Don’t get me wrong. Fitness and healthy eating habits have been a part of my life for a long time. I believe in nourishing the one body I have been given because it’s honoring to God.
But there’s a battle going on and I’ve been wounded.
Maybe you have too?
Perhaps we should start by traveling back to the Garden of Eden when a lie gave birth to sin. Satan deceived Eve into believing that by disobeying God, she could have more. I wonder how long she stopped to think before biting into the apple. I wonder why Adam didn’t resist. God desired their obedience, but they chose sin.
At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. ~Genesis 3:7 (NLT)
Out of their shame, they felt the need to cover up their bodies. And the aftershock of that moment has propelled its way into the present moment where our lungs inhale the air of a sin-infested world.
Satan’s goal is still the same – to kill, steal and destroy. He continues to work through deception, convincing us that certain things will lead to deeper satisfaction. He knows the very opposite is true. The love, peace, joy, hope, freedom, and all the good God wants to give us —
Satan wants to rob us of it all.
He robbed me once. I believed his lies coated in poison, disguised as something sweet. The red arrow on the light blue scale fell under 105 pounds, and my shivering body stopped cycling through the normal rhythms of being a woman.
After traveling the road of recovery for a year, I hit a bump. Running, ballet, and gym workouts on top of being a full-time college student, was my normal. Exercise became an obsession and made me feel less guilty for eating what was too many calories in my mind. In reality, I usually didn’t eat enough to compensate my activity level.
Unlike the previous years of my struggle with bulimia, people noticed my descending weight. I denied the battle that was raging fierce, until one night I got really scared and reached out for help – again.
What I thought would satisfy, didn’t quench my thirsty soul.
I got skinnier. My body reached the weight I thought would bring me the something better I wanted. But instead of satisfaction I felt empty, afraid, and ashamed of my sin.
My real desire wasn’t to be skinny or have a perfect body. My real desire was to feel loved and accepted, but my wounded mind was spinning with lies which said I was anything but enough. I reached for what I thought would numb the pain, but control slipped through my fingers.
Over a decade later, I walk in healthier pastures with the Lord as my Redeemer. I claim the truth that we are all wonderfully made in the image of God, but this clashes with a world saturated in unhealthy messages.
Our self-glorification culture is full of diets galore, gadgets that promise weight-loss, potions that promise to erase the signs of aging, plastic surgery with a high price tag, moms feeling the pressure to “get their bodies back” three months after having babies, grocery store check-out lines plastered with adult celebrities that have teenage bodies…
Why are we so hungry to change and perfect our bodies? Why do we cringe at stretch marks, extra baby weight, wrinkles, and gray hairs? Why aren’t we satisfied?
Maybe we’re content with the reflection in the mirror sometimes, but how long will it be before we want more? How long will it be before we notice another flaw? Another something we want to change?
The more self-focused we become, the deeper the hole grows, and the enemy is right there to tempt us to take a bite of the apple. Shedding pounds for health reasons, exercising, and eating sensibly, can be good roads to pursue. But when they become obsessions, they become idols — and that is a dangerous road to tread.
Our seen bodies are temporary, but our unseen souls last eternally. We can spend a lifetime trying to preserve our bodies, but they won’t tick on forever.
This upside down thinking is not the message of our culture, but the message of our culture doesn’t save. The message of our culture doesn’t know the secret to being truly content. The message of our culture has been stained by sin just like you and I have. The message of our culture doesn’t have the promise of hope, true freedom, lasting joy, or peace which passes all understanding. The message of our culture will try to steer us as far away from the Man who bore the scars on His body because He loves us so much more than or human minds can comprehend.
But the message of our culture can’t stop Him, for He has already conquered it all. He loves us passionately and He gave HIS body for you, for me, for our freedom.
Jesus, the only perfect Man, God in flesh, allowed His perfect body to be bruised, beaten, and pierced. And as He hung on the Cross paying the debt that wasn’t His, His perfect love won our freedom. The King of kings, knelt low to save us.
And there is a thirst in all of us for Him.
The perfect body obsession that floods our culture is a death trap. You won’t read that in a magazine or hear it on television.
But I know because I’ve walked the road of thorns.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. ~Romans 12:2 (NLT)
In my early 20’s, I began to realize that if I really wanted to be free, I’d have to be okay with looking different than the rest of the world. If I really wanted to heal from wounds too deep for human hands to fix, then I would have to let go of the things I held onto so tightly.
The way to lasting satisfaction isn’t found in achieving a perfect body, but in daily kneeling low in surrender to One who is perfect — for He is the One who perfects us. The broken spaces find healing when our gaze is on Jesus.
Maybe that’s why dying to ourselves is so important…because only then, can we truly live. Only then can we gaze at life through eternal eyes that see far beyond the frames that hold our souls.
*Top photo credit