Loving Your Body

valentine_leapContinued from here.

The bottom line is that we need to love our bodies because God created them. Love is not a feeling; it’s a choice. I choose to love my body every time I exercise it, feed it healthy foods, and rest it (both with sleep and downtime while awake).

Another way I choose to love my body is by thinking positive thoughts about it. Back when I hated my body, I was ultra-critical of it, staying focused on its flaws. I thought this body part was “too big” while another body part was “too small.” I sent a constant flow of negative energy into my body through my thoughts about my body.

Today, I thank God for my body exactly as it is. While I am not particularly enjoying the physical adjustments that my body is making as it moves toward menopause, my body is transforming as God designed it. Billions of women’s bodies have transitioned through the menopause process, and my body will do so as well. I confess that I look forward to the day when the hot flashes will stop disrupting my sleep, but they come in handy in the winter when I’m cold!

Ultimately, you are the one who chooses what you think. If that were not the case, Paul would not have told us to hold every thought captive to Christ. Why admonish us to do something that is out of our control? If you have had body image issues for a long time, then your default setting is likely allowing a stream of negative thoughts to run through your head completely unchallenged. It’s time to put a stop to this.

I recommend writing down scriptures on index cards that you can read aloud (and preferably memorize) whenever you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts about your body. I have provided links to several applicable Bible verses in this series that you can use. Stop passively allowing yourself to flood your mind and body with negativity. Instead, choose to agree with God that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, making is sacred and of great worth.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace jumping in the air next to a valentine. Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Your Body as a Temple of the Holy Spirit

treadmillContinued from here.

I love the physical building of my local church. While I know the Church is made up of people, we meet in a particular building, and I have deep affection for that building because that is what houses the Body the Christ. As I walk through the doors, I sense the manifest presence of God.

Because my local church’s physical building is dedicated to the service of the Living God, I care that it is properly maintained. I’m a minimalist by nature, so I’m not looking for ornamentation like I saw at the Vatican. We don’t have gold-plated molding or sophisticated stained glass windows at my church. However, our church building is clean, well-maintained, and organized. I believe that our congregation honors God by doing whatever is necessary to keep the building in good physical shape.

The same concept applies to our physical bodies, which are temples of the Holy Spirit. Just as I would not allow my local church’s physical building to fall into disrepair, I am mindful of taking good care of my physical body as God’s temple.

For example, God created my body to need 8 hours of sleep each night, so I routinely go to bed 8 hours before I need to awaken. I don’t stay up late to get more done, awaken after 5 or 6 hours of sleep, and then drink 4 cups of coffee or energy drinks to keep my body functioning after depriving it of needed sleep. Just as I respect the needs of my local church’s physical building, I respect the needs of my physical body.

Another example is being mindful of what I eat to fuel my body. While I enjoy the taste of French fries more than the taste of carrots, God created my body to be fueled by nutritional foods. Primarily eating foods with no nutritional value dishonors God’s temple. That’s not to say that we cannot eat a slice of birthday cake from time to time, but if we want to honor God with our bodies, then we need to respect the needs of our bodies by primarily fueling them with healthy foods.

A third example is exercise. For God to use my body as a temple of the Holy Spirit to reach a broken world, my body needs to be able to do so physically. If I never exercise my body, it will break down and create a barrier to going where God calls me to go and doing what God calls me to do.

See what I mean about God getting into our business?

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace running on a treadmill. Courtesy Bitmoji.]

World’s Influence on Body Image

limoContinued from here.

As I mentioned at the end of my last blog entry, someone doesn’t have to have an eating disorder to struggle with body image issues. Society is set up so that most women fall short of the “ideal” woman, causing them to view their bodies as “less than” or “not good enough.” Far too many women want the proportions of a Barbie doll, but check out this article about how a woman with those proportions could not even walk!

Magazine covers show women who are already physically beautiful, and yet even they are airbrushed to give the impression of an ideal that does not actually exist. Check out these before and after photos of various celebrities. And don’t even get me started on the teeth whitening of actors and actresses on screen.

And then there’s the limited shelf life of a beautiful woman. We are all supposed to stay between the ages of 18 and 25 for the rest of our lives, which is (obviously) a physical impossibility. Many celebrities undergo plastic surgery to try to stay looking that young, resulting in all sorts of distortions, including a perpetually surprised look in their eyebrows (which have been plucked out and then penciled back in) on a younger looking face atop an older looking neck.

As beloved children of God, we cannot allow the world to define what beauty is. You were made in God’s image, which means you are beautiful just the way you are! You do not need to conform to the World’s impossible standard of beauty to have value and worth. If God wanted you to be taller, shorter, etc., He would have made you that way. God created you to be unique. Out of all the people who have ever existed in any time period since the history of world, nobody has ever looked exactly like you, and that’s a wonderful testament how uniquely God sees you. He does not want you to look like Barbie: He loves your body exactly the way it is.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace walking the red carpet by a limo. Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Body Image Issues

upside_downIf you have been walking with God for a while, you have likely already noticed that God gets into your business. A relationship with God is not just about your spirituality, although that is certainly an important part of it. God is not only interested in spending eternity with you: He also wants to make you victorious in every area of your life on this earth.

One of my areas of defeat for decades was my body image. I hated my body. The cause of that hatred was the child abuse I suffered, particularly the rapes. While the physical act of rape only lasted for a brief period of time, the emotional fallout of the rapes left deep emotional wounds that plagued me for decades. Because my body was the door providing access to my deeply wounded soul and psyche, I rejected my body.

Just as my deep emotional wounds were inflicted through my body, temporary relief also came through my body in the form of an eating disorder. Whenever I binged on large quantities of particular foods, such as a bag of chips or a half-gallon of ice cream, the physical act of “stuffing down” food resulted in temporary emotional numbing as I “stuffed down” the pain.

Of course, when you overeat by thousands of calories, you are going gain weight … a lot of weight. The world is not kind to fat teenagers, so I was ashamed of my overweight body and would diet by restricting calories rather than by developing healthy eating patterns and eating healthy foods. I would lose weight, but then the emotional pain would become so intense that I would binge eat again … and then binge eat again to “stuff down” the shame of having no willpower … and this cycle continued for decades, fueling my hatred of my body.

Considering we were made in God’s image, God does not want us hating our bodies as I did. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, and we dishonor God when we hate them. However, simply knowing this won’t make you magically love your body, so I’d like to share my own journey in the hopes of leading anyone with body image issues to freedom in this area. Because God healed me, I know He can heal you as well!

I previously wrote a series on eating disorders, which can be helpful for other types of addictions. However, this series focuses specifically on body image, which is an issue for many people (particularly women) even without an eating disorder.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace flipping upside down. Courtesy Bitmoji.]