I came up with so many reasons not to share God-centered content. And here I am anyways. For the last 2 years I’ve had this urging to start posting about what the bible has told me about our relationship with food and body image, so this post is the first of more to (sporadically) come.
p.s. The blog will be down Sunday, May 6th, for a few hours as the blog gets a new look!! I’ve been craving an update and am excited for you to see it!
Bible reading: 2 Corinthians 5: 1-21
I was talking to my little sister the other day and she mentioned that when she sees God the first thing she might say to him is, “that was so hard.” That referring to life on Earth. And maybe he’ll say something like, “but it’s okay, because you’re here now.”
I know for some of you, whether thin or fat, it feels so awful to be in your body. You’re reminded of how much you hate your body every time you put on an outfit that no longer fits right, you are shamed for your body size by your healthcare providers, you catch a glimpse of your reflection as your walk by a mirror, or you eat something the world we live in considers “bad.”
I know how it feels to hate being in your body. And I have so much compassion for you if that is what you are struggling with. But God doesn’t call us to achieve the worldly “ideal body.” In fact, the pursuit and overvaluation of achieving a particular body size will keep us away from God. This pursuit of a smaller or different body can be something that breaks the wholeness of your connection with Him. I have no doubt that the reason you’ve been placed on this Earth is not to be relentlessly pursuing a smaller body size or a less processed diet.
In my life, God patiently wait on me to stop having idols besides him. For years my bodily habits relating to food and exercise continued to conflict with my professed values. He waited on me still. Knowing all along that I’m made for more than just having a body with as little fat on it as possible. I remember talking to Him night after night asking Him to “help me not care about running and thinness.”
I believe running is a sin FOR ME. It is something that breaks the wholeness of my connection with God. I know that I don’t bear the wrath for my sin. Christ has borne the wrath so I don’t have to. And even knowing running is bad for me, sometimes I still miss running. I miss the high it gives you, but I don’t miss how it was all-consuming and obsessive. I feel like running does weird things to my brain and having a relationship with running isn’t a relationship that is important for me to have. And on top of that, my joints can’t handle the impact of running. I believe the pain I have in my knees and back is a gentle reminder that keeps me constantly setting my eyes back on Jesus. I’ve done months of physical therapy and gone to orthopedic docs and have decided that this pain is just gonna be with me until I learn what I’m supposed to learn…which is, to keep God first.
I want to be a person who takes care of her earthly tent (aka my body) well to honor God and bring him glory. But, I think a lot of times in our culture, making sure we manage our body size comes at the expense of time spent with God. Focusing my efforts on trying to be thinner than my body is meant to be in the current season of life distracts me away from God with the time that is required to be spent on rigid exercise routines, food rules and thoughts of feeling disgusting in my body. Because of this, I know that having fat on my body allows me to honor and praise God more fully. If excessive exercise and rigid food rules is required to maintain my body size, then that is not the body size I am meant to have.
To be able to figure out what God has planned for me on earth I have to find some level of comfort in my my body, my earthly tent. I know for some of you your body doesn’t feel like home and I know how awful that can feel. C.S. Lewis said, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
When you are feeling like you can’t stand being in your body as it changes sizes, you may have to constantly set your eyes back on Jesus and the reminder that, “we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
While God is a God of grace and knows how miserable it can feel to be in your body…I don’t believe he calls us to spend our time complaining and feeling unhappy about our body size. While God doesn’t view me any differently if I’m in a smaller body or a larger body, I’ve found I’m able to have a deeper relationship with him when I have made peace with my natural body size because my mind isn’t being preoccupied with pursuing staying a certain size.
Take care of your body – listen to hunger and fullness cues, don’t restrict yourself from food so your mind ends up occupied by thoughts of it, and find ways to joyfully move. But keep the importance of your body size in it’s proper place. I want to keep a heavenly perspective on the meaning, value and importance of my body. I think it is good to remember that our bodies are a temporary tent and as long as we are on Earth there will always be something to groan and ache about as we are instilled with a deep desire and longing to be sheltered in our permanent home.
When it comes to body size, there may be some surrendering that needs to happen. Surrendering to the idea that there is some uncertainty to what size your body will end up when you listen to your internal cues of hunger and fullness. For specific tips on how to improve your body image, read these.