May 142013
 

I often find myself wondering when my body image struggle and insecurities will go away?  When will I have complete and final victory over them?

Last week I shared about a negative comment I made about myself and my being pregnant, which led me to examining the true contents of my heart.

I’m thankful for opportunities to examine my heart because it teaches me and prepares me for the next challenge.

And my next challenge came quickly.

To be brutally honest, our recent move to Southern California has exacerbated my body image struggle all the more.

I remember when I came down here for college.  I was blindsided by the fact I could experience culture shock just one state away.

I’ll never forget standing in line at Starbucks, just after I’d arrived for my first semester, and overhearing two women discussing their breast implants.  Of course, I had read the gossipy magazines and seen the entertainment shows on TV, but to be bombarded with those realities in day to day life was something completely different for me.  I was used to women discussing their running times or what kinds of natural remedies they were using.

During my college years, I confronted a lot of these body image issues, grew and even healed despite the culture.

Moving back down here has not brought the same culture shock as before, but you can believe it has already challenged me and tested my roots.

Of course there are countless aspects I absolutely adore about Southern California.  I love the sun, beaches, outdoor lifestyle, flowers and adventures possible around every corner.  But the in-your-face body image stuff – the showing of more skin, body enhancements and pressure to be thin – are all things that have a tendency to shake me.

This struggle of mine has often reminded me of Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).  He was never rid of it, always had to bare it, and trust the Lord with it.  And he was used greatly by God in spite of it.

As I ponder how I can relate, I wonder if it also could have been because of his thorn in the flesh that Paul was such an amazing vessel for the Lord?  This thorn made him keep coming back to Christ for strength, truth and hope.  He couldn’t do it alone.  By his being dependent on Christ, it allowed for Christ’s power to be shown through him.

Could my complete dependence on the Lord in this area be proving the power of God in my life in the same way?

I could easily do without struggling with body image.  I’ve been known to pray over and over for the Lord to just take this struggle away, for Him to make me strong, confident and carefree.

But I’m thankful the Lord is giving me His perspective.  This struggle is actually the very thing that keeps me fully reliant on the Lord.  This “thorn in my flesh” is not a battle I can win on my own.  I need the Lord’s strength to not crumble under the voices of defeat.  I need His love to pour over me.  I need His truth to speak loudly over the lies.  I need Him to fill me with true hope.  I need Him to turn my weakness into strength.

Over and over again.

Is there a struggle in your life you’ve often wished or prayed away?  Could it be possible that Christ’s power is being shown in your life through your struggle, as it keeps you dependent on Him?

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Jan 092013
 

“I Praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful and I know that full well” Psalm 139:14

As I was mulling over what I should write about for this week, this scripture kept repeating in my mind. I am fearfully and wonderfully made… I am wonderfully made, really?

But what about the extra inches and pounds that linger after baby number two? What about the gray hairs that keep appearing? Or that I always seem to fail or disappoint someone?

There is an enormous amount of pressure put on women. To be excellent wives, mothers, friends, cooks, housekeepers, etc AND on top of all that you are suppose to eat well and be thin.

This time of year is marked by New Year’s Resolutions. This will be the year that I will loose weight, eat better, workout more, get more done and on and on…  Have you noticed that most of the ads are focused towards weight loss, redecorating or being more organized?

The other night as I walked through the grocery store I noticed fitness and diet book displays, fitness equipment was on sale and there were storage tubs galore.  The ad on the loud speaker was saying “try the full plate diet, everything you need is right in the store and in just a few weeks, you’ll be a new you, wearing a new wardrobe!” The commercial made it sound so simple and easy, lose weight then you will be a better person and everything will be great!

My thought was, “it isn’t that easy for some and what if you don’t have money for new a wardrobe? And do I need to become a new person?”

We are hearing the message that our value is based on our outward appearance.  Our success as a person is placed on how organized our lives (houses) are.

We are comparing ourselves to unrealistic ideals.

The women in ads are airbrushed and the photos are perfected. The houses in the ads aren’t even real, no one lives there!  There is nothing wrong with working towards a healthier lifestyle or a more orderly home.

But if we believe the messages of the world, we will never measure up.

Instead of turning to the cultures’ standard for beauty I encourage you to view yourself as God views you.

Yes, easier said than done!

You are special, you have been created in God’s image and you are beautifully made!

This may be hard to accept.  It is for me, I have struggled with body issues and self-worth my entire life.

1 Samuel 16:7 reads “…The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”.

Let that be our standard of beauty.

The Lord loves you and created you just as He wants you to be. Having a heart for the Lord is beauty.

How can you avoid our culture’s trap of what it means to be beautiful and successful?

What can you do on a daily basis to have a heart (and mind) for the Lord?

Photo Credit – Sign and Image created by Love and Leftovers

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Nov 272012
 

Four years ago I thought my life was over.

My husband and I had been married for nine months.  I was finishing my third year in my dietetic program.  And I was pregnant.  The news hit me like a freight train.  I spent the first six months of my pregnancy just trying to accept and make room in my heart for our baby.

I mourned all the newlywed things we wouldn’t get to do: travel, go to concerts, go to restaurants at ten o’ clock at night.  I was also convinced I would lose any resemblance of looking pretty forever.

But here was the major fear that crippled me: I wasn’t actively living out my past eating disorder, but I knew deep inside my mind that I was far from healthy.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  Psalm 73:26

I chose to desperately pour out my heart to God.  Telling Him my fears, my anger, my inadequacies, and trusting Him to heal me became my reality.  Part of God’s provision for me during this time was to go back to my therapist during my pregnancy.

Little did I realize the beautiful gift God had in store for me.

“Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see – how good God is.  Blessed are you who run to Him.”  Psalm 34:8

Not only has my little girl brought me so much joy, love, and laughter… God has also brought an immeasurable amount of healing to me because of her life.

It’s an incredible comparison: how we love and view our children is a glimpse of how God loves and views us as His children.

Since my daughter Harper was born, God has brought this comparison to mind daily.  It has challenged me in the way I view myself, the way I speak of myself and the outpouring actions stemming from those beliefs.

On so many occasions, I have looked at myself in the mirror as I get ready, noticing my stretch marks, my circles under my eyes, my less-than-Victoria Secret-like breasts… and then in walks Harper.  Looking up to me.  Emulating my every move and attitude.

And I am caught dead in my tracks.

It is only a matter of time until my daughter will see through this facade.  One day she will see how my glance in the mirror is one full of self-hatred rather than self-acceptance, judgement rather than grace, the world’s standards rather than God’s.

How can I help my daughter see herself the way God sees her, if I can not even see myself through His light?

I’ve cried over this question.  Prayed over it.  Been desperate over it.

God has made me see my need for new eyes.  And He has given me a beautiful new perspective.

  • When I think, speak or act out something about myself that reflects self-judgement, self-hatred or what the world says I should be…  God reminds me of Harper.
  • I ask myself: how would I feel, as her mother, if I heard Harper say this about herself or do this to herself?
  • For example: If I find myself focusing on what I think is an imperfection in myself – something I might close my eyes and shake my head at or think “I don’t like that.  I’m not good enough”…  I then imagine if I observed Harper doing or saying the same thing about something she didn’t like about her body.
  • I’ll tell you the truth: there has never been one time, when picturing Harper treating herself the same way I treat myself, that my heart wasn’t absolutely broken and crushed.

THIS is what God has given me.  A perspective to see how His heart breaks over His daughters rejecting, criticizing and wishing away exactly who He has created them to be.

I invite you to try thinking of your daughter (or another little one) the next time you think, say or do something negatively towards yourself.  Would you act in the same way towards yourself if she were watching or emulating you?  Through this, did you get a glimpse of how God sees you?

Meditate on this verse today:

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”  Psalm 139:13 & 14

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Nov 202012
 

My mirror was my world.

I used to hate admitting this, but it was true.  Each and every morning, my mirror dictated the pulse of my day.  Amidst my complete self focus, each day was void of joy and contentment.  I noticed every. single. imperfection: I didn’t like my moles, my squinty eyes, or my cellulite and I loathed my veiny legs.  I etched in my mind everything I lacked.  I was too short, had shoulders too wide and I had thumper feet.  I left no room in my heart for thankfulness or room to embrace my Creator’s perspective.

