(By Heather Marshall)
“Ooof,” I sighed as I looked in the mirror while getting ready for the day, my gaze focused on the extra pounds that I had accumulated around my middle after having three children. Condemning thoughts filling my mind, like:
“It’s been many years since I had my sons, why haven’t I lost the weight?”
“People must think I’m lazy and undisciplined for not having lost this weight.”
I had tried many diets and exercise plans and had some success but never for long and I found myself on this cycle of obsessing over my body and then in turn neglecting it when I became frustrated and overwhelmed. I had reached a breaking point and I prayed, “Lord, help me to see a way through this, I can’t do it anymore.”
In His loving and gracious way, He answered my prayer and helped me lose this weight. What?! You may be thinking, the Lord helped you lose weight?! Not in the way you might be thinking.
He helped me lose the weight of guilt and shame that I had been living under with respect to my body image. I am still on this journey of freedom from body shame, but I would like to share a few of the truths that the Lord has revealed to me along this journey.
Body image is a spiritual issue.
For years I believed that my body was separate from my spirituality and that it was not something that concerned the Lord. I never even considered bringing my struggles in this area before Him. Did you know that 97% of women struggle with body image? The enemy definitely knows this stat and from our earliest days, we are bombarded with images and comments that shape our perception of our bodies as not being good or enough.
This is a lie straight from Satan.
So, this fact alone convinces me that body image is a spiritual issue. Also, as I looked more into my own heart on this matter, I realized that I was looking for satisfaction in the form of becoming a size and shape that fit with cultural “norms.”
When we look for satisfaction from anything other than the Lord, this indicates that this thing has become an idol in your life.
This was the case for me, the thought “I’ll be happy when I lose weight” was a red flag for me. The verse that the Lord used to speak to me on this was Matthew 22:37; Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind.”
I realized that I had put the issue of my body image ahead of the Lord and it had become an idol. I was not loving Him with all my heart, soul, and mind.
Confession and forgiveness are essential.
Once I realized my sin and the error of my thoughts, I had to confess it before the Lord and receive his forgiveness as He has promised. “If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness” (1 John 1:9).
Another exercise that I found helpful as I went along this journey to freedom from body shame was looking into my past at various points when Satan had used either comments from others or misconceived slights to shape my thoughts about myself. I had to extend forgiveness (both to others and to myself) for these times I ignorantly chose to believe comments about my body or when I participated in conversations that may have caused others to feel body shame.
I now realize that the enemy is the enemy, but any time I choose to think or speak negatively about the body that God has given me, I am complicit in his devious ways. I also recognize that any time I participate in a conversation that implies that our bodies are not good enough the way they are, I am also participating in the enemy’s underhanded schemes.
I do not want to be a part of that anymore, instead, I want to lift my sisters up to freedom from body shame!