I’ve had body image issues for as long as I can remember. I can’t tell you the last time I looked at a picture of myself and did not automatically think something negative about the image of myself. I hit puberty before most girls my age and always felt like the odd one out with a curvier figure and thicker legs than my peers. I wanted to be thinner and stronger and just like everyone else. While I’ve always been a healthy individual, I have never believed that my body was good enough as it was.
When I moved to Pennsylvania, I started lifting with the trainer at my school and for the first time in my life, I actually liked my body. My bigger legs and curvy frame allowed me to feel powerful and strong and as my muscle definition grew, so did my confidence. I began to discover “fitness trainers” on Instagram who were “body positive” and sort of looked like me. I was excited to embrace the body God had given me because of my newfound love for lifting. Alas, this perspective was warped, as I began to compare myself to a different type of body ideal that was just as unattainable.
And then I injured my shoulder and lifting was out of the question. Since then, I have spent the last four years in a never ending cycle of trying to get my body back to what it was when I was lifting and then hating it for what it could not do. I could not be a thin girl without belly rolls and I could not be the confident and powerful girl with defined biceps. Spring break would roll around and then summer and the crash dieting and the frantic gym runs never cut it. My constant striving was not sustainable and I hated my body more every time I failed.
In January, my boyfriend and I got into a really great workout routine at school. We kept each other accountable and had a lot of fun in the process. By this point, I was fully cleared by my doctor to start lifting again and that powerful confidence started to come back. And then the coronavirus hit and the gyms closed and the closest thing I had to any sort of weight to lift was my laundry detergent. I went on walks as regularly as I could and tried to do little home workouts in my room, but I could feel my confidence spiraling downwards as the weeks went on.
I have been back in Pennsylvania for a week and a half now and my little brother has a weight machine, so we’ve been lifting almost every day. I can feel the powerful confidence start to creep its way back in. And so this never ending, all consuming, and always disappointing cycle begins again and the question of “will my body ever be enough?” stays at the forefront of my brain.
Will I ever love my body?
Will I ever appreciate what I can do with my body?
Will I ever be grateful for the way that God designed my body for exactly what I need?
Will I ever recognize that my imperfections are part of what make me me?
Will I ever choose to define myself by something other than the size of my waist, the flatness of my stomach, or the way I look in pictures?
Growing up in the church and in a Christian family, I have learned a lot about who I am, what I should put my identity in, and why I should understand that the body I have been given is more than enough.
I know that I am chosen, holy, and dearly loved (Colossians 3:12) and that before I was born, I was known and set apart (Galatians 1:5). I know that I was knit delicately and intentionally in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13) and that I am God’s workmanship, created to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). I know that I am a child of God (John 1:12) and made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26).
I know these things to be true, but where I am at fault is in how I choose to interpret them. In my warped, sinful nature, I make the Gospel about me. I make the Bible about me. I make all the truths I have listed above about me.
The Gospel is not about me. The Gospel is about Jesus. The Bible is not about me. The Bible is about the compassionate life that Jesus lived and the sacrificial death that Jesus died.
The truth, when it is Jesus-centered instead of me-centered, is that He calls me chosen, holy, and dearly loved by him. Jesus knows me and sets me apart because He is all knowing. Jesus is the one who gave me life and knit me in my mother’s womb. He has declared me a workmanship created to do good works, because he is the Creator and Giver of life. God calls me his child because I have put my faith in Him. From the very beginning, all of mankind was made in the image of God, because he said so. And it was very good.
As I write this post, I do not sit here as a whole and healed individual by any stretch of the imagination. Truthfully, the conclusion of this post was interrupted by a tearful conversation with my momma about the emotional and physical wear and tear I endured during my three years of college and how my body image struggles reflect that.
The road ahead of me is a long one and the act of reframing my thinking is a daily choice that only I can make for myself. While Chloe Ting might claim she can get me abs in 2 weeks (her workouts are dang hard so this could be possible), I know that a change like that won’t fix my thinking. I have the life I have because of Jesus. I have a beautiful, strong, capable body that Jesus has given me. I can either choose to love this vessel I have been given to do His work and serve others or continue to live in an endless cycle of despair and self hate.
One of those options glorifies God and the other option sits in self-centeredness and defeat.
I choose the former.