When first starting this post, I wasn’t sure which blog to post it in. One of my blogs usually is pretty spiritually focused and the other is focused on physical activity and healthy lifestyle choices. This entry could apply to either one… but since our faith, walk with God, convictions, etc. should be integrated through every single area and crevice of our lives…. I’m going to post it in the latter.
As the cold weather is on its way out and the temperatures are rising… what are women doing? Looking at that bikini or summer clothing, wondering how they are going to get “there” from where they are now? We all know that in America, women are pushed to reach an unrealistic standard- one that most of the women in the pictures who seem to have reached that standard, have had photo edits and touch-ups to make them look how we see them (Imagine how that is going to help a person’s self-image issues). As Christians, we know that what we look like is not what makes us who we are. We “know” that people are beautiful not because they are a size 2 or because they look like someone in a magazine… and yet how many of us allow unhealthy and unbiblical thoughts to enter into our minds about our bodies, our identities, etc.
It’s my guess that most of us as Christian women could probably all give similar speeches about living healthy and taking care of ourselves (instead of either being lazy and not doing anything to take care of ourselves or being obsessive and taking up unhealthy attitudes, or ways of looking how we want to look). The sad thing is that we maybe could give these speeches and we “know” these things… and yet so often we haven’t really surrendered that false and worldly view. So many are still holding tight to this message, so tight that it may seem that it is just a part of who we are or our personalities or priorities- instead of a dark and clever control in our lives.
I’m really proud to say that I know several women who strive to live healthy lives. Everyone has things about themselves that they wish they could change- if we could photo-shop the way we look every day, I’m sure we would all change something. But I’m fortunate to know many women who don’t allow these thoughts to get out of hand and they truly do take them captive; “…we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5b). I’m also really glad to see more and more people teaching healthy lifestyles, both in the Christian world and secular. It’s great to see educational programs teaching kids at an early age to eat healthy and be active and to see parenting classes focused in that direction.
The other messages are still being communicated though, as strong as ever. What makes me really sad is that I look around me and I see so many women who are so affected by the messages that are put out by the world. Again, being healthy should be a priority, so don’t take this the wrong way. I’m not saying to keep sitting on the couch every day, remaining stagnant and eating that bag of potato chips. What I am saying is that it’s all about a balance. How in the world can you live your life when you are so focused on what you look like? How in the world can you claim your identity in Christ, if you cannot get past the identity you have given yourself based on what you look like and every single physical “flaw” you find? What sort of example do you think you are being to a younger generation of girls who are struggling more than ever before with self-image and identity issues? People are watching you.
It’s just such a vicious cycle. We can’t help others until we help ourselves. We can’t expect to be able to continue living with all the weeds in our lives that are choking us and still proclaim a good message and represent something holy and pure.
“… do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4b)
We are all going to have struggles and it’s likely that if you are a woman, you will always have some sort of struggle in this area. If not, consider yourself lucky. Thankfully, it’s not our struggles or lack of struggles that separate us from the world, but what we do with those struggles.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2
This post isn’t to make you feel bad about thoughts that you feel are out of your control… but to challenge you to consider whether they are thoughts you should allow to take up space in your life? And maybe it has always and will always be a struggle in your life… maybe that is one of your thorns in life. That isn’t a reason to let it control any piece of you. You are created by the only and most high God; you are made pure and holy through Him. If it’s a problem that’s bigger than you can handle on your own, include some other Christ following women in your struggle with you. Get some accountability. If it’s creating self-loathing or other deeply rooted or destructive feelings in you, maybe you should consider talking to a counselor about it. It’s not weak to deal with your issues, it’s weaker to not deal with them. We are in this process of sanctification throughout our entire lives while in this world… we need one another in that process too. Don’t remain stagnant or accept something in your heart, mind or life that isn’t of God.