God made you special and He loves you very much.
Did anyone else grow up watching Veggie Tales?
The narrators of my childhood; a very wise tomato, and a fun-loving cucumber, ended every episode with that line: God made you special and He loves you very much.
It was engrained in my brain growing up, just like the smell of my mom’s perfume, a detailed inventory of my precious beanie babies collection, and the horrific taste of cod liver oil that still makes me shudder to this day. (Just, why, 90’s moms? WHY?)
But somewhere along the way I lost that message. I stopped believing that I was special, that I was loved, and like many young girls, I believed the lie that I had to look a certain way, or weigh a certain amount to be worthy of love.
It was somewhere around 6th grade when my body started changing waaaayyy before any of the other girls in my grade level. Suddenly I was taller than the boys, and about twice the size of most of my friends. All of this was accentuated by the fact that we wore uniforms, and I quite obviously filled my polo and khakis out very differently than everyone else.
I wasn’t chubby, I was always playing outside and running around playing sports with the guys, I was just a bit thicker than all my sweet little twig-like friends. They were still in girls sizes and I was awkwardly navigating the uncomfortable jump to bras and the juniors section. I was also gifted with these awkward, broad swimmers shoulders that appeared out of nowhere that summer and made their permanent home on my body. So, that was fun. We’ve been together ever since.
There were definitely ‘bullies’, unfortunately more at church than school, though I never really thought of them as such. They were my friends. I knew they were dealing with their own issues and awkward phases too. Their words hurt, but I learned how to be pretty tough and have a sense of humor about these things pretty quickly. I laughed it off when they cleverly teased me about my forehead being a FIVE-head, or when they rated all the girls in the youth group according to ‘hotness’ and I was very obviously nowhere near the top, or when I started cheerleading and they all laughed at me saying I would obviously have to be on the bottom of the pyramid.
Looking back, I’m thankful for this awkward phase. I had a hefty dose of attitude and I shudder to think of who I would be today if I didn’t ever have to learn how to press through being left out, picked last, made fun of, and insecure about my body. No really, I was only a few eye rolls away from becoming a real life Bratz doll, so, looking back, this experience was somewhat needed. I kind of look at it as a rite of passage.
Humility is built in funny ways.
As I grew up though, I wish I could say that I didn’t let those comments stay in the back of my mind, that I didn’t rehearse them in my head whenever I looked in the mirror. I wish I could say I let my identity be found in Christ like my parents tried to teach me and that I looked to Scripture and dwelled more on what God said about me. But, I didn’t.
For years I went through life pretty much shaming myself for not having the body of a Barbie. I wouldn’t wear shorts or sleeveless shirts in the summer, I let how much I hated myself in a bathing suit overrule how much I loved being at the beach. One time I spent like hundreds of dollars on this “miracle coffee” I found on the internet that was supposed to make you lose all this weight and of course was a total scam.
I used to PRAY that God would make me skinny overnight.
I really don’t remember a time in my life where I wasn’t trying to lose weight. The cycle has always been the same. Decide to work out, set a goal weight (a number that, if reached, would naturally fix all of my problems and cause me to stop hating myself and let me start enjoying my life) eat a lot less food, lose some weight, then give up because I plateaued or just wasn’t seeing results. Eat my feelings in the winter, and then start the cycle again in the spring when Target has the nerve to put out their bathing suits that – I swear – have the coverage and modesty of dental floss.
And here I am. Twenty-six, almost twenty-seven, at the heaviest I’ve ever been, and on what feels like my billionth attempt at a weight loss journey.
But feeling more beautiful, confident, and hopeful than ever, not because of how I look, but because my identity is rooted in only JESUS.
God has been working on me a lot in the past few months and He showed me most recently how I’ve been so focused on my outward appearance and I’ve let my negative body image hold me back in my life.
- I’ve let it steal my joy and ruin my mood.
- I’ve let it hold me back from enjoying time with friends who are intimidatingly gorgeous… (…basically all of my friends)
- I’ve let it hold me back from living life.
- I’ve let the size on the tag of my jeans define me.
- I’ve laughed and made jokes about my size in public, and cried privately in dressing rooms because the hurt was actually pretty real.
- I’ve let it make me miserable.
- I’ve let it suck me into the trap of comparison.
- I’ve let it distract me from really walking in my calling and in freedom.
- I’ve let it become my identity.
BUT NOT ANYMORE.
I’m making the choice to live with intentional God-confidence. Not confidence in who I am, but in who He is. Not confidence in what I look like to the world, but in how I look to the one that created me. I am a child of God.
Nothing externally has changed about me.
But internally, I’m the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been.
I’ve been on this mindset, body image, and health journey officially for only about a month. I’ve been eating more vegetables than ever in my life and working out simply to be the best, healthiest version of myself I can be – BUT this time my end goal isn’t ‘enough-ness’, a dress size, or a number on the scale that gives me a sense of worth. This time my goal is health, taking care of my body as best I can, and an increased ability to live in FREEDOM.
My mindset is so positive, I am incredibly inspired, I am more passionate than ever about encouraging others to fall in love with Jesus and to encourage them to become the best version of themselves.
I am more hungry for the word of God than I am for carbohydrates. And carbs are my jam-bam-yes-ma’am. #breadislife
But, I know there is still work to be done. I know that it is a choice that I will have to make each and every day to not give in to my insecurities, to not pick apart my flaws and to not get trapped in another cycle of comparison and diminish my self-worth.
