Reader emails.

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.

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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.

Dear Lindsay,
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.

Your thoughts?

Whoa.

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.

Dear Reader,

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.

Lindsay

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. 

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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?

No.

The body – no.  The heart – YES!

QUESTION:  What are your thoughts on using the phrase, “The body God intended me to have?”

splendid…lindsay

  1. Meghan @ After the Ivy League says:

    This is similar to something I went through several months ago. When I realized how much control food/counting calories/dieting etc had over my life, I was honestly disgusted with myself. I couldn’t believe I had let something so little become something so big in my life. I started filling my time with more important things, and stopped myself from wasting time on counting calories. Eventually, it got easier and easier, and now at this point, the urge to count is pretty much non-existent. It’s a process, but it’s nothing we can’t handle :)

  2. Jess says:

    Wow. I seriously have SO many thoughts on this but no WORDS to shape my thoughts around. Just wow. All of it. All of your words to that reader and her words to you — you both taught eachother something new, opened eachother’s eyes to something new and different and unique. Perspective like THIS is what I crave in fellow spiritual souls like yours. It spurs ME to think differently, to strive to always put Him first, His thoughts first, His path for me first. It’s SO hard to do, and honestly, I’m not ‘there’ most of the time. But I try. Because that’s what He wants from us: our best effort, our best foot forward, our best attempt. Right??

  3. Jessica, the_toned_teach says:

    What a blessing it was she reached out to YOU! You are so wise and bold to speak the truth into her life. God does not determine His children’s worth or His satisfaction in them by a number a machine says… it even says “man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the HEART!!”

  4. Annette@FitnessPerks says:

    An obsession of the body can become an idol–which is dangerous & super sad. Unfortunately in our days, that is where the media is trying to take us. If we don’t focus on things that matter most (God, family, spirituality, becoming more Christlike), we’ll fall slipperily down that slope. GREAT points!

  5. JennyV says:

    I can see myself on both sides of the email correspondence. I still struggle to feel/be comfortable in my skin; yet I know in my soul that the Lord looks at the heart. He wants a heart for Him and his people and nothing less. The scale can’t measure the heart.

  6. Katie @ Peace Love & Oats says:

    I would have answered this similarly – why does she think God wants her to be 10 lbs lighter? God loves her, and all of us exactly how we are. I’ve come to peace with my own body recently, after ditching the scale and calorie counting. I try to remind myself every day that I am beautiful exactly how I am, and that there is SO MUCH MORE to life than our weight! Letting go of our weight isn’t about putting weight loss in God’s hands, it’s about loving ourselves the way that God loves us, and with that calmness and happiness a balance will emerge in our lives. Haha I’m still working on that balance and learning to focus on Him and the bigger things, but life is a journey!

  7. Melissa Macias says:

    Hi Lindsay!
    I just started reading your blog a few months ago and I love it! It is a hard balance of mixing fitness and faith. Not making fitness an idol is hard!

    But right after reading your post I had to listen to Matt Redman 10,000 Reasons! I mean bless the lord!

    And to your question :) Not in the bible not promised is my simple answer. But goodness what we are promised is awesome!

  8. Katie @ KatiEenPursuit says:

    Awesome! This ties back into your post last week with the “What If’s?”. I think there’s a huge element to just “letting things be”. We work so hard for some things we cannot or are not meant to change. Great reply on your part!

  9. Katie says:

    So well written, friend! And it doesn’t just go for body image, but FOR EVERYTHING in one’s life that is a source of dissatisfaction. Just focus on the heart. I love that.

  10. Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries says:

    I think your response was PERFECT. I don’t think that God has a specific number in mind when it comes to our weight or our body fat percentage AT ALL. Like you said, it’s where our heart is at, not where the numbers lie. I think getting caught up in the numbers is part of OUR minds consuming us… I think God could care less about that stuff. I think if it were up to God, scales wouldn’t even exist!

  11. Laura @ Mommy Run Fast says:

    Such a wise response, I couldn’t agree more. Pursuing a healthy, active lifestyle is important, but our culture’s obsession with body image is dangerous and scary. So glad you can be an encouragement to so many girls struggling.

  12. Becky Przy says:

    What a wonderful heartfelt response to her e-mail!

    I have never really thought of it as ‘the body God intended me to have’ but I am going to start using that phrase! It is so powerful!

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