Wednesday, January 28, 2015

#FightBodyShaming: Truth > Lies

Body image. It's a topic that has been coming up a lot lately. Actually, it's been coming up a lot my whole life because it's an issue that all women deal with, even the super pretty, confident ones. But, because it's been a discussion topic among friends recently, I posted a little graphic yesterday on Instagram pledging to help fight body shaming, and inviting other women to join with me.

With my post, I wrote the following:
So the topic of body image keeps coming up, especially among those of us tackling the #Whole30 this month. It's a rough road and it can be hard to change your view of yourself. Most body shaming comes from within, when we have an unrealistic and unhealthy expectation of ourselves. The first step to tackling body shaming is to tackle yourself--fighting those self-depreciating lies you tell yourself every time you look in the mirror. As January ends, I'm taking a pledge to stop my personal, inner body shaming, and I think you should too. If you want, repost this image and share the pledge with your friends. Together we can build each other up and fight against body shaming.
Of course anything having to do with self esteem and body image is so much easier said than done. So I started thinking, what are some practical ways we as women can help ourselves fight against the hurtful lies of body shaming? That's where I got the idea for this post and I will be working on new ideas as well. My hope is to "connect" everything with the tag #FightBodyShaming. I'm by no means a mental health expert. I'm just a woman trying to encourage myself and my fellow ladies down a path of positivity, truth, and life.

Telling yourself not to believe a lie only gets you half-way. It's like telling yourself what you can't eat, but not giving yourself something to eat. You need something to replace the thing you're removing. Remove a lie, replace it with the truth. So rather than meditating on the things you don't like about your body or what you think is wrong with you, fill your mind with truth about you, your body, and your life.

The Bible has lots of great verses to help in this area, and I want to highlight a few that stood out to me. I want to meditate on these verses any time I'm tempted to think poorly of myself, and I would encourage you to do the same. The best way to counter internal body shaming is with the truth of our Creator. He made us, loves us, and wants us to listen to Him above all else. (All Scripture quotations included are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.)

Proverbs 31:30 - "Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised."

What this says to me: There's nothing wrong with being beautiful, but it won't last forever. I should invest myself and my self worth in what will last forever. I need to develop my relationship with the Lord and put Him first in my life. Knowledge of Him gives me the value I so desperately need.

Psalm 139:13-14 - "For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well."

What this says to me: This passage says so much. First, I am created by the God of the universe, every part of me He formed when I was in the womb. He decided what shape my face would have, my hair and eye color. To want to change myself is to wish away that which the King of kings designed. A small picture of that would be one of us creating what we think is a beautiful work of art, something we poured our time and heart into, only to have everyone tell us what we should have done. To truly appreciate what has been made, we have to appreciate what it is, what is there, not what is not or what could be.

Second, I should marvel at God's creation, and praise Him for what He has made. And, as uncomfortable as it may be, that does include me and you and every other person on the planet. Degrading ourselves or others is directly opposite of praising God. I need to transform thoughts of myself to praise, thanking God for what He has made.

Finally, the truth is, God makes wonderful things. I know it, I need to believe it, and I need to let that knowledge directly affect how I view myself. If God makes wonderful things, I am one of those wonderful things He has made. I'm defined by this truth, not by the things I see in the mirror, or wish I didn't see.

Genesis 1:27 - "So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female."

What this says to me: Not only am I a wonderful creation, as stated in the previous verse, I am made in the image of God. Just try to wrap your mind around that for a moment. Genesis tells us twice in this verse that we are created in God's image, so we know it's extra important. I can't really fit in this space what that means or the ramifications of such a statement. Men and women are a unique reflection of Creator God that no other part of creation can be. And it's not just our appearance, though that is part of it. We also have an eternal nature, a spirit. We are complex beings made in the image of an even more complex Being. How awesome is that?!

Ephesians 2:10 - "For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them."

What this says to me: God didn't arbitrarily make us because He wanted to design something cool and pretty to decorate the planet. He created us for a purpose: a life in Christ Jesus full of important and good work, that He prepared ahead of time. That means our purpose here was divinely orchestrated before we were even born. How amazing and wonderful to know that God has a plan for you and me. This should encourage us in the times where we don't feel like we're measuring up or being our best. God's plan and work are behind-the-scenes, and our purpose is certain.

Hebrews 10:24 - "And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works..."

What this says to me: I should be more concerned about others than myself. That is love, to give up my life and myself for others and the work of the Lord. If I'm primarily focused on what's wrong with me, I'm not focusing on the needs of others and I'm harming the community I'm in. What I need to do is get out of my own way so that I can focus on what's really important.

1 Peter 3:3-4 - "Your beauty should not consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothes. Instead, it should consist of what is inside the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very valuable in God’s eyes."

What this says to me: I feel like this passage speaks for itself. It's not saying that there is anything wrong with beauty or clothes, hairstyles or jewelry. But it is saying that true beauty doesn't exist in those things. True beauty is defined by the Creator and what He values. Those things can be found inside the heart, along with the qualities of a gentle and quiet spirit. Doesn't that just feel calming and invigorating at the same time?

I hope these verses encourage you as they have encouraged me. I hope that together we can start replacing damaging lies and self-doubt with the truths of God's word. He loves you, wants you, and thinks you are the beautiful pinnacle of His creation.

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