There’s a new thing happening in my heart regarding body image, and I think it could help you find freedom, too.
I wrote a post about body image back in college (can I say ‘back in college’ when I am still perpetually in school? I digress) describing my attitude toward my body over the previous several years. I talked about being so captivated by Jesus that I wasn’t thinking about my body much anymore. I celebrated the fact that I was getting married in a few months and wasn’t dieting. It felt like deliverance at the time, and it was a step in the right direction.
I don’t think I had found true freedom, though.
I basically just stopped thinking about my body. And that was absolutely by the grace of God because I had previously been unable to put my weight out of my mind. Still, was I truly free if all I was doing was ignoring the problem?
Last summer, I stopped ignoring my body. And once I started thinking about it again, it became obvious that I wasn’t truly free.
I know this to be true because I started tracking all of my food, counting my exercise minutes religiously, and focusing on getting my weight down. I ended the summer at the lowest weight I had been since my sophomore year of college.
Then, we found out that we were pregnant.
I had the nauseated-when-hungry type of morning sickness, so I started snacking all day. As long as my stomach was full, I felt generally fine. I watched the number on the scale start to climb at each doctor’s appointment as a result.
Going into my second trimester, I decided to stop looking at my weight at my appointments. I couldn’t handle it. So for the next 6 months, I turned around every time I got on the scale. The nurse noticed I did this and never said the number aloud.
I had no idea how much I weighed for months. Once again, I thought ignoring was the best strategy.
This went on until my 38 week appointment.
Someone else was filling in for my regular nurse that day, and she revealed the number even though I had turned away from the screen.
It’s vulnerable for me to admit, but it legitimately ruined my day. The number was much higher than I expected, and I honestly was in a sour mood for hours. I’m sure it didn’t help that I was quite literally days from giving birth, tired, and hormonal.
The point is, I didn’t feel free at all. I felt like a failure.
I knew that Jess Connolly was coming out with Breaking Free from Body Shame in June. The timing was perfect because I would be smack dab in the middle of my 4th trimester. I needed some help. I was trying to look to Jesus and ignore my body, and it just wasn’t working.
What I’ve discovered through reading is that I needed some new thoughts about my body.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:2 (ESV)
to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:22-24 (ESV)
I needed renewal for my mind, not just an area blocked off with caution tape.
I needed truth to put on like armor as I battled against the lies and defeat.
This book offers truth in abundance. And the singular idea that is threaded throughout its pages is this: Your body is good.
Here’s a quote that sums up how we know this to be true:
“Your body image is the perception you have of your body. What’s wild is that when God looks at your body, He sees Himself. When He looks at you, He sees His own image and glory. And you need to know that God loves His image. God cannot see you without seeing Himself, and when He sees Himself, He sees glory.”
God is pure goodness. Our bodies are made in His image. Our bodies are good creations modeled to reflect a good God.
Friends, this changes everything.
God doesn’t ignore our bodies; He crafted them carefully. He desires that we love Him first and foremost, of course, but that doesn’t mean that we put aside all thoughts about our bodies to do so. They are gift through which we experience worship, relationships, work, rest, praise, celebration–LIFE.
When we see our bodies as good, we treat them differently.
We take care of them with food, water, rest and exercise. And we don’t use these things as tools to become smaller or leaner or to fit a cultural ideal. Rather, we use them to honor what God has given us through our bodies.
We talk about them differently.
In the same way we would never insult God’s good creation, it starts to feel wrong to speak about our bodies harshly. This truth gives us power to speak life over our bodies as well as the bodies of others.
We think about them differently.
When I look at my stretch marks postpartum, I don’t get uncomfortable and quickly push all negative thoughts aside. Instead, I think about the goodness of God in allowing me to bring our daughter into the world.
When I don’t like how my arms or legs look in a certain outfit, I have a short but effective rebuttal: My arms are good. My legs are good. Period.
It sounds simple, and that’s because it is. It’s even easier than just ignoring all of the negative thoughts. Aligning my mind with what God thinks is lifegiving, and it’s becoming easier the more I do it.
I invite you to pick up this read because, seriously, it gives so much practical wisdom and biblical truth.
In the meantime, practice believing your body is good. Make a commitment to stop ignoring your body and instead ask God what He thinks.
I’m right there with you. So far, He has not disappointed as I search for wisdom and freedom in this area.
He is good. And He made your body good.