being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus
Category Archives: Body Image
This post is a response to the Never Beyond poster series from People of the Second Chance. The question: Who would you forgive?
All week I’ve been posting on Grace, Forgiveness, and Second Chances.
If I had two personalities, I’m sure that one would be named Judgmental Jackie and the other would be named Martha the False Martyr.
Here’s a conversation the two women would have regularly:
JJ: Wow Martha, you sure slept in late today. Do you plan on even doing anything today?
MM: You’re right. I stayed up too late last night. The day’s almost over. I might as well go back to bed.
JJ: You know, I have this friend who has ten children. She gets up at 5, nurses her baby, gets breakfast going, has her children ready to go by six. Then they all have devotions at the kitchen table before sitting down to a five-course breakfast. She also homeschools and all her children play at least three instruments. They’re very intelligent. The three oldest ones are spelling bee champions. I think she only cooks whole foods, in fact, I’m sure she does. Her children are all so well-behaved, polite and responsible. She and her husband have the perfect marriage. They never argue and they’re so happy. Even though she’s had ten children, she still looks as fit and young as she did on the day she graduated from high school. I think she’s working on writing her third novel too. She’s amazing. You could never be like her.
MM: You’re right. I’m a terrible mother, a terrible wife, and just an all around terrible person.
JJ: You know what you need? More prayer time. More devotion time. More Bible study. I’m pretty sure that you aren’t doing all you can to be closer to God. You’d better work on that. I have a friend who is a missionary overseas and she cares for orphans. She’s pretty amazing. You could never be like her.
MM: You’re right. I’m a terrible Christian. I could try and try and try and I’ll never be as good as your overseas missionary friend.
JJ: You know what else? Your house is a wreck. Why can’t you keep it clean? It’s amazing that you can get anything done in this house. You need a schedule. You need to clean more.
MM: I am a pig. An awful, terrible, no good, can’t do anything right pig.
JJ: There’s something else I’ve noticed about you Martha. You have a lot of anger. You yell a lot. You aren’t patient. When you do yell, you are very, very mean. You’re also very ungrateful. Don’t you know that people would kill to have what you have? But you’re just so angry all the time.
MM: I’m a terrible, terrible human being.
JJ: And you remember how you were such a terrible friend to that one girl when you were in middle school? You were so mean to her! You talked behind her back. You made fun of her to other people. You pretty much ruined her life. Even though you haven’t talked to her in years, you probably made her lose faith in all humanity and are the reason why she can’t have healthy friendships.
MM: Wow. I didn’t even think about how badly I might have hurt her. How can anyone even like me? I can’t believe that anyone is even my friend.
JJ: I’m pretty sure you’re the worst person ever.
MM: I’m pretty sure you’re right.
All day long, Judgmental Jackie would verbally quarterback sack Martha the False Martyr.
All day long, Martha the False Martyr would believe it all, take it to heart, and fall into a very deep depression because she was such a terrible, weak, unloved, ugly human being.
Do you ever tell yourself your own set of lies? Do you find yourself believing those lies?
I have hated myself more than anyone else ever could.
I have disappointed myself in so many ways. I haven’t lived up to the unattainable perfection I’ve expected of myself. I accuse myself almost every day of not being smart enough or good enough or Christian enough or diligent enough or whatever enough.
I am the accused. I am my own judge, jury, bailiff, and prosecutor. Every day, I’m on trial.
And every day, I give myself the same sentence, “GUILTY!”
Guilty of pride. Guilty of anger. Guilty of disbelief. Guilty of lust. Guilty of hatred. Guilty of doing what I shouldn’t and not doing what I should. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.
At the end of every trial I throw myself into the cell of false rehabilitation in the prison of if you just try harder.
But my verdict doesn’t matter.
Because forever and always I wear a crown on my head that says, “NOT GUILTY!” And underneath it says, “Debt is Paid In Full”.
By my standards I am an utter failure. A mess. Unforgivable.
By God’s standards I am loved. I am chosen. I am Forgiven.
I have to stop living in my self-made prison of lies and accusations.
I have to believe what God says about me, not what I say about me.
I have to believe that I am never beyond his extension of grace, that I am never beyond his healing touch, that I am never beyond his using me to glorify himself.
I have to forgive myself for being human. Because He has.
He’s paid for my fallen humanity.
He’s paid for yours too.
There are two women in my head.
There’s the Woman-I-Think-I-Want-To-Be and there’s the Woman-I-Think-I-Am.
Sometimes, I feel them warring inside of me, the Woman-I-Think-I-Want-To-Be wagging her finger at me wondering where I am and why I haven’t caught up to her yet. The Woman-I-Think-I-Am sticks out her tongue, shrugs her shoulders, throws her hands up in disgust and storms out of the room (sometimes giving the Woman-I-Think-I-Want-To-Be the finger).
