A few days ago, I was back at it with an old foe. Self-image, weight issues, hearing words from long ago echoing in my mind. Thinking about how I can’t seem to lose weight without obsession or extreme deprivation, thinking about what certain members of my family might be saying about me behind my back if they could see me right now. It’s something I’ve dealt with for a very long time and is just not something I’ve beaten yet.
It’s easy to imagine what other people think and then start feeling like God probably feels the same way. Disappointed that I still have baby weight from last time, disappointed that I am not athletic, that I am not a socially accepted size. I was going down that road when I felt Him whisper, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.”
I turned in my Bible to Psalms 139 and read this familiar verse again:
“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made:
marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knows right well.”
I have for many years imagined myself to be overweight, even when I wasn’t. When I was a young teenager and had to stop wearing junior sizes and wear women’s clothing, I thought this meant I was now fat. When my friends wore size fours and I wore a size ten, I thought this meant I was huge. I look back at photos of myself and feel grieved that I spent so many years thinking that way. So why do I still do that? I’m not talking about making excuses for bad eating or sitting around doing nothing – those are things I’ve been working on for a very long time – I mean focusing too much on clothing size and the shape of my body and what I look like in photos.
He has done marvelous works in my life, both physically and spiritually. I have been delivered from depression, healed of allergies and given the opportunity to carry and birth eight children, even though I once said I wouldn’t have more than three and when I got married, assumed I would be done by the time I was thirty. My body certainly shows the signs of carrying those babies but why don’t I wear it as a badge of honour? Why do I obsess?
The day after this gentle reminder, I asked God how I could lose a bit more weight. He answered quietly, “Just stop eating so much.” I tend to believe that I need to calorie count, work out all the time, eat perfectly, etc. to lose any weight at all and because of my weakness when it comes to perfectionism, I often give up when I realize I can’t do all of that perfectly. But what if I don’t need to be a size ten again? God knows what is right for me and I believe that the first step is moderation. Moderation in what I eat and how I exercise. Not giving into gluttony but not starving myself or becoming obsessive either – that side of things isn’t moderation any more than eating at a buffet every day would be. Not sitting around doing nothing but not spending all my extra time on exercise.
There are practical things I can do to lose weight or at least stop gaining but if my view of myself is broken and I do not see myself through God’s eyes, my motives will always be wrong. I have watched people with a terrible self-image have amazing success at losing weight and it’s just never enough – they still see themselves as too fat or not fit enough. I’ve been down that road, doing crazy things to just lose a few more pounds to hit a goal. That’s not what I want. I want to look at myself and know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I need to love myself regardless of extra weight, wrinkles, stretch marks or blemishes. If I can figure this out, it won’t matter what I look like and I can finally win this long battle.