(By Heather Marshall)
“Lord, help me!”
I will never forget my heartfelt cry that morning as I was driving to work. That prayer marked a turning point in my struggle with negative self-image and with being under bondage to trying to change my body through diet and exercise.
For most of my adult life, I wrestled with the idea that my body was not good enough. I spent a significant amount of money and time toiling under the latest diet and exercise plans, but I was never happy with my progress. It never satisfied, and I would end up feeling like more of a failure until the next plan came along and I would start all over again. I was living as a slave to this idea of my ideal body image and I couldn’t break free.
That’s where my desperate prayer came into play that morning. I was so tired of feeling inadequate and I wanted freedom. Little did I know that my freedom was not going to come through the next diet and exercise program, but rather through the Lord giving me freedom that I couldn’t gain under my own power.
The children of Israel were also living under bondage and slavery in the land of Egypt and they could not help themselves. The Lord tells Moses, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt, I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes I am aware of their suffering” (Exodus 3:7).
The Lord, in His grace, called Moses to be His representative before Pharaoh to release and free the Israelites. God was going to show Himself as their mighty deliverer so no one would be in doubt about who had freed them.
Earlier in his life, Moses had attempted to help the Israelites when he saw them being oppressed. He killed an Egyptian who was beating one of his fellow Hebrews. But this action did not endear him to his fellow Israelites; rather, they essentially turned on him. What was the key difference between this act of Moses and God’s eventual call of Moses?
In his early life and actions, Moses was trying to achieve something for his people out of his own might and work. However, when God called Moses, he was no longer working in his own strength and wisdom, he was relying on God and following His leading. In Exodus 3:12 we read that God told Moses, “I will be with you.” It was God working in and through Moses that made the difference.
That was also the difference maker for me and my struggle with body image. For all those years I was laboring to bring myself freedom and peace, but to no avail because I was struggling under my own power. It wasn’t until I relinquished all control over my struggles to the Lord that I truly gained freedom.
In the days and weeks after my earnest cry for help, the Lord showed me that my struggles were actually a heart matter and not a body matter. I had made body image an idol in my life. I was looking for satisfaction and contentment from this when true contentment can come only from God and relationship with Him. He also tenderly taught me that my worth is not at all related to my physical appearance, but rather rests in the fact that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).
It was in letting go of my striving and letting God change my heart and mind on these issues that I truly gained freedom from the bondage of feeling less than.
Friend, perhaps you do not wrestle with negative self-image and negative self-worth, but I’m sure you can relate to having something under which you feel trapped, and from which, no matter how hard you try, you can’t free yourself. There’s good news for you: you can’t free yourself, but God can. Just like He was the mighty deliverer for the children of Israel, He will do the same for you. I can testify, because He did it for me too.
Relinquish your burden to Him. In your weakness, He will be your strength and He will deliver you. As God reminded the Apostle Paul, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).