If your Facebook feed is anything like mine, it has been flooded with advertisements for Daily Burn and sunrise yoga. This time of year brings with it thoughts of resolutions and goals for the new year. This is the time of year when I decide it’s time to change my diet and my body, and I begin comparing my body to the bodies of others.
Of course, I know the bodies on television are not real. I remember when I was around 12 years old, I learned that Vivian Leigh, the actress who played Scarlett O’Hara on Gone with the Wind, had been duck taped to push her breasts together and give her cleavage. I also understand the still pictures in magazines are photoshoped sometimes to the point of disfigurement. But what about my friend whom I meet walking down the hallway at church? I sure wish I looked as good as she does! The truth is, for all I know, she is wearing three layers of Spanx under that pencil skirt. There is no such thing as a perfect body. Think of the person you know whom you would describe as perfect. Maybe she is tall and thin and has gorgeous skin and hair. I promise you she has body image issues just like the rest of us.
Maybe your issue is your body shape, and I don’t mean the extra weight you’re carrying around your middle. I mean the shape of your body. Maybe you are too pear shaped, or you’re too short, or your calves are too big, or your shoulders are too rounded. Maybe you struggle with adult acne. I firmly believe it should be against the laws of nature to have wrinkles and pimples at the same time! Can I get an “amen”? Maybe your teeth are too big or too crooked or too yellow. Maybe your hair is too curly or frizzy or too limp or too the-wrong-color. Maybe you’re more concerned with aging and everything it brings with it: poor eyesight, body aches, or the fact that every time you sneeze, you pee a little. No matter who you are, if you are female, you have struggled with your body.
But the fact is, your body is a gift. God made your body specifically for you. Psalm 139:13 says, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” The Psalmist acknowledges that God intentionally put his body together. God formed you and knitted you together while you were still in the womb. This description conjures up painstaking, detailed work. I picture God with head-mounted magnifying glasses working tirelessly on the tedious details of sewing very small parts together.
Have you ever made a gift for someone? Maybe you hand made a card for a family member, or you crocheted a scarf for a friend. Maybe you made an elaborate and time-consuming quilt as a gift for someone. What reaction did you want the recipient to have when he or she saw the gift? What reaction do you have when your child brings you something he made for you? Do you say “you used red, but I wish you had used purple”? Or do you ask, “can I have the one you made for daddy instead?” Just picturing the expression on my daughter’s face if I responded to her gift in that way makes me cringe. And yet, I do it to God everyday. Every time I complain about my curly, frizzy hair, I’m telling God that He made a mistake. When I compare my body to my friend’s body, I’m telling God that He got it wrong. Those times I criticize my nose or my eyes or my thighs, I am expressing ingratitude for the gift God has given me.
The Psalmist had the right idea when he continued in verse 14, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” I must praise God for the gifts He gives me, including my body. I need to acknowledge that He knows what He’s doing, and He knows what’s best for me.
Not only did God form you the way you are intentionally, but He did it with a purpose and for a purpose. In Jeremiah 1:5-6 God tells Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” God knew what Jeremiah was going to do before Jeremiah was born; therefore, God created Jeremiah with that purpose in mind and gave Jeremiah the tools he would need to accomplish the task. It is the same for me. God knows what purpose my life will serve, and He created me with the right tools for the job. When God asks me to do something, I know that He has already equipped me for that purpose. This knowledge gives me the confidence to take the step of faith required to accomplish His will.
My challenge is the next time I am tempted to criticize my body, I will remember that God intentionally formed me and knit me together. I will take the time to praise Him for my body and my abilities rather than be ungrateful for the gifts He has given me. Will you join me?
(Because this post is not to be used as an excuse for being overweight, in the next blog post we will look at the connection between pursuing weight loss and pursuing godliness.)