However, the Woman-That-I-Really-Am, she’s stuck somewhere in the middle.
These two women in my head are why I have spurts of energy in which I can conquer 15 loads of laundry in one day, but it never all gets put away. Or why I post several times in one week, and then go a couple without posting. Or why my kids have days where they tell me over and over that I’m the best cook/teacher/mom in the whole world, and others when they go to the opposite part of the house and play instead of wanting to work/play alongside me. Or why I stay up until 2 a.m. every night because it’s the only time I feel a small grip on sanity.
They (the two women in my head) are why I have weeks like this one, when I ask myself, “What the heck happened to the girl I was and when is she going to come back?”
But I know the answer. She’s not coming back. Too much has happened. Too much has changed.
That girl, the one who had aspirations (though looking back on it, I don’t know that they were ever my own), the one who had passion, the one who thought she might could change her small corner of the world, she no longer exists.
That girl, who stood almost eleven years ago on a large field outside of Memphis with thousands of other college students, who cried out to God, “Whatever it is you want, whatever you desire from me, wherever you want me to go, whatever you want me to do, I will Lord. Make me your hands and your feet. I am your vessel. Fill me up. Pour me out. I give you my life.” I wonder what happened to her.
And even as I type this, I find it silly. I find it silly to think that she disappeared. She didn’t. She just grew up. That girl had barely gotten her toes wet in the pool of life. Then when she dove in from the high dive, and the deep end felt too deep and she spent so much time trying to keep her head above water, gasping for air, she forgot that the life preserver is always within reach.
She failed to see that he has indeed answered that prayer cried out from a heart raw with promise.
Woman-That-I-Really-Am, don’t you remember where he’s taken you? Don’t you know why he’s taken you there?
For his glory.
Oh Woman-I-Think-I-Want-To-Be, you’ll never exist. And that is quite, quite alright.
Woman-That-I-Really-Am, you are so forgetful. You may have walked through the valley of the shadow of death. But he HAS taken you to green pastures and beside still waters. He HAS restored your soul. For HIS name’s sake.
His blessing are new every day, his mercies, overabundant.
Then there’s that grace thing. You know, the one that overwhelms you from time to time. You’re always covered by it. Always.
The world’s false illusion of perfection will devour you if you let it.
So take heart, Woman-That-I-Really-Am. Your worth has been measured. The wage, paid.
Remember? On a rugged, blood-stained tree, with a thorn-pierced brow, from three words whispered in utter agony “It is finished.”
He made you perfect.
For His name’s sake.
I don’t want to write this post. I am choosing to obey and write it anyway. If you read to the end, you’ll understand why.
About two weeks ago, something in me changed. A friend from afar emailed me. She noticed something in my facebook statuses. I had been trying to lose weight. And I had been mentioning it and talking about it and posting about it for awhile.
This beautiful friend saw through the joking and the starting of diets and failing of diets and starting and stopping of exercise plans. She saw my hurt. She saw my shame. She saw my brokenness. She saw me.
She saw these numerous, but sporadically placed, status updates and sent me an email. She shared something with me. She gently, but lovingly shared her own testimony. Then she gently and lovingly pointed out that I have an addiction.
An addiction to food.
I read her message and I cried. This dear, sweet sister in Christ, who I haven’t seen in years, looked past the computer screen and thousands of miles and she saw my heart. You know who you are. I know you’re reading. And I thank and praise God so much for you.
She didn’t just point out my sin. She offered hope. And answers. And encouragement.
The truth is that I’ve been turning to all the wrong places to be full. I’ve spent half (maybe more) of my life obsessing about food, obsessing about needing to lose weight, obsessing over what people thought of how I looked. It’s what inspired the post “Dear World.” It’s what inspired the post “Take these Broken Vessels.”
If I have to be truly honest with you, which I have promised to do, dear readers, it’s that I’ve been broken for many, many years. Over something as fleeting as appearances.
My dear, sweet friend offered this hope in the form of an online Bible Study.
The Holy Spirit, through this Bible study, has revealed not only my sin of gluttony, but also the sins of vanity, of disbelief, of laziness. It’s made me stare my sin nature in the face. It’s more than just losing weight. It’s not about another diet or exercise plan that I hope I can follow through with, but ultimately know I’ll fail. It’s about feasting on the Word of God. It’s about throwing off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles (Hebrews 12:1).
Maybe you don’t have an addiction to food. Maybe you struggle with something else. Setting Captives Free has studies geared toward other addictive behaviors like cutting, smoking, alcohol/drugs, anorexia and bulimia, gambling, and sexual purity. It costs NOTHING. Just like grace, it’s free. Just visit the site. Watch the video. Pray about it. If you know you’re supposed to sign up, you will.
