I’ve been a Christian since before my age was in double digits.
Throughout this time, I’ve outgrown different seasons of life, including homework from school, the ache of my first heartbreak, college years and even the awkward beginnings of adulthood. I’ve walked through friendship breakups and family devastation and made it to the other side.
But there’s one struggle I have yet to outgrow, break up with or discontinue. And that’s the difficult relationship I have with my body.
Struggling with body image as a follower of Jesus feels especially vulnerable. I can recount truth-soaked passages of Scripture like Psalm 139, telling me that “I am fearfully and wonderfully made …” (Psalm 139:14, NIV), but there’s still something inside of me that feels incredibly broken.
I’ve ruminated on what I wished was different …
I’ve restricted myself during meal times …
I’ve exercised as punishment instead of for enjoyment …
And I’ve even believed at times that women who look how I wish I did are more loved, more successful and must have more self-control than I do.
Spiritually, I know God has redeemed my soul through the greatest miracle of all: Jesus. But physically, I ache with wondering why I still fight through such a broken relationship with my own body.
Recently, though, I’ve realized I’ve been thinking about this wrong. I’ve been trying to treat a spiritual problem with physical solutions.
I don’t know how this specifically resonates with you, but lately, I’ve found myself in circles of Christian friends where I discovered I was not the only one struggling with this. Walking with Jesus does not make us exempt from struggles because we are Christians. But it does give us a place to anchor ourselves when we feel disoriented or discouraged by what we’re feeling and facing.
I completely missed that although this body image struggle may be housed in my physical body, God deeply cares about it spiritually. And in the complexity of my own journey, I found my way to the words of Psalm 145:16: “You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.”
God is the only one who can interrupt chaotic cycles we find ourselves in and interject them with what we really long for: lasting satisfaction.
So I started bringing God into this ongoing journey of mending my relationship with my body. And through that, there are a few beautiful truths I want to share with you:
- It’s OK if we don’t feel like our body is good. God is simply inviting us to come into agreement with the truth that He has already declared our bodies good. (Genesis 1:31a)
- No matter how many times I wish my body was different, God doesn’t. In fact … He delights in me. (Psalm 18:19)
- His faithfulness is not absent in how He made my body. His faithfulness is revealed in how He made my body. (Psalm 145:13b)
This part of my story is very much in progress. I’ve yet to outgrow it; however, I am learning in it. And if that’s where you are today, I want to share a few practices that have really helped me:
- Laying down the temptation to compare myself to others and instead focusing on healthy, sustainable habits for myself. (Galatians 1:10)
- Naming disordered thinking what it is so that I can reorder my thoughts towards things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable. (Philippians 4:8)
- Asking God to purify my heart rather than focusing my attention on perfecting my fleeting, earthly body. (2 Corinthians 7:1; Psalm 51:10)
Friend, whatever struggle you find yourself feeling like you have yet to outgrow today, invite Jesus right in the middle of it. We don’t have to wait for things to be tidy for Him. We may stumble our way through our struggles, but even stumbling is still movement.
Father God, I thank You today for my body. Thank You for all that it allows me to carry, accomplish and do for Your Kingdom. I pray for fresh eyes that see my body the way You do … good. When my mind wanders to thoughts that are not of You, please help me to recall the truths I uncovered in Your Word today. Thank You for being faithful and close to me during my struggles. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.