finding peace in your body image and faith

The relationship we have with our bodies is constantly changing. Perhaps the one consistent thing in it is how we can incorporate body image and faith together.
It’s surprising to think how similar our body image and faith are. They both try to be physical entities we can justify and prove to the world, and yet they remain personal. Shrouded in our own interpretations.

For me, body image and faith haven’t been as consistent as they should be. One minute I feel good about myself and strong with God. The next, I’m floundering off alone and critiquing every flaw I see.
By taking on body image and faith in a single stride, we can grow stronger in each. Their similarities intertwine to create a better understanding of who we are and what’s really important. Let the Bible and personal experience guide the way toward a more peaceful mind, body, and spirit.

goodbye, bad vibes.

Those thoughts we have degrading our body image? There’s a reason we call them demons. Hence why body image and faith can correspond so well.
Trust me, I’ve been there. I am there on what feels like a daily basis. You don’t even have to be in eating disorder recovery to empathize. For many, it’s an internal dialogue on repeat. Even with doing “all the right things,” like positive mantras, it still doesn’t silence the beast.
The fact is, we cannot change our thoughts. We cannot willfully change every conversation playing in our brain. What we can do is give power and attention to thoughts that matter.
Here’s where faith comes in. When we prioritize God and His Word, we can work toward making that louder than the other junk. He knows the truth beyond our distorted perceptions. Let Him take the lead.
Psalm 23 is an amazing reminder of this. “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul….Even thought I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (verses 1-2, 4)
Start trying to form habits that align with this intention of body image and faith. Devote more time to Him and less time in the mirror. When you get caught up in negative self-talk, slow down and take a step back. Recognize thoughts as thoughts, not reality, and then turn the spotlight toward Him.

“look at every flaw.”

If I tell you to pick out a “trouble area” on your body, it’d take not even a second. If I ask what you’re grateful for on your body, or your favorite feature…probably a while longer.
God knitted us to unique creations, each one similar and yet so different. We’re beautifully and wonderfully made in His image. We originally came from a pile of dust…until He breathed life into our nostrils (from Genesis 2:7). How amazing is that?
The only perfect people out there aren’t of this earthly realm. God is the ultimate example of perfection, and humans will never match it. No Photoshop or crazy dieting fads will help. All we can do is accept ourselves as is, “flaws” and all, and know that God made us exactly as we should be. He took the time to design us each with a unique purpose. He makes no mistakes.
Also acknowledge that our bodies aren’t stagnant. We aren’t going to remain the same size and shape forever. We so desperately seek that control, but life and nature hold the reins. Weight gain, weight loss, stretch marks, clothing sizes, wrinkles, blemishes, scars…it’s a huge roller coaster. Prepare for a bumpy ride.
But through everything, God is consistent. He never changes. He’s that firm foundation we need when everything changes around and within us. Utilize Him as a resource of stability. Isaiah 26:4 says, “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord Himself, is the Rock eternal.” He wants you to come to Him, so please do!

accept bad days.

Not every day will be successful in your body image and faith. Just because you’ll put in the extra effort doesn’t mean you’ll reap immediate benefits.
The Lord teaches us to be patient and know His timing often doesn’t match our own. As the saying goes, good things come to those who wait. And if our intentions are favorable to Him, He will provide. Psalm 18:36 says, “You [the Lord] provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.”
Don’t let a bad body image day completely deter your progress. When in doubt, turn to God and pray on it. Give Him your doubts and insecurities. There’s nothing He cannot handle. Let His presence comfort you. He has equipped you with the strength you need to continue striving toward your goal for yourself and in Him.
Another powerful tool is gratitude. God has granted us innumerable blessings. In the thick of a bad body image day, we’re likely stuck in our own heads so much, we fail to look outward and appreciate everything. Point the good things out and give thanks. There’s far more good in this world than bad.

encourage others, too.

You don’t have to address body image and faith alone, nor should you. This is a problem far beyond your own experiences.
We’ve adopted a very superficial definition of beauty. We all must look exactly the same way, with the same figure, the right number of curves, and the exact number on the scale. Is that not a tad ridiculous sounding?
I see so often how, when we talk amongst one another, we can end up fueling further negative self-talk. We relate in our insecurities. Don’t get me wrong, establishing a strong body image and faith is hard work, but make that the focus of conversation, not mutual hate of our earthly vessels.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Rather than acknowledging you share bad body image, uplift others by complimenting clear attributes and strengths. Emphasize the insignificance of numbers and media portrayals. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matt. 5:9) Your worth is far greater than your appearance.
While a journey toward a healthy body image and faith is immensely difficult, it’s a journey worth taking. You are far too valuable and precious in this world and to God to not realize that yourself. We’re in this together. I believe in us, and He believes in us.
Have you before associated body image and faith? What words of encouragement do you have for others? Share your lovely thoughts and suggestions in the comments, and share this post with whoever may need to hear its message.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie
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