“I love you for who you are.”– Jesus Calling, March 3
Living in a world where so much attention is placed on aesthetics, it’s hard to untie our value, identity, or worth from the external appearance of our bodies. We worry about whether we measure up to unrealistic body standards that are ever-pervasive in our diet-driven culture, and in turn, we fail to fully understand that there is so much more to us than meets the eye.
A Painful Journey
At 336 pounds I felt the sting of the world around me saying I was taking up too much physical space. I carried a deeply rooted belief that there was something innately wrong with me because I didn’t fit the mold of what society said was an appropriate body size.
After a number of years, I did the thing that so many of us desperately desire to do. I began a journey in which I lost more than 150 pounds. To my surprise, though, I still found myself consumed with negative thoughts about my body. I constantly second-guessed whether my body was “good enough,” whether I needed to lose more weight, or whether others were still thinking negatively about me.
Perception and Perspective
It was disheartening to discover that making physical changes to my body didn’t automatically change the thoughts and feelings I carried in my mind and heart about myself.
Throughout my journey I have experienