Vulnerability is not always a strength of mine. Thank you, Jesus, for the ability to write because there would be no way to unpack and sort through my thoughts. So bear with me. The Lord has put it on my heart to write on body image for over a year. Y’all, that is a long time to wait.
I’d edit a document over and over until I’d walk away feeling too incompetent to post something I hadn’t totally conquered. But thank God He has already conquered all of this; fear has no place within me. There is power in humbling yourself to be painfully real, so Jesus receives the glory. I am not an expert at shutting down confidence issues, but there is someone who needs to hear that they are not alone in the struggle. So here it goes…
For years, I have been insecure about my body. Even though I am perfectly healthy and strong, it’s never been enough to actually satisfy my longing to be “thinner.” Half of my day consists of me picking apart what I don’t like, specifically my legs. Shoutout to gymnastics for building quads at the ripe age of 5 years old. The other half of the time, I would be thinking about what I should and shouldn’t eat or shame myself for eating something unhealthy.
Just sliiiiiiightly obsessive. No bueno. Expectations for a “perfect” bathing suit season body is a real struggle, y’all. And social media doesn’t help when it instantly updates visual temptations to compare yourself to other beautiful humans 24/7 *Cough Savannah LaBrant cough*.
Yesterday, I left the gym a hot mess with tears building up uncontrollably. All-consuming, it totally took my eyes off the countless blessings Jesus has already provided for me. Feeling totally broken and helpless, I reached out to some of my best friends for prayer and called my mom. Praises for the people who you can always rely on to encourage you and immediately push you back toward Jesus.
If you haven’t heard of the website She Reads Truth, I highly recommend it for a source of daily devotionals. It is a great resource to guide you in the Word.
I skipped my quiet time yesterday (smh at myself) but ironically read this morning what I should have read yesterday… you can imagine the conviction across my face as I sipped my first cup of coffee. Funny how the Lord works that way.
The passage was Exodus 13-15, where Moses obeys the Lord’s instruction and leads the Israelites out of Egypt. They’re renown for being somewhat complainers in the Bible after being enslaved around 400 years under a stubborn Pharaoh’s rule… in the blazing hot desert… building gigantic pyramids… all. day. long. So you really can’t blame the Israelites for being whiney grumps. I wouldn’t want to be in a desert that long either.
Not sure about you, but I have felt lost and broken down in a forsaken place before, too. Lord, why hasn’t ____ changed yet? I’ve prayed about it so many times; I just don’t understand why it has to be this way. Fill in the blank, and I’m sure there is something we have all questioned before.
I have recently noticed that my bad days of body shame do not just pop out of nowhere. They start with something silly and small, like being concerned if my nail polish is chipping. Then I’m worried if my outfit actually matches. The next thing you know I’m depriving myself of food and spend 2 hours at the gym until I’m so frustrated I can’t help but give up. And that is exactly what Satan wants to see because he is the definition of evil!!
It is so easy to look at how big the problems we face are and forget how much bigger our King is.
God split the Red Sea down the middle so that the Israelites could walk on dry ground. Dry ground is significant because God paid attention to detail: He didn’t let them sink in what should have been the mud under the sea. Picture thousands of families trying to move all their stuff plus kids across a massive mud pit. Disaster waiting to happen.
But God gave them solid land to walk across. When we go through bad days, weeks, or years, He provides the Solid Rock for us to stand on: Jesus.
He delivered them from hundreds of years of suppression.
Their prayers were answered. They were set free.
But yet again, it is so tempting to turn away from the miracles already done right before us. Just one, two, three days into the freedom they had prayed about for generations, they lost sight of His faithfulness when there was no good tasting water available. They even named the place “Marah,” which is Hebrew for “bitter.” Can you say extra!?!?
Just like the Israelites, I was bitter, too. I couldn’t understand why God hadn’t healed me from what was distracting me from Him to begin with. I knew it was a sin to have anything other than Jesus consume my mind, but I was knee-deep in only what my human eyes could see.
I had shut my eyes to His loving arms, closed my ears to His sweet promises, clasped my hands from His healing touch.
The Holy Spirit showed me this morning that I had turned away in shame. Yet He kept calling out to me.
It wasn’t that I hadn’t prayed hard enough; I had chosen to listen to the wrong voice.
What I see in the mirror is not the same reflection that Jesus sees when He looks at me. Because He is my Savior, He sees what is in my heart: the good, bad, and ugly.
Jesus didn’t die on the cross so I could enjoy a couple good hair days. He doesn’t scroll through Instagram and refuse to double tap when He sees the unfiltered version of me.
I am not a pro at performing the perfect equation where a + b = no more body shame.
However, I am confident that the Lord is healing me right where I am today. It doesn’t mean I’m not going to have a bad day ever again. I still love green smoothies (which look like Shrek’s skin tone) and dark chocolate brownies.
So here is my plan:
I’m letting go and letting God control this vulnerable area in my life. Listening to what the enemy says lets him win. And he will never ever win when the Lord is King of my heart.
This may not be for everyone, but I am testing this idea of taking a break from the gym. There is a mirror in almost every corner, providing easy temptations to compare my body against the next one. Instead, I’m going to pursue more walks with friends to catch up on life, runs with my Jesus jams, and yoga (aka child’s pose). HMU if you want to get your walking shoes on with me!
Unfollow Instagram accounts creating doubt of self-worth. It is sooo easy to see the “highlight reel” of people’s lives on social media. Don’t get me wrong, I love a high-quality picture capturing the moment. But when it becomes an unhealthy source of comparison, it does no good continuing to be sucked in. There is no such thing as a perfect body type in the Bible, so society’s version of what I should look like is invalid. Period.
The second I realize that I have begun a negative thought, it’ll be replaced with 3 positive ones. “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength” (Prov. 17:22, NLT).
Whether you are struggling with fear, shame, doubt, or sorrow, you are not alone and Jesus will not let this go to waste. “For I am the Lord who heals you” (Ex. 15:26, NLT). I may not have all the answers when it comes to what His plans are, but His plans are far greater than what I have in mind.
So here is my prayer for us all: Papa, fill our hearts with Your comforting presence so that Truth overpowers any other voice. Instead of feeling broken from the stress of having it all together, we will praise You for satisfaction and healing. We will call out the lies and demand that demon to crawl back into the pits of Hell where it belongs. Because it has no hold on our salvation. It does not claim us in victory. It does not get to destroy joy that comes from the Lord. With hands raised high praising the One who fearfully and wonderfully created us, this battle has already been won.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on sydneycarolinec.wixsite.com
Featured Image by Dave Mullen