(By Ruthann Dellandrea)
I listened to a podcast recently and it spoke to deep places in my heart where I’ve wrestled and struggled for far too long. It has caused a stirring in my soul. Do we see ourselves through our Father’s eyes?
I really feel, more strongly than ever before, that God wants us all deeply rooted and grounded in His truths and more specifically, in how we view our bodies. He knows it will be life-altering; our attitudes and minds will be changed and renewed.
I really believe that one of the greatest spiritual battles in our generation is the war for our minds, because what we focus on we empower. How we think affects how we live. When we allow feelings to be bearers of truth, feelings become beliefs. Our emotions can be powerful and persistent responses to what we believe at the moment. A lie believed as truth will affect our life as if it were true. What we perceive and believe becomes our reality.
This is the enemy’s main strategy to keep us bound by lies and stuck in old patterns and misconceptions. His target is our mind and his weapon is lies. Our God wants us fighting these lies with His truth. The belt of truth is our weapon: it is knowing the Word of God for ourselves, and it will hold us up when the enemy wants to weigh us down with lies and deceit. God wants us focusing on His truth and rejecting the lies because they bring insecurity, chaos, and destruction. God’s truth brings peace, confidence, and life. He wants our minds renewed with His truth.
I’ve realized that body shaming is a thing even when we aren’t aware of it. We live in a culture where body shaming is on the rise. As Christian women, we are not immune to it. It can be a stronghold and a struggle. Somewhere along the way shame became a lens through which many of us experienced our bodies either in the growing up years or later in life. (Maybe a family member said something in a judging manner or our family’s false stories of worth were connected to physical perfection.)
The message can seep into our souls that anything less than a perfect body is a body to be ashamed of. Body shaming not only wreaks havoc on our body, but it can also crush our spirit and soul.
We can think we are either too thin, too heavy, not toned enough or we don’t look like we used to, or we agonize over our problem areas. We tend to see only our flaws and so many things we need to change. It feels like such an obsession sometimes. It’s like our bodies are a project: lose weight, gain weight, work out, don’t work out. I’ve realized that it’s really just body shame in disguise.
Our body image can get complicated and confused in the world we live in. Our culture is saturated with opinions and loud voices. At times, they can be louder than the voice we need to listen to as Christians. They bombard us with hurtful messages about the high value of beauty and physical perfection. We absorb the message that love, acceptance, and approval are tied to our weight. We can feel that our bodies don’t meet the world’s standard of beauty because physical beauty is always on a pedestal.
I think we all hold broken beliefs when it comes to our bodies and would agree that body shame is a thing that some of us deal with. It can manifest itself in criticizing our own appearance through judgment or comparison to another person or in criticizing another’s appearance.
The belief that body image is just a shallow concern is a lie from the enemy. He doesn’t want us to have a positive body image, but a negative one. He wants us jealously comparing ourselves so our joy is squashed.
He wants us insecure. He wants us with no confidence. He wants us prideful and focusing on ourselves and seeing our bodies only in the light of our flaws. He wants it to infect every element of our mind so it will distort God’s truth. He wants us feeling worthless. He doesn’t want us listening to what God says about us. He doesn’t want us understanding and believing what God sees in us.
But all of this is so far from the truth and the vision that our Father has for us. God wants us focusing on Him, trusting Him, and believing Him. He values us and made us in love, and He wants our identity rooted in Him and for us to find our value in what He says about us, and not in what the world says.
God sees us as having infinite value and worth. He wants us identifying these lies that can occupy our minds and replace anything untrue with His truth. Knowing our identity in Christ is foundational and it anchors us when the enemy attacks.
Until we understand that we are God’s masterpiece, we’ll never be content with our features and how He has made us. Until we let His grace replace our striving for body perfection, our hearts will yearn for acceptance and approval from people.
On the cross, He alleviated our greatest fear of not being accepted. On the cross He suffered so we can be confident in our identity. Ephesians 1:6 says that we are accepted in the Beloved, Jesus Christ. He speaks “accepted” over us and what He says trumps all the lies we’ve heard spoken to us or about us and our view of ourselves.
