If I were vain, I’d call them “fan mail”. (But luckily, I’m too pretty to be vain.) Instead, I take them for what they are – people reaching out. Anytime I see one in my inbox, my mind fills with worry about what I’ll say, whether the words will be anointed, even before I click open. The major theme among the emails:
DISCONTENTMENT and A DESIRE TO CHANGE.
Although I feel uneasy about these emails, it’s pretty easy for me to respond. Because I’ve been there. Heck, at moments, I’m still there. The only difference between now and 5 years ago is that I’ve learned how to overpower any negative, self-hate thoughts that come in my mind. I simply say, “I’m fearfully and wonderfully made.”
I can’t refute that. And neither can the voices.
This particular reader email that I’m about to share encompasses the very things I said I love writing about: GOD and BODY IMAGE. I’m sure there are other (correct and helpful) ways that this topic could have been approached, but, after some prayer and reflection, I responded the best I knew how. I’d love to hear YOUR thoughts on the matter in the comments!
Here we go.
SUBJECT: Help and Encouragement needed! Please.
I know you probably hear this a lot, but I think you should hear it again- What an awesome blog! Truly a blessing to come across!! I have followed many blogs in the past, but I was especially drawn to yours because of your spirituality. I’ve shared many of your struggles in the past (restrictive eating/laxative abuse) and am happy to say that God pulled me out of all of that last year. The mental and emotional healing is still in progress.
That’s where I have a question for you. I still struggle with weighing myself multiple times a day and counting calories excessively, only to be disappointed with any progress, or lack there of. I’ve finally come to a place where I want the body God intended me to have. I want it.
Regardless of what the scale says, or how many calories I eat a day, I want what God intended for me to have. And I don’t think I’m that far off! (In my mind, probably 10-12lbs). I DO believe that the buck doesn’t stop here- that God has an even better body in store for me.
My question is this- how? How do you trust God with something that you have always been in control of? And not just that, but something that you have been FIERCELY in control of? I know that my efforts will only lead to frustration and not being successful (doing it in my own strength, that is). But trusting God, letting Him direct me in this area, is probably the hardest obstacle I’ve come to in my journey.
The first thing I wrote back was, “Before I answer your question, tell me what you mean by you’re 10-12 pounds from the body God wants you to have. Are you 10 pounds over that goal or under that goal? Knowing that will help me answer you!” The reader answered back that she was 10-12 pounds ABOVE that weight. With that knowledge in mind (and again, some prayer time), I was able to respond.
It’s so hard when a person who has struggled with disordered eating wants to lose weight. Because all of the tips and things that I could tell you to do, often backlash and our past comes back to haunt us. I’d like to ask – Why do you think that the body that God wants you to have is 10 pounds lighter??
Honestly, God doesn’t really care about your body size, but rather, your heart. That being said, I don’t think He necessarily wants you to be fat or overweight or uncomfortable. He wants your HEART to be in a good place. For you to love yourself. For you to treat your body with respect. He made the body you’re in right at this moment. 10 pounds “overweight.” And I don’t think He cares what the number is.
I threw my scale in the garbage because it was controlling me. I don’t count calories anymore because they were controlling me. I’m working right now to cut back on an exercise addiction that is controlling me. I know that, for me, I had to stop cold turkey and really GIVE IT OVER to God. In the end, it’s your heart that matters. What are you putting before Him? These things become idols in our lives and what God so desperately wants is for HIM to be an idol. I can guarantee you, if you give these things up and ask God to guide you, He will honor that sacrifice!
The body, your weight, how you look in clothes – all trivial and NOT eternal.
You are definitely in my prayers – I hope what I said doesn’t come across as the wrong answer – it’s just my heart.
The message that I can’t stop repeating, the whole idea behind “Tearing Down Idols”, is this:
Put your time and effort into THE HEART. Into others. Into your marriage/family/community. When those aspects of your life are fulfilled, the number on the scale won’t matter. It just won’t. It will pale in the light of the sense of peace and contentment that comes from focusing on the things that TRULY MATTER. I promise.
Does this mean you should stop working out and eating healthfully? Absolutely not. I KNOW that God made our bodies to MOVE. I also know that He wants us to respect our bodies by nourishing them with foods that fuel, rather than harm.
It’s the obsession with all things BODY that I disagree with.
Will the number on the scale matter when you die? Will your perfect body give you eternal life?
The body – no. The heart – YES!
QUESTION: What are your thoughts on using the phrase, “The body God intended me to have?”