By Tarah Curry
There are far too many of my mornings spent lurking in the bathroom mirror. Front view, side view, then back to front, and back to side again – a repetitive motion that ultimately gets me nowhere. I slide my hands around my frame and sigh in disappointment. Some days I’m caught in this abusive act by my husband, who immediately pushes the negative self-talk out of our bathroom, along with my body. But that’s a glimpse of my bad days. The days I forget who I truly am, which is not the reflection staring back at me.
Body image is plastered all over everything nowadays. Standards, expectations, and then the rejection of those standards and expectations. We are so busy holding ourselves accountable to an earthly standard that does not exist in the Kingdom. Why is that?
About eight months ago, I started a journey to lose weight. I was ready. I was prepared. I clung to scripture: Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
That speaks on so many levels, but in this instance, I clung to it for a healthier lifestyle. I wanted to do just that: honor God with my body. But instead, it became such a dishonor. Initially, I was dropping weight rapidly. In the first four months, I had lost nearly thirty pounds. My self-esteem was sky-high. But the second I stopped getting the numeric results, I was upset with myself. Unsatisfied. Disappointed. And back to my ugly morning ritual of body shaming myself in my bathroom mirror.
But where in the Bible does it say that God cares about a number on a scale? This is not to discount the fact that we should strive to be healthy and we should treat our bodies as the temples they are called to be, but not when an obsession with an outward appearance overshadows our true identity in Christ.
I have learned that my best results in anything come by looking at myself through a God lens. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. Timothy 4:8
In a social media-infused world, it is so easy to want to glean from the lives of those we see on the Internet. Maybe your body didn’t return to its original composition after childbirth; maybe you struggle with overeating when life gets tough; or maybe you struggle to gain weight. None of those things define who you are. They are only stepping stones to want to get better for the glory of God. But ultimately, every aspect of our self-image should be a reflection of the way our Heavenly Father views us, not the unrealistic expectations of the media. As it says in Galatians 1, If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Maybe you have an ugly morning ritual of your own. In those moments when I so easily slip back in to that mindset, I pray. I step back, take my hands off my stomach, and I pray. I pray for new eyes to see me as the creation I am, not the creation I think I should be. And I think loving ourselves for exactly who we are as children of God encourages the ultimate self-love, self-esteem, and desire for an all-around healthy lifestyle. The results are secondary to the love and the truth poured out over us from the hands of God himself.