Even now, the scale isn’t going down at the rate I would like it to be, and I’m choosing to surrender control of it because I know that this transformation is starting from the inside out. I choose to not let the number on the scale define me.
Do you relate to my struggle, too? I know I am not alone in all of this. I know that there are so many women (and men) out there dealing with the same body image struggles and insecurities. We can all find flaw in ourselves. Yes, even that girl at the gym who you’ve secretly labeled as your #bodygoals – even she has struggled, and maybe still does.
This is why I’m writing these things, because I know we are ALL going through it, and that it can be so difficult to find the real, authentic, and raw in this world of Instagram curated perfection.
I want to share some real truth bombs with you guys today concerning body image. You may call it a rant, and that’s fine, but I’m passionate about this, and if I could figure out how to conjure up a ‘mic-drop’ in written form, this would be it.
Here are some things that I am finally believing and walking in, and I so hope and pray that reading this will inspire you to choose to live them out as well.
Read these words, believe them, print them out and tape them to your mirror, and let’s change our body image from the inside out, together.
*I’m putting these words in bold, capital letters, so as to showcase their worth and importance over the previously italicized list of words.
- YOUR ‘BEFORE’ PHOTO IS LOVED AND ENOUGH.
- God doesn’t cringe when He sees it. He calls you beautiful. Right now.
- YOUR GOAL WEIGHT WILL NOT FULFILL YOU.
- Only Jesus. You can be skinny, fit, toned, tan, well-dressed, have a perfectly straight, white smile, clear skin, and STILL be empty.
- YOU WERE MADE FOR MORE THAN TO SIMPLY LOOK PRETTY.
- Your purpose is so much more than skin-deep. Invest in that inner beauty! Read your bible, cultivate healthy friendships, love people who are hard to love, serve faithfully. Forgive. Encourage. Be a fountain, not a drain. This is real beauty.
- A BIKINI BODY IS LITERALLY A BIKINI ON ANY BODY.
- And wear the summer clothes! Don’t punish yourself sweating your curvy booty off in jeans and long sleeves all summer because you want to cover your flaws. Wear the dang tank top, your arms are not offensive because they jiggle a little.
- IF YOU SEE SOMETHING GOOD IN SOMEONE, SPEAK IT.
- Have a beautiful friend? Tell her she’s beautiful. Know someone who maybe you’ve never liked because you’re actually jealous of her? Start complementing her strengths, genuinely. Encouragement and building each other up shuts down jealousy QUICK. You may end up being best friends.
- THE TERM “REAL WOMEN” INCLUDES THE ONES WHO ARE NATURALLY THIN. HATING ON THESE WOMEN FOR THE GENES THEY WERE BLESSED WITH WILL ONLY ENHANCE YOUR INSECURITIES, JEALOUSY, AND BITTERNESS. IT’S ONLY PROJECTING THE SHAME YOU FEEL INSIDE ON TO SOMEONE ELSE, AND THAT JANK AIN’T PRETTY. I’M LEAVING THIS ONE IN ALL CAPS CAUSE YA MIGHT NEED TO READ IT TWICE. WE ARE ALL REAL, LOVED, AND ENOUGH.
- Re-read last point and make the choice to intentionally stop shaming others, FOR GOOD. 😉
- KINDNESS IS HOTTER THAN A THIGH GAP.
- And authentic, selfless love is sexier than a flat stomach. All day erry’day.
- TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF IS A GOOD THING. TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY FROM A PLACE OF LOVING IT, NOT PUNISHING IT.
- You only get one body, and you are going to do a lot with it in your lifetime. Why not put some effort into making it function excellently? Just know that true health starts with the state of your soul.
- DON’T OVERTHINK IT.
- Eat real food, drink water, and move your body. Start investing in yourself and allow it to take time. Your mindset is going to take time to get healthy, too, and that’s ok!
- DON’T LET THE SCALE TELL YOU YOUR WORTH.
- It’s simply a measuring tool to tell you what is positively and negatively effecting your body. Treat it as such. It cannot measure your worth, your health, or the tangible things that make you beautiful. It does not and cannot define you.
- YOU WERE CREATED INTENTIONALLY… EVERY. SINGLE. DETAIL.
- Every freckle, every dimple, every hair on your head… on purpose. You were made in the image of God. You are beautiful.
- LIVE YOUR LIFE RIGHT NOW.
- Don’t wait until you’ve reached your goals. Be present. Enjoy the days at the beach with your family and make a point to shut down the thoughts in your mind that make you insecure about being in a bathing suit. You’re making memories NOW. Be in pictures. Quit untagging yourself in unflattering facebook photos, that just gives power to your insecurities. How we show up for our lives is OUR CHOICE.
- You may not have been able to choose your body, and maybe you struggle with health issues that give you even less control. BUT YOU DO HAVE A CHOICE on how you let that effect your life. Let’s choose to live to the fullest today, not waiting for a better body, but creating a better mindset. Let’s live inside-out beauty.
I really don’t know how to end this blog post, and maybe that’s because my journey is far from over and that this will be an ongoing conversation. But I hope these words helped encourage you in some small way, today.
I hope that by reading this, you feel more confident in your worth in God, and less pressured to live up to the world’s surface-level, empty standard of beauty.
I hope you know that God made you special, and He loves you very much.