20 Mar The Truth About My Body
I was 16 weeks pregnant with my second child. I arrived at the doctor’s office feeling good about myself, considering the only appetizing food to me was Cheetoes.
Despite the lack of nutritious food, I was still (barely) in regular clothes. Since I didn’t keep a scale at home, clothes were my litmus test that I had not been addicted to overeating as in my first pregnancy. And I don’t say addiction lightly – I was addicted. It was sin. As I stepped off the scale, the nurse wrote down the number on her chart and said, “Well, honey, you don’t look like you weigh that much.”
I hadn’t gained any weight since my last visit.
Pretend this was said to you. Or remember a time when something like this was said to you. Now conjure up the possible range of emotions that could be evoked from such a comment: Shame. Unworthiness. Pride. Failure. Anger. Apathy. Despair. This storm of feelings about my body has been the undercurrent of my life for decades. I operate like an orphan without a home, without direction. Truth about my body used to come from what others say about me. Or how I feel about me that day. Or “I am what I eat”. So what do I do with this memory, and the dozen others from my childhood on, and the emotions that they evoke in my heart? How do I preach the truth about my body to myself?
Take it to the Cross
The first thing I must do is take my pride, shame, anger and despair to the cross. Because these are emotions, feelings. They are not reality. There is pain, very real pain, but there is no truth about my body in what was said to me. Sometimes I love my emotions. They feel natural, and it’s hard to let them go. Where do I go with my anger, except to turn it into resolve and rise above other’s expectations about my body? What is food for, except to fill the void after letting go of my despair and apathy? I must not let my emotions and my pain become my truth. Will I lay down my emotions only to exchange them for control? Or fear? Oswald Chambers describes sanctification in Christ as “being willing to let go before we can grasp something else.”
Fill my heart with God’s truth
After laying my emotions down, I must fill my heart with God’s truth about my body. I may not feel it. I may not even believe it right away. But I must cling to it, because it is the only way to life. I know, because I have tried every other way – exercise, counting calories, whole food, no food, half-food, and not trying at all. And all of those measures, while not bad things, I turn into tools in the hand of a warrior out to win one for their kingdom. A kingdom that will always come to ruin. The thinnest is the winner, right? Or is it the fittest is the winner? Or the healthiest eater?
I must choose faith. Romans 14:23 warns, “Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” I must operate from a heart of faith. A heart of faith does not strive. A heart of faith does not compete. A heart of faith does not compare. A heart of faith does not despair. And I can have faith in a Savior who sympathizes with my weaknesses, because He too was flesh and blood. (Hebrews 4:15) But unlike me, He did what I could not do, which was be obedience and faith for me. To the point of death, mine and His.
God’s truth about my body, our bodies, can be found in many places in Scripture. For today, my heart of faith chooses to rest in this truth: “Let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! Thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Cor. 15:51, 57) I will preach it to myself – when I walk by the bathing suits at Target. When I exercise in a room full of other women. When I am confronted by a fresh pan of brownies, and no one is around. When I am once again taking medicine for that chronic pain. I will let go, knowing He is faithful to catch His children as we grasp for Him.
What body image do you feel burdened to bear? How are you living like an orphan when it comes to the truth about your body? In what ways can we begin to turn from the lies we believe and cling to what God says is true about our bodies?
– Molly Burns, Pelham