The word “accepted” in the original Greek is a word far richer in meaning than the English translation can convey. It’s the word χαριτόω (charitoō) and it means highly favored. We are highly favored by Jesus Christ no matter our body size or shape. Everything changes when we let this truth become embedded in our souls. It’s knowing it, believing it, and making it real in our bodies.
I really believe that the broken beliefs about our bodies hold us back from our fullest lives. (At least with me.) They change how we interact with people, how we enjoy life, how we see the world, and how we perceive ourselves and who He’s made us to be and what we’re capable of.
We are created in God’s image and we are given a redeemed and perfect beauty through a new identity in Christ. Yet we sometimes and repeatedly reject our true identity. He made our bodies with intention. There is nothing accidental about us.
He made all our features. He gave us all unique qualities. Sometimes these unique qualities make us feel different rather than beautiful — but He planned every little thing about us from the color of our eyes to the intricate design of our personality — even the sound of our laugh. That’s the detailed work that has gone into us with a level of perfection we can’t even fathom.
We were all made a specific way. We can choose to accept what He says about our bodies or we can agree with what the world says, which would be that we need to fit into some kind of cultural expectation. We weren’t made for body shaming.
I think it is so important that we address what to do with body shame and how Jesus wants to clothe our body shame with His honor. His beauty is our covering. When we chase after beauty in clothing, thinness, shapely muscles, etc., we are missing the ultimate beauty that God sees: that of our hearts.
He is our ultimate secret weapon. It’s a beauty none of us can achieve but which we are given through faith in Jesus Christ. He was marred and physically disfigured, bearing our shame to its full extent on the cross, so that we could be beautiful from the inside out.
As we start the journey toward a right Biblical relationship with our body—losing the frustration, disappointment, and shame of somehow never feeling enough in our body, we will begin to fight against the lies of body shaming and weave a path to freedom from the trap of constant improvement mode to acceptance mode. It’s a subtle mind shift that can totally make a difference when we respond to the truth that God made our bodies good. It’s like a restoration happens in our heart, where we can make the shift from speaking negatively about our bodies that God has given us, to speaking life and treating our bodies well.
He wants us walking courageously in that freedom because He knows we will begin to view ourselves differently and not give body shaming any oxygen to breathe. Something beautiful happens as we put His truth in our hearts and let it define us. When feelings of inadequacy creep in, we need to keep going back to His pages of trustworthy truth.
I think when we realize how seriously God values us, we are able to embrace and accept our bodies as God does and not make our bodies a project to support self-esteem. We need to really listen to God’s words of love to us and truly believe them. Through the spirit’s power, we can begin to fight against the lies of body shaming and write a new story. It starts with us. The way we see ourselves will transmit to the next generation and impact generations to come.
Heavenly Father, as we start each day, help us to fight against the lies of the enemy. Help us to bring all our struggles to You and lay them all at Your feet. Father, help us to demolish strongholds of shame.
Father, help us to not compare ourselves with others. We are each unique. Lord, help us to make healthy lifestyle choices as we seek to honor our bodies for You. Help us to radiate God-confidence, to see ourselves in the beauty of Your love and fullness, and to experience the beauty of self-acceptance as it’s totally rooted in our identity in You. Please help us to focus on You and Your truth.
Lord, help us to embrace how beautiful, unique, and profoundly significant we are in Your eyes. Help us to thrive and live free from the stronghold of body shaming. Help us to realize that it’s in the power of Your name that we can walk in freedom for Your glory.
You want us to find our confidence in You. You want Your truth to soak into our souls so we are able to hear You whisper these words to us every day: “My precious daughter, you are enough in Me. I see no flaws in you, you are fearfully and wonderfully made, you are highly favored, beautiful, a sight to behold, accepted, adored, deeply loved, covered by My grace and you belong to Me.”
Lord Jesus, help us to anchor ourselves in this reality every day because knowing Your truth and living Your truth changes everything. Help us rise up and together walk in the freedom that You always intended for us. Father, help us daily to see ourselves through Your eyes as it will bring healing, revival, and freedom. In Your great name. Amen.
Photo Credit: Timothy Eberly