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Body Image and the Gospel | Find Your True Beauty in Christ

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"My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water." Jeremiah 2:13.

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2

For you my sisters; the girl pushing food around the plate so no one will realize you aren't eating, and for you, the woman secretly bingeing, hoping the 'full' will fill the emptiness, I have been there right where you are. I have stood in front of the mirror not seeing the protruding bones outlined in sharp relief—seeing only 'skinny' instead of 'starving' or in dark colored clothing designed to camouflage the extra weight, lumps, and bumps—the fleshy flaws. I have been the yo-yo master, up and down the scale, numbers taunting or applauding.

According to Womenshealth.gov I have not struggled alone as it is estimated as many as 10 million women nationwide suffer from some type of eating disorder. Fat shaming body police speculate about possible baby bumps and provide ongoing commentary about the women who let themselves go post pregnancy if they have not emerged ready for snaps with a runway ready figure. Even royals are not immune as Kate Middleton discovered when she stepped out to offer a waiting public the first glimpse of the heir and was chided for her "mummy-tummy." Pressure to look a certain way in this air brushed, photo shopped world is enormous in a world that emphasizes an ideal where women don't age, are impossibly thin, and always happy. The truth is none of us has a perfect body, we all age, and I don't know anyone who exists in a perpetual state of euphoria naturally.

The tension created when we strain between the unnattainable world view; when we get caught up trying to walk the line the world deems acceptable; when we start believing the lies sold to us via the media—instead of seeing ourselves as image bearers of the One True Living God, is where the problems originate. When we allow it, the world clouds our ability to see Christ, obscuring and corrupting until our focus on Him is lost. We look to the world to fill our brokenness, pouring in the polluted water it's peddling, not realizing whatever positive feelings are generated are fleeting. The only way to overcome a negative or distorted body image is with eyes fixed on Jesus and a heart transformed by the Holy Spirit.

"In pursuing worldly beauty, we strive to become this elusive image in place of who we really are. You and I are created in the image of the living God. Our purpose is to reflect His image to the world. But since the fall, we let the world inscribe its image on us. It is the very picture of sin and ultimately death. Instead of being transformed to God's image, we conform to the world's image...But God in His mercy rescued us! In love, God sent Jesus Christ to take on the consequences of our idolatrous affair. He became sin so that we might become righteous. In Christ, God gives us freedom from sin's power now and hope for its eradication in heaven. God makes you beautiful with the beauty of His Son, Jesus. It is in gazing at God's image in Jesus Christ that you are transformed."

Heather David Nelson, 9 Things You Should Know About Female Body Image Issues

Adjusting focus from what is seen in the mirror or numbers on a scale, fixing eyes on Jesus as we remind ourselves to see our bodies as God sees them; "fearfully and wonderfully made" Psalm 139:14, daughters of the King whose "gloriousness is within" Psalm 45:13, created "in His own image" Genesis 1:27, will help us to cultivate a Biblical body image rooted in the joy of the Cross. We are all tempted to be our own masters, justifying ourselves apart from Christ. It's only when faced with the eventuality and inevitability of failure that we realize relying on self sufficiency rather than God's grace will never bring about true and lasting changes. Fill yourself with Living Water and conform yourselves to the Lord's will.

The following articles offer encouragement:

"The Weight That So Easily Entangles," Lindsey Carlson for The Gospel Coalition

"An Open Letter to My Friends Struggling with Eating Disorders," Emily Wierenga for Desiring God

"Dear Women & Daughters: When You’re Tired of Media Voices Telling You What Beauty & Love Is," Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience