I’ve spent the past few months thinking about the importance of renewing my mind. I’ve learned that it’s not always easy, and it’s really a daily practice. I’ve found that this practice comes easier when I intentionally take advantage of opportunities to pause in awe of what God has done, both in my life and in His creation. But one area where it’s difficult for me to experience the awe of God’s creation is my physical body. It’s a challenge, and if my hunch is correct, that’s probably true for you too.
My struggle with body image began at an early age. As I made my way through adolescence and into adulthood, it slowly became the baggage I carried into every social event and every relationship. By the time I got married, that baggage had outgrown the suitcase I was carrying it in and rooted itself deep in my heart and mind. As this struggle took up permanent residency in our happily ever after, it exercised even greater influence in areas it should never have authority over in the first place. And it stayed there until I slowly started working towards a better view of myself in recent years.
One of the catalysts for this much-needed shift was Jess Connolly’s book Breaking Free from Body Shame. In it, she asks some confrontational questions. Two that resonated with me were “What in the world are we getting our bodies ready for?” and “When will we ever be enough?”
Depending on your stage of life, many things will influence your answers to these questions. Maybe you are trying to get your body “back” after having a baby. Or your child is getting married, and you’re trying to look your very best. Or maybe you feel an unspoken urgency pushing you toward keeping yourself in tiptop shape. It’s possible you don’t know how to answer these questions, and if that’s you, it’s okay; I didn’t either when I first read them. The only thing I did know was that they warranted thought and an eventual answer.
Before we continue, I know this topic is complex. Everyone experiences it differently. You may not want to reflect on this or even be able to because of the situation surrounding you, and for that, I am sorry, and I understand. My goal here is not to bring up wounds but to offer a gentle nudge to take the first step towards seeing yourself differently and slowly appreciating who you are.
Throughout her book, Connolly weaves in the idea that we all view ourselves through some lens or filter. We didn’t create this filter, but it becomes the lens through which we view ourselves. Connolly calls the process for this misnaming, where we are led to believe something about ourselves that is not true. It’s often subtle, and it always comes at the hands of someone who has no authority to do so.
For me, someone in my past made a comment that I carried with me for the better part of my life. Did this person mean to hurt me in a way that would significantly impact how I viewed myself? I don’t think so; I don’t think they knew any better. Have I forgiven them and moved on? Yes. But moving on is part of the daily renewing of my mind, and I’ll be honest, some days are better than others.
But think about this, if we weren’t responsible for creating our lens, for our initial misnaming, then just like anything that someone tries to give us, we have the power to either receive it or decline it. We have a choice. This idea was freeing for me, and while I chose to believe my lens and accept that misnaming for almost forty years, now I choose to reevaluate that lens daily against what I know to be true from the One who made me.
In gathering the resources below to accompany this topic, we hope to help you simply take the first step. This is not a one-and-done process. It will take time and truth to define the new lens through which you begin to see your whole self as enough.
In Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit, God finds them and asks, “Who told you that you were naked?” Like Eve, we are tempted daily to believe Satan’s lies. Some of the easiest lies to believe can be the most damaging. Think about a lie you believe about your body and then journal your answer to the question, “Who told you and what authority do they have over your life?” As you unpack the lie and how it’s impacted you, think about ways you can begin to break free from the hold it has on you.
Heavenly Father, Scripture tells me that not only did You create me in Your image, but You did so with intention and purpose. Help me to remember those truths even on my hardest days. Amen.
You were made for more than a love/hate relationship with your body. It’s one thing to know in your head that you were created in the image of God. But it’s quite another to experience this belief in your body against the cultural ideals of a woman’s worth. In Breaking Free from Body Shame, Jess Connolly takes you on a journey that most women want to go on but no one wants to talk about.
Jennie Allen hosts Jess Connolly for an in-depth and real conversation about how women view their bodies. It’s full of grace and truth and is exactly the information you need to start moving you into a healthier mindset when it comes to your body. This is a great episode to listen to while reading Breaking Free from Body Shame.
Jamie Ivey sits down with registered dietician Isabel Garza for an informative conversation around how women view food, disordered eating, and women’s hormones. It’s an episode packed with eye-opening insight into how our culture has shaped the lens we view these topics through. Have pen and paper ready, you will want to remember what they say!
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