I spent the whole day outside with my kids in the yard. They splashed wild in the inflatable pool, while I sat under the umbrella working and reading. With the heat nearing 90, I came inside to change into something cooler. After trying on a couple of things that no longer fit, I felt the waves of discouragement begin to roll over me. This body is not what it once was.
Giving up on the sun-dress idea, I reach instead for my swim-dress (yea, so I have become THAT mom) It’s stretchy and it fits. I put it on and stare long at myself with critical eyes. Standing in front of the mirror I hear the whispers begin inside. My eyes travel the landscape of my reflection to all of my “trouble spots”. It seems the peace negotiations with my body rage on.
I have looked into glass and felt utter contempt for this tent, this skin that houses these bones, this heart. I have flipped through magazines and felt nothing other than the weight of obvious inadequacy, as I stared empty into airbrushed beauty. I remember the difficult years of middle school, of being small and late to bloom, I remember the dreaded feeling of changing in the locker room in High School, of hiding in stalls to change clothes.
I remember countless hours spent reading ‘girl’ magazines only to set them aside and feel completely disgusted for all of the ways I failed to measure up.
I remember friends sucking down diet pills and trying to survive on just an apple all day. And while I never did these things, I abused my body in other ways. I told myself horrible lies about who I was. And I believed every single word. In the past, I have let all sorts of other things define who I am.
That was a long time ago. And despite being all grown up now, the struggle continues to wreak havoc on my heart. Everything has changed yet this issue continues to haunt me. I have a husband who loves me and children who say they “love me so much their hearts are bursting with love for me”, and isn’t that something? Even more than this, I have a Heavenly Father who created me in his image, and for years I have spit back at that image. I have held up hands and refused to look at it. I have cried and hated that image for all it’s human flaws and snags.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13
This frame, this body, is a greenhouse of sorts, and in it. seeds have been planted and sown and grown, it has expanded and contracted to hold safe inside, the life of four other human beings. I have looked disgusted at it, and thrown rocks at it. I have smashed greenhouse windows with my negative thoughts about the shape of this body.
Yes, this body has acted as a greenhouse, a sweaty, hormonal, space that has been filled and emptied, it has endured the long uncomfortable seasons of growth but isn’t it supposed to be a temple? Isn’t there supposed to be a place for the Holy Spirit to dwell within? I would no sooner walk past a temple, and pitch stones through it’s stained glass windows, or call out as I pass by that Holy place, how ugly I think it may be. Not ever. Yet when it comes to this figure, I don’t even hesitate. I hurl rocks of cruel words as if my life depends on it some days.
“Your still so big.”
“Your middle is so smooshy.”
” Your legs are thick”
“Your arms are flabby”
“Look at your thighs! “
“You are not good enough.”
While I know these are the poisonous lies of the deceiver, still some days, they fall like truth on my ears. I hear them, I repeat them and I believe them. I have used them to assault myself, as a twisted form of motivation to eat better, run more, lose more weight–to somehow encourage myself to be good enough.
I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well. Psalm 139:14
I know that when the assault threatens to begin, when the lies creep up, I am reminded that they are in fact, lies. I can find a great number of encouraging words to replace them with,
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
How can something created in the image of the Father be anything less than magnificent? God has created an entire world that blossoms beauty everywhere, under every stone, and behind every tree, this whole incredible creation, a reflection of his magnificent glory. We have defiled his works, we have mutilated what he originally created and saw as “good” and done our best to re-make beauty in our own image.
But our ability to define beauty, our ability to create beauty, doesn’t even compare to the work of the Master. We are finger painters to God’s Michelangelo. We can only know real beauty, real worth, through knowing and defining ourselves through Christ.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
All of the stones I have thrown, all of the various ways I have afflicted injury on my own heart, all of the lies I have swallowed and taken as nourishment are easily defeated by the truth that is found in allowing Christ to define me.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? 1 Corinthians 6:19
This body I have, however imperfect, or soft, or round or lumpy or weak, weather it’s too pale or too freckled, legs too short, weather the tag in my jeans is an 8 or an 18, (and I have worn both) It is none-the-less a Temple to be kept and honored as such. This flawed skin and sometimes untamable hair is all a gift created in the image of the Father, for his glory. The deceiver would have you (and I) believe otherwise. The world would have you believe otherwise as well. But our worth, our value, comes not from either of these sources, but strictly from the one who made us.
What we know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we’ll see him-and in seeing him, become like him. 1 John 3:2 (Msg)
The only one who determines our value, the only one who has a right to, is Christ Jesus.
Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:7