I want to be skinny.
There. I said it. I mean who sits around thinking they WANT to be overweight. I know I sure don’t.
For years I obsessed about this. I beat myself up time and time again. And if I’m honest with myself (and you), I still take Satan’s bait on this one from time to time. Sometimes when I’m overweight and, hear this, sometimes when I’m actually quite thin and fit I fall prey to the enemy’s body image lies.
For those who struggle with body image issues, our thought life related to our weight can be all consuming. For some, that looks like a number on the scale. It may look like a certain pair of jeans that MUST fit. For others, it’s eating just the right number of calories in a day. Or maybe it’s that thigh dimple that shows each time you sit down. The obsessions can take all shapes and sizes—just like our bodies.
Early in time before the fall of man, Adam and Eve walked in a garden of perfection, get this, totally naked. Can you imagine? I try and sit sometimes to ponder what it must be like to have total freedom in your body, to just walk around with no thought as to what you look like and what others must be thinking about what you look like. I really can’t even go there. And then, food enters the picture to ruin it all. Ok, not exactly, but it helps me feel better to blame it on the food.
In Genesis 3, we can watch body image issues unfold before our very eyes. Well, kind of. Does anyone else find it interesting that the first temptation we hear about is FOOD? I mean, wow, food has been tempting women since the beginning of time! I don’t know if that makes me feel better, or worse.
“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” (Genesis 3: 6-7)
I mean the food was tempting and irresistible so she ate it. Hmmmmm, sounds familiar.
But pay attention to the second part of that passage. Where once there was freedom, now there was a need to hide and cover their bodies. Adam and Eve covered themselves because suddenly they weren’t comfortable with their nakedness. Oh boy, do I know that feeling. ASHAMED. OF MY BODY. Oh, yes!
But as I say to myself my body is not enough, what does the Lord say to me about my body? Was God telling Eve her body was no longer good enough? Not. At. All. You see, here’s the amazing thing about God--He created your body and wants you to honor him with your body. I haven’t found the passage where He tells us we need to wear a size 8. I’ve neglected to read the verse that says thigh dimples are gross. In fact, I can’t even find a commandment that says I shall not weigh more than I did in high school. Oh. Right.
In 1 Samuel, we can see clearly what God cares about far more than the number on your scale this morning. In this passage, Samuel is at the home of Jesse looking for Israel’s next king. All of Jesse’s sons line up for visual inspection with the assumption that the one with physical perfection will be chosen as God’s anointed king. As Samuel looks over the men, he receives a word from the Lord.
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him (as king). The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’ ” 1 Samuel 16:7, parenthesis mine.
Does it make you feel better to know that even way back in the Old Testament people were focusing on the wrong parts of the body? It seems inescapable. People are going to judge your body, but the Lord will judge your heart. God does not care about the size of your jeans, he cares about the size of your HEART. Take a deep breath, dear friend, and rest in that. Having a heart for the Lord and wanting to be more like Jesus matters to God. We won’t ever find perfection this side of Heaven, but if we can focus on changing our hearts more than changing our weight, we can see the progress we’ve longed for.
Does this mean we can eat whatever we want and finally be free of the trap of food? Not one bit. What we put into our mouths and how we nourish our bodies is ultimately a reflection of our heart. God made our bodies and we are to steward them well. It is our attitude about how and why that is the key difference.
If you didn’t eat the donuts in the break room at work this morning or you sat in misery while your kids gobbled up your favorite breakfast merely so you can impress your friends at the pool this summer, you probably need a shift in focus. Just as those in 1 Samuel did.
Donuts are not healthy or nutritious for your body. God created your beautiful body, and you need to feed it well. But remember, your mind is part of your body. Consider this. Eating donuts without much thought, having high blood sugar, feeling draggy and having brain fog are not the best for your body. You don’t need a nutritionist to know that. But the once a year birthday party for that special someone at the donut shop is a totally different story. Pray about it. If your best means you enjoy that donut with that person in your life, by all means, DIG IN.
Everyone is different. For some of us, even one donut is not our best. For others, this is not a problem. Getting in touch with your heart (and your body) is the most important part in freedom from body image struggles. The Lord longs for you to find freedom from bondage.
I want to encourage you to take a minute before you eat and before you step on the scale. Talk to God. Pay attention to your body. Do you believe how you are nourishing your body is God’s best for you in that moment? That’s what’s important. Your perfect size is the one you have when you honor God by treating his creation with love and respect, nourishing it well.
We can talk specifics on what good nourishment looks like in future posts, but in general, you know where you are slipping. Start with the obvious things. If your attitude is God honoring, we can work through the details with His grace and mercy.
So yea, I want to be skinny. But I want to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, even more than I want to be skinny. When I stand before Him at the seat of judgment, I want to hear that I did well and was a good and faithful servant. It won’t matter if I get there as a size 4 or a size 14; what will matter is if I have honored my body because I am in love with my savior. Did you hear that important difference? God won’t love me if I honor Him with my body, but rather I want to honor God with my body because I love him.
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