This whole process has been refining. It’s hurt. It’s been difficult. It’s been excruciating. It’s also been freeing. It’s been redeeming. It’s been an opening of the book that reveals the love story written for me before time began.
It has been an invitation to fall back in love with my Savior and feast on the words he gives me instead of the food I’ve allowed to numb me. It’s believing that the redemptive work he did on the cross covers the sin that has been revealed and has already overcome it.
I’ve written this because it needs to be shared. I still have several weeks until I finish my study. But I couldn’t wait to share this. Someone has been a slave to sin for too long. Someone needs to know that they aren’t alone. Someone needs to know that there is hope. Someone needs to hear that his or her value comes from Christ alone.
So that’s all. I’m spent. It’s hard to confess this to the Lord, let alone the world. I just can’t hide in the dark any longer. It’s lonely there. It’s depressing there. I was NOT created for darkness. He created me to be salt and light. And in order to do that, I have to be exposed.
“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” John 3:19-21
Will you walk in the light with me? Will you be willing to expose your heart?
If you want to comment here, please do. If you do not feel comfortable sharing here, you may send me an email. If you decide to embark on this freeing journey, I would love to pray for you.
Something happened yesterday.
My sweet little girl, the one who made me a mother, the one who received my undivided attention for a time, the one who I has been my parenting guinea pig, looked at me matter-of-factly and said, “Mommy, you’re fat.”
I was shocked. I was disgusted. I was floored. But not in the ways you might think.
I was shocked that she has already determined the difference between skinny and fat and has learned that you say that skinny is the more desirable of the two. I was disgusted because I know exactly why she thought it was okay to say that to me. She has heard me say it. I’m the one who gave her the idea, the words, to tell me I was fat. How many times in her five and a half year old life has she heard me say, “I’m fat” or “I’m so ugly” or “I need to lose weight”? She heard the words straight from my own mouth. I was floored because it woke me up to the reality that you have been a lousy lover.
I have eaten your lies. They’ve made me feel inferior and worthless and ashamed. Here are some of the things you told me:
You can’t fit into size 2 jeans and that’s bad.
Why don’t you try this diet? You NEED to lose weight.
You’re hair’s turning gray, you’d better color it before someone thinks you’re old.
Your house doesn’t look like the ones on HGTV. Your friends won’t like you if they see it like this.
It’s been three months since you had that baby and you still haven’t lost the weight. That’s disgusting.
The true measure of your worth is what you look like on the outside. And you don’t look good.
I gave you advice on babycenter.com and in parenting magazine and in all those books you read and you didn’t follow the rules to a T. You’re a bad mother.
You don’t look like you belong on the front of a magazine, so you’re ugly.
I see a wrinkle. It’s okay (and most necessary) to spend hundreds of dollars on that new anti-aging creme because getting old is BAD.
These are the things you need to worry about and obsess about.
I’m not laying all the blame at your feet. I was a willing participant in this relationship. I chose to believe your lies. I’ve wasted years trying to reach some unattainable, impossible, imaginary standard you put before me. You did a good job distracting me. You did a good job sucking me into thinking that my worth was dependent on how you value me.
And you made me forget. You made me forget the one who made me, who loves me, who calls me his own. I let you distract me from his truth that tells me:
You are to clothe yourself with Christ Jesus (Romans 13:4).
You’re made in MY image (Genesis 1:27).
Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness (Proverbs 16:31).
My Father’s house has many rooms and I’m going to prepare a place for you (John 14:1-3).
You are my child (John 1:12-13).
Do not worry about what you will wear or what you will eat. I feed the birds. I dress the lilies of the field. I know you need these things and I will provide (Matthew 6:25-32). Seek MY kingdom first (Matthew 6:33).
You are to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29), not to the world (Romans 12:22).
All scripture is God-Breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training [your children] in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Your beauty is not marked by the clothes you wear, your hairstyle, or jewelry (1 Peter 3:3), but true beauty that doesn’t fade is that of a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4).
Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised (Proverbs 31:30).
So world, I may have believed your lies in the past. Belief in those lies may have taken years from me. I may have taken your lies to heart and said them out loud to myself. But not anymore.
I won’t let your lies come out of my mouth and into the minds of my daughters anymore. I will tell them the truth about who I am, who they are. When they grow up, you’ll try to tell them the lies you have told me and I believed. And they will laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of it all. They will know what true beauty is. And they will know that your definition of beauty is severely lacking.
So, I’m breaking up with you, World. We’re through. I’ve had enough of your abuse. I’m done trying to get you to love me back.
I’ve got to go now. I need to sit at the feet of my Father. He has a lot to tell me about myself. He has truth to feed me. Your lies have left me thirsty and malnourished. It’s time for some real food.