According to the NEDA, “Body image is how you see yourself when you look in the mirror or when you picture yourself in your mind. People with negative body image have a greater likelihood of developing an eating disorder and are more likely to suffer from feelings of depression, isolation, low self-esteem, and obsessions with weight loss.”
I’m familiar with all of the above.
Almost 15 years ago, Jesus came to my rescue, and over time, set me free from an eating disorder.
While there are varying opinions among experts and variations among statistics, organizations such as the NIMH and NEDA, agree that eating disorders (in particular) may involve a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors.
As Christians, we know that there is a spiritual war going on. There are spiritual factors which contribute to body image issues, eating disorders, food addictions, and fill-in-the-blank.
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. ~Ephesians 6:11-12 (ESV)
Spiritually speaking, the battle belongs to the Lord (2 Chronicles 20:15) and I believe that true freedom can only be experienced in Him — and this is my personal testimony.
The most life changing book I have read on my journey of healing is the Living Word of God. There isn’t a 10-step checklist on how to overcome a negative body image in the Bible, but the revelation of God’s love is powerful. Everything we need to know is there; etched on the pages are wise words drenched in truth, hope, and love.
God, the One who designed us with such care, hears us when we cry:
Will this battle ever end?
It is often our struggles and weaknesses which awaken us to our deep need for God. Jesus said we would have trials in this world, but our hope is that He has overcome the world (John 16:33). Without Him, we are without hope. Without Him, the body image struggle is overwhelming.
In Him, is the freedom we crave.
A friend recently reminded me of the story of when the Lord brought the Israelites out of slavery from Egypt. During their 40-year journey in the wilderness, God provided them with manna and told them to only gather enough manna for each day (Exodus 16). He didn’t want them to hoard food, but He wanted them to stay dependent on HIM to provide for their needs.
God wants us to remain dependent on Him through the wilderness of healing from a wounded body image. He is the Bread of Life, the supplier of all our needs, and He gives us just enough manna for each day. He wants us to come to Him—daily—to be filled and transformed more into His likeness.
When we’re hungry, He says come taste.
When the mirror lies, He says come see your worth in Me.
When we stray, He says come back.
He invites us into continual relationship with Him and equips us to endure the battle:
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. ~ Ephesians 6:13-18 (ESV)
There is hope for the battle. It may take a 40-year desert journey of being refined until we reach the Promised Land, but each step of faith is a step forward. Along the way as we remain in Him, our wounds find healing and the heavy chains loosen, eventually falling to the ground.
Remembering that He is faithful, we can keep journeying, keeping believing, keep depending on Him, and keep trusting in His unchanging promises. The body image battle is a fierce one, the enemy wants us to believe it can’t be won, but the victory belongs to Christ — for the darkness could not overcome Him.
He is our way through.
He is our only hope.
He is the reason I can write these words.
He is the One who brought me out the darkness and into the light.
When our trust is in the Lord, we’re on our way to a kingdom where our feet will forever dance to the tune of freedom.