For as long as I can remember I’ve struggled with body image. It wasn’t a struggle on the scale as much as a struggle with the image in the mirror. I felt the expectations from my family to look a certain way not because they wanted me to look different but rather they told me what I was and I didn’t agree.
They used words like “skinny,” “small,” “little” though I rarely felt like it. Of course when you are given a standard, you compare yourself to it. My sister was mine. My body was always put next to hers to compare and so I did the same thing, but I always measured differently.
In my mind I always came up short. I measured in a way to dispute the words given to me feeling as if I didn’t not deserve them, though I desperately wanted them. As I got older I started measuring my body against other bodies really only looking for those that I was bigger than to confirm the way I felt, “not skinny, not small, not little,” all the while longing to be.
I adopted unhealthy habits like not eating, sucking in my stomach, hiding my body with clothes while trying to accent other aspects. I desperately wanted to be what other people thought I was and I wanted to see myself that way too.
This ideal, perfect, impossible body was created in my head and measured against everyday as I looked in the mirror. I always fell short. Perfection is a revolving door with no final destination.
As I’ve grown I’ve gained some confidence but to be honest I still struggle with the picture in the mirror. My understanding of beauty is so greatly tied to my body and the “ideal” that I often feel ugly, undeserving, imperfect and disgusting. As the number on the scale has changed and I find myself getting thicker I feel almost desperate.
I look at myself and see all of the things I want to change, that need to change. Most days I try to avoid the mirror at all costs or at least not look at “that area.” I desperately want to believe that if I could get “there,” that I would feel different, that life would be better and that becomes my goal.
My body is an idol.
It’s something I put before God.
It’s something I want with all my heart.
It’s something I can’t stop thinking of.
It’s something I’m seeking to define me, to make me worthy, beautiful, to gain glory and if I’m being honest even adoration.
Your body is a terrible god, a terrible tool with which to measure your worth, your beauty, even to gain adoration. It’s always changing, never constant and sure to fail you. Gravity always wins. Age is inevitable.
As the years add up my body is changing, still I long for the words I was given in youth (that I never believed). My body will never deliver. If I seek what can only be given by God I will never have rest.
My identity, my worth, my beauty, my glory and adoration can only ever be found in God. He is author of all creation, the writer of my story, the pursuer of my heart. Our body is slowly declining, dying with age but our heart, our heart is everlasting.
Our body is a temple and should be treated with respect and dignity. But it is not the object of our worship but the place in which we worship. Our worship, our heart, our thoughts, our body need to be given to God. I don’t need to look a certain way because I am loved all the way by the God of the Universe and to love and be loved is enough.