A few days ago I posted a question on the She Rises page story and on my personal Instagram and Facebook stories. The question was “What’s your biggest challenge as a Christian woman?” I got a lot of interesting answers. Some of them were expected and some of them were not. I decided I would take the next few weeks and address some of them.
I also decided to start with the ones that seemed to be the most common challenge…body image and loving ourselves.
It’s funny how as Christian women we can be kind and loving to every one, except ourselves.
It’s definitely something I’ve struggled with at some point in my life. I think it’s safe to say that every woman has as well. I will say that the older I get the less it’s been an issue for me. Have I overcome it entirely? Well, no, because there’s always a bad day here and there. But honestly, I don’t think it’s something I would say I have a struggle with anymore. And maybe that’s because somewhere over the last two years I made it a point to be nice to myself and to love myself. I also cleaned out my spiritual closet.
Body image is a different machine altogether. And it’s roots grow deep. I remember being on the school bus when I was about thirteen and a boy told me I was ugly. I didn’t ask him, or even like him. But bless his heart, he decided to give me his unsolicited opinion. He then went on to name all the other “ugly” girls in my grade. I remember being shocked by the names he was listing. I thought they were all pretty. I remember thinking that he was rude. And I remember that I didn’t think he was cute at all. But I didn’t tell him. I was raised better than that. Lol.
But I remember that when I got home, I wondered if he might be right. Then later on that afternoon I decided that what he said didn’t matter because he didn’t seem to be a very nice person. And judging by the list he made, I wasn’t in bad company. It seemed like his idea of ugly and mine, were very different. Also, I didn’t like him at all. He was just… Ugh.
Eight grade logic. It’s actually not bad. I’ve always been smart.
I’m sure I didn’t think I was all that pretty. I was a middle schooler. And those were not my best years. But I wouldn’t trade them for anything. So, maybe I didn’t think I was all that pretty. But I certainly did not think I was ugly. And neither were any of the other girls he named.
If I would have liked him. It probably would have hurt my feelings. I would have cared if he didn’t think I was pretty.
I believe that was the moment I truly learned that beauty was certainly in the eye of the beholder. And I also believe that it’s hard to find beauty in anything when there’s bitterness or ugliness in the heart.
I said all of that to say this… “You can’t love something and not think it’s beautiful in some way.
When we truly love ourselves, our body image drastically improves.
Just for a second, think about all the things and people that you love. And pick one of them, now name a few reasons why you love this person, this thing.
Now, do you possess any of those same qualities? I bet you do and I bet that if it’s a person you care way more about the inside than the outside.
And that’s the best way I know how to help you with body image. It won’t matter how much weight you lose. Trust me I’ve been overweight and too skinny and “just right” and hated myself all the same in each body. It all starts on the inside. Once you get that right, it overflows onto the outside.
Once you start being nice to yourself, in speech and action, you’ll see what I mean. Open your Bible and read what God says about you. And then start saying it to yourself.
Psalm 139:14 says that God created your inmost being, knitted you together in your mother’s womb, you are fearfully and wonderfully made, that God’s works are wonderful. And our souls know this.
But we forget that we are a beautiful masterpiece created by a loving God.
The Bible says more things like this:
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
God loves you. He looks at you and delights in you. He knows that you are not perfect. He knows you are struggling. Ask him to help you.
Now, I know from your replies that some of you have been mistreated. Some of you have been hurt in a way that I cannot fathom. The other day I was ministering to a young lady and she was telling me some of the horrible things that her ex husband used to say to her. And later when I was alone, I cried because I was so hurt for her. I was so hurt that someone said those things to her. And none of those things were true. And the person saying them, needed a lot of help and was obviously very broken. I’m not making excuses for them. I’m just stating facts.
So, whether you are struggling because of something someone said to you or you are struggling because of the things you say to yourself. Remember this, you are never going to feel good about yourself as long as believe anything about yourself that does not line up with what God says about you.
You are never going to feel good about yourself as long as don’t speak life and kindness to yourself.
I’m thirty nine years old and I wish I would have learned this lesson twenty years ago.
And if you give this a try and you still can’t seem to have a healthy body image or love yourself then please reach out and talk to someone you trust.
And “flaws”… if you even want to call them that, they make you unique and they set you apart from the unrealistic, cookie cutter beauty standards of this terribly lost world.
God’s idea of beautiful, well, its you. And if it’s a heart issue and you need a new outlook or a better attitude… well He can certainly help with that, too.
Regardless of why your body image isn’t great and you are struggling to love yourself the way you should, remember that you are your own worst critic. Stop being so hard on yourself. For the most part, I bet you are doing the best you know can. . And if aren’t, then do better. Just a little bit at a time.
Pick one thing you like about yourself. And focus on that for a few days. Pick one thing that you want to let go of, some hurt, some issue with someone or yourself. Now, prayerfully ask God to help you heal and forgive. Ask Him everyday until you feel yourself healing.
Keep on doing this for the next month, and then for as long as it takes to clear it all out. It won’t happen overnight, but eventually you’ll start to see yourself differently.
I’m praying for you. God loves you. He wants you to love yourself. And so do I.