I’ve been at war with my appearance for longer than I care to admit. Weight, age, shape, strength, speed — there’s always been something I’ve told myself isn’t enough. I’ve felt physically lacking for most of my life. Now, as a woman in her forties, I’ve been hit with the double whammy of worrying about the scale and shouldering shame from seeing the signs of aging that creep across my face and neck.
The five pounds I’ve been trying to shirk for the last six months won’t budge, all the old tricks from my youth seemingly fail me. The lotions and serums I’m smearing around my eyes and under my chin are busting my bank account. They’re also not changing the creased skin that looks back at me in the mirror.
It all feels like a losing battle. . .
On a morning walk to Starbucks one Tuesday, I hear God ask, “What do you value? Do you think your shape is why I love you?” These are not the prophetic words I want. Still, they cause me to relax a bit . . . like I’ve put down a load I didn’t even know I was carrying. Maybe this is the weight that’s been tipping the scale every time I step on it? Maybe these are the five pounds I’ve been trying to shed?
Shedding spiritual weight isn’t easy, though, so I push back at God. “You’ve got the wrong person, God,” I say, sounding like Moses when God asked him to do something he didn’t think he could do. Change is ahead, but I’m not sure I want to shed these emotional five pounds. Can’t I just lose the weight from my thighs and arms instead? Those are the real problem areas, not this bigger thing He’s trying to turn me toward.
The truth is an unholy confession: I want my body to change, not my heart. Even as I resist, I think about Adam and Eve naked in the garden. Peaceful. Open. Without mirrors. Without scales. Without denim that shrinks with every passing wash and year. After He created them, God didn’t give Adam and Eve instructions on how they should look or what workout would yield the leanest physique. He didn’t tell them to increase their protein and skimp on the carbs. Instead, we read in Genesis 1:29, “And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.'” (ESV)
God provided plants for food. God told them to eat without worry.
God has never cared about my BMI. I understand this even as I’m still grabbing at those five pounds He’s trying to release from my shoulders . . . the weight I’ve been carrying for all these years. The weight that tells me I didn’t move enough or that I ate too much. The weight that critiques why I don’t look the way I think I’m supposed to look.
“Supposed to look” is an ideology as old as the Bible. We see it in Samuel expecting Jesse’s son, Eliab, to be the future king, merely because of his good looks. And, though we’re told that David is handsome himself, we’re quickly set straight that he is chosen for his heart.
God doesn’t look at the scale to evaluate our worth. He doesn’t clock the pace on our morning run; He isn’t a trainer screaming at us to work harder, jump higher, eat only chicken and broccoli. Instead, God looks at the heart. And, as long as my heart is steering me toward an external goal for happiness or value, I know that what God sees is my pain and distrust in His plan for me. He sees me doubting that I was truly created in His image. But now I see, that being created in His image doesn’t mean we come in one standard of physique — rather, it’s the strength of heart. This is what He is trying to teach me; this is the burden that He’s trying to release me of.
This is the weight that will be lost when I step on the scale.
As it goes with these things, in the time I’ve sat down to write these words to you, my faith has been tested. My jeans feel a bit snug and I’ve put on a few extra pounds . . . now I feel the burden pressing down on my back again. This won’t be a one-and-done healing. The holy heart work that must be done is a daily redirection away from the world’s ideals and a determined stride toward God’s promises.
And so, I continue on this journey — as do you — one day at a time.Leave a Comment