Body image. Unattainable weight standards. Pressure. Grace. More grace.
I don’t believe this post will be groundbreaking by any means. God recently planted truth in me about an issue that so many women have faced and overcome by his grace. It’s brand new to me, though, so here comes some writing worship to commemorate his goodness.
junior year of high school
I have almost no self control when it comes to food. My sister and I speak fondly about this time in my life as “when Brielle kept a jar of Nutella in the center console of her car.”
senior year of high school
I lose 20 pounds. I work out 5 times a week. I eat salad and apples. I take several hundred mirror pics of myself to track what my stomach and face look like. I’m delighted that my show choir dress has to be taken in. I obsess over how my arms look in my prom photos.
freshman year of college
I gain some weight back while studying and snacking late at night. I panic. I start working out whenever I can. More than once, I choose trekking over to the gym over spending time with the girls on my floor. I swear off ALL white flour and sugar for a month.
sophomore year of college
I have a hard transition to ISU. My homework and social life seem out of my control, so I work hard to control my weight. I run and use the elliptical several times a week. I cry when I don’t wake up in time to work out. I give up dairy for a few months. I’m the smallest I’ve ever been by May.
PS: I still wanted to be smaller.
There is no perfect weight that ends the discontent and the striving.
junior year of college
I return from Vietnam heavier than when I left. This shakes me harder than it should. I am genuinely flabbergasted when Dellan tells me I look so great and even prettier than before I left. My semester is busy. There’s no time to go to the gym as much as I did sophomore year–no time to lose the weight added over the summer.
…And the weight remains today. And friends, oh. my. goodness. I have been given so much grace.
I don’t even want to lose it anymore. People, I am getting MARRIED. There are articles and wedding blogs everywhere offering me workout plans and fad diets so that I can look flawless on my wedding day and I don’t even CARE. This is absolute madness! Year-ago me would never believe that I sit here content with marrying the perfect guy without being my ideal weight. This is the power of Jesus.
And I’ve heard it before and I think I’ll learn it my whole life, but my mindset was not shifted by my own effort. I did not pin up quotes about loving my body. I did not compliment myself in the mirror. I didn’t even pray about this very much. (I didn’t even think I had a problem, ha!)
God made Jesus more beautiful to me. I now believe his glory to be the only cure.
I am so captivated by his perfect life, his love, the amazing work he accomplished for this world. His peace. His gentle and lowly heart. Jesus washed ME. He clothed ME with beautiful outer garments of righteousness so that God and I’s relationship could be restored. I am new. I am precious.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
Isaiah 61:10 (ESV)
… Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Ephesians 5: 25b-27 (ESV)
So… I don’t really need to be beautiful.
Sure, I won’t throw out all my makeup or curate a sweatpants-only wardrobe. I also won’t stop exercising; the health benefits and stress relief it provides are crucial to my well-being. But the “perfect” appearance I chased for so long does not consume me anymore, and these activities can be enjoyed in freedom and security.
My soul is overjoyed to simply gaze upon the beauty of Christ. He is beautiful enough for all of us–for me. All glory to him.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
look full in His wonderful face,
and the things of earth will grow strangely dim
in the light of His glory and grace.
Hymn: “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”