You know, I have been fighting the urge to post this one. Because so many people preach this stuff — striving to go against what culture screams. Sometimes they have lived it and truly mean it, other times they’re trying to make up their own minds and find some freedom. I don’t want to be the person who loses sleep over what someone else thinks over a sharing of my heart, here or elsewhere. There’s wisdom and tact, yes, but then there’s also being honest and open. From this place this post comes.
Getting married… Intimacy on a new level, lots of people staring at you. There’s a lot of room for the Enemy to make tiny insecurities as large as mountains, but I don’t want that. For me or for you who reads this. So here we go…
“I’ll love my body when I lose weight. When my skin clears up. When my thighs are slimmer. When my stomach is flat.”
Everyone has been there. Everyone has had a conditional love for their bodies at one time or another. Human nature is often ‘we want what we can’t have,’ and we refuse to love our bodies until they’re in whatever perfect state our twisted minds want them to be in.
It’s a messy situation, and to be honest, a little wearying. Is it wrong to want to look different? What does it mean to really love my body anyway? Is it possible to love a body that isn’t the way I want it to be? These are the questions I’ve been pondering in my spare thought life lately.
First things first, what about wanting to look different? We live in the age of comparison, so tendencies to get discouraged are high and frequent. There’s this notion that if you aren’t like this, you’re lacking. It’s easy to glance at the “grass on the other side.” We each have a certain size and shape that we’ve been entrusted, designed by the Creator of life, and we can’t change that. However, I believe the desire for beauty is something everyone is born with, and there is no shame in desiring to be or making ourselves more attractive physically. The key to keeping these changes within healthy boundaries is to stay true to what makes us unique (i.e. wearing clothes that flatter our figure, rather than going on an extreme diet to lose weight). Remember: there’s nothing special about being a copy of someone else. Like I wrote the other day, here, God created me with a genetic makeup unlike anybody else. Family genetics combined with what I value in life combined with a large batch of personality and desires and how I choose to be. This large umbrella of genetic makeup obviously includes my physical body. As it does you.
Mind you, as a woman and former collegiate athlete, I sometimes feel like I preach this to myself 23 hours of the day. But with every fiber in my being I want to fight for awareness of what I treasure most in life: is it knowing Christ, or idolatry of self-image; is it loving people well or obsession with food? Whether I’m running everyday or not, Jesus wants to be my focus, my number 1 affection, my most consuming desire. And life is far better and fuller that way.
So then, what does loving our bodies even look like? The best way I’ve heard it said is,
“Treat your body like you would treat a friend.” This could include some or all of the following:
-Feed your body nourishing food and be true to your real hunger.
-Buy and wear clothes that fit your body as it is today, not as it was five years ago or will be in a few months.
-Use positive language when talking about your body–regardless of if it’s in your head or out loud.
And then this, how can we love our body if we actually hate it? It’s a paradox, indeed, but if we ever want to have healthy body image, we have to learn to accept the way our bodies look as they are RIGHT NOW. If we can’t love our body today, we won’t love our body when it’s “perfect,” because that idea of perfect will always change.
Look in the mirror today and delight in what you see, even if it’s not the reflection that you wish you had. Look at your eyes, your smile, your skin, your hair, your legs. Thank your body for what it does for you and spend this week delighting in the joy of your beauty. This body allows you to move and breathe and experience all the awesomeness of life — Baskin Robbins ice cream, a canoe ride down the lake, shopping for a new outfit, playing tag with your kids.
You are a woman, and you are beautiful. Done and done. Measure yourself in contentment, joy, and laughter, because those are the things that last longer. It’s difficult to transition your thinking, to change your mindset, but it’s so wonderfully possible. I know this to be true because I walked/am still walking it also. I can strive to love the person God delights in. To focus on the love and growth of the heart that people encounter every day.
I want to be fit, and that’s completely great and wonderful! I want to go on long runs to relieve stress, and take fun spin classes at the Y, and go on hikes with my soon-to-be husband. But, I also don’t really want to compromise the chance for my love and joy and passion and kindness and relationships to deepen and expand .. at the expense of a lesser number on the scale. For me, it’s more of a mental game than anything else, but the mind is just as powerful than anything physical. I fight for the beauty of my thought life, the rest for my soul, the confidence of my heart, when the Enemy tries to get in and distract me.
Find your freedom, dare to be all of who you were created to be, widen your scope of vision, who is your true audience? Enjoy life, treasuring wonders that are intangible. Be happy with what you have while working for what you want. It’s different for everyone.. and that’s how it should be. I’m doing the same, so let’s chat.