I know we’ve all been there.  We wish we could lose a few pounds, tone up a bit, get rid of those love handles, find that stylish hair cut, erase the dark circles under our eyes and not look so tired.

But how do we change eyes that only see what’s missing, what’s negative (according to the world’s standards)… to eyes that see through His light, through His love?

God has been pouring it into me since the day I chose healing: it’s not about my looks or my status.  It’s not about what my eyes see… but about how my eyes see.  And seeing clearly starts with my heart.

But there are still mornings, as I get myself ready, I just want to give up.  When will this stop being a battle for me?

“A message from the high and towering God, who lives in Eternity, whose name is Holy: “I live in the high and holy places, but also with the low-spirited, the spirit-crushed, And what I do is put new spirit in them, get them up and on their feet again.”  Isaiah 57:15 (The Message)

God has been faithful to me through this struggle.  And He will be faithful to you as well.

God’s healing of our heart and mind has to come through replacing our own beliefs with His truth.  His truth enters our heart through reading His Word.

“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.  For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal”.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18

His healing also comes when we pour our hearts out to Him through prayer.  No matter how shattered or complicated they are.  No matter how far our eyes are from His perspective.  When we lay our struggle and our incapability to see differently out there… He is able to begin transforming us.

God, I need to see me through Your eyes today… through Your love.  I feel so broken when it comes to having Your perspective on who you’ve made me to be.  Help me to let go of the exterior me.  Help me to see it’s about my heart.  Would you renew me?  Renew my eyes.  Renew my heart.  My hope in You, Lord.  Amen.

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Oct 022012
 

Ok.  Here it goes. (deep breath). I am taking down the guard and bearing my soul. 

As I have been spending the past weeks and months thinking about, recording and writing my life experiences, struggles, joys and pains – especially in the areas of food and body image – I have become completely undone.

Undone because I feel inadequate.  Undone because I am not the expert.  Undone because this topic of body image has been the cause of deep hurt, heartache and scaring in my life.

It is a continuous struggle for me to not give into the lie that tells me I’m not good enough.  This lie creates insurmountable fear inside of me.  It begs me to not be vulnerable and to believe I have to be perfectall the time.

But I have been learning over the past months.  To write and truly encourage others in the process, requires two things:

  • Vulnerability – It literally means to be “exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally”.  Being vulnerable requires exposure. Without vulnerability, depth is lost and we are left with a hard, untouchable exterior.
    • The positive: We have the ability to bring down others guards.  We allow others to connect in and find similarities.
    • The Negative: We are exposed!  We risk the possibility of criticism or rejection.
  • Not Being Perfect – As much as we wish it, none of us are perfect.  We have struggles.  We have shortcomings.  And we want to know we are not alone in our mess.  Not being perfect goes hand in hand with vulnerability.
    • The Positive: Our quirks or flaws can allow others to be real and embrace their imperfections as well.  It can also show us our need for others.
    • The Negative: We don’t get to hide behind our facade of having it all together anymore.

These two things go against our very core as human beings.  We want to protect ourselves.  We want to maintain a controlled image.  I am desperately afraid to “put myself out there”.  The need to be perfect has been woven into me… and admittedly, I care about others’ opinions of me.

In order to write, every day, I must be in prayer.  I must be ready to sweep out the cobwebs of past lies I have believed about myself.  As I ran today, I prayed, with desperation, that the Lord would calm my fears.  He brought to mind these two verses.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10,

“But he (the Lord) said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’

  • The mere thought of sharing my heart and my journey with you causes me to feel insufficient, weak, and insecure.  This is an entirely new journey for me, but one that I know is worth treading.  You will see my weaknesses… and it is my prayer you will see Christ’s power and grace as well.

1 John 4:18-19,

“There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear…”

  • Because Jesus loves me with His perfect love… I do not have to be afraid.  He frees me up to be me, just me.  I can love every. single. person He puts in front of me, near me or beside me… all because He has loved me first… with His perfect love.

I hope you will join me on this journey of not living in fear, of being vulnerable and not being perfect.   I hope you will see a piece of yourself somewhere on these pages.

Have you ever had to do something that left you feeling vulnerable or exposed your imperfections?

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© 2012 Standing on Peace

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