When I got engaged, naturally I began wedding dress shopping. For most women, wedding dress shopping is an exciting experience; but for me, it was underwhelming. All I could focus on was how each dress made me feel fat and how the parts of my body I hated most were exposed.
The experience drudged up a familiar struggle I’ve had as an adult: a distorted view of myself, insecurity, and lack of confidence. Years ago, I began struggling with bad cystic acne on my chest and back, and my image was constantly on my mind. I believed everyone was aware of all the negative areas of my body that I was not satisfied with. I believed that if I could have clear skin, then I would be happy with myself. Though eventually my acne disappeared, my negative self-talk did not — and it just moved on to the next thing I disliked about my body.
I joined a gym, ran, ate healthy, tracked my progress with a scale and measuring tape. But I never felt like I was doing enough to make the dislike for my body to go away. At that point I knew I was chasing something that I would never be able to achieve. Change needed to happen within my heart, not my body. Not only did I want to feel beautiful on the outside on my wedding day, but also on the inside. I wanted to be healed. And so, I called upon Jesus.
Lord and creator of my body
Because he is the Lord, he is the creator who sets the standard of perfection. He created this body for me. He crafted it himself in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:19), made every decision on how my body was going to look, and he saw it as good. Who am I to put the standards on what my body is supposed to look like and be shaped like? Why should the world have any say in that area, too? God created my body, therefore, he is the only one to look to! Not my own perceptions and definitely not the world’s perceptions of perfect.
God revealed Ephesians 2:10 to me, which says, “For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” I am created and planned for Christ, I am his workmanship, and I can walk in goodness.
Also, because he is the Lord, he is the one in control, not me. Amen! So, I can trust that all things work together for my good, for I am called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).
A heart ruled by fear and control
The fear of losing control rules my heart. This fear led me to feel depressed, anxious, self-doubting, insufficient, and just… fat. I ignored the beautiful and freeing truth that I am God’s temple and his Spirit dwells in me (1 Corinthians 3:16).
My sinful thoughts about my body also consumed and distracted me from the voice of God. Instead of reading my Bible and praying, I wasted my time researching eating plans, exercises, fitness clubs — all to feel in control of fixing my imperfections.
I’ve recognized that as I’ve gotten older, my body is changing and growing in areas I don’t want it to. This causes me to fear for the future — that after children or more decades of aging, I will be more disgusted with the way my body looks. I spend too much energy trying to stay ahead of (in control) of my body. Though God gave me a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7), I sinned in my fear.
The greatest consequence I faced with this sin was lost time with God. My quiet time was spent thinking about food and my weight goals rather than time in the Word or prayer with my Father. Clearly, striving for a cultural ideal is not a godly pursuit, but pursuit of my own glory (Proverbs 16:18).
Healing through the Savior
God provides healing of my mind and heart through his Son, my Savior Jesus. I can call on him when I am battling the temptation to talk in ungodly ways to myself. He invites me: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, he speaks truth into my life, provides people to share the Word with me, and supplies godly wisdom and prayer. “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:13).
Through Christ, I am promised a new body in heaven (Philippians 3:20-21). Any illness or disfigurement will be redeemed by him, and we will be in heaven with the bodies God meant for us to have. This gives me so much hope and peace.
Freedom by faith
I am called by faith to confess my sins to God. His Word says: “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness” (1 John 1:19).
By faith, I can pray continually and stay immersed in the truth of God’s Word. I know my energy is best spent praying, gaining wisdom, serving others and learning to be more like Christ.
In seeing how my healing journey must come from the inside out, I confessed to my LIFE Group what was in my heart and asked for their prayers. I felt relieved to have my burdens off my chest.
In his mercy, I have come to experience peace in knowing that eating and exercise are used to make my body effective and efficient in service to the Lord (1 Corinthians 10:31). There is freedom in knowing that God does not hold us to a physical standard, but only to spiritual standard. When I am focused on him, everything else unfruitful for my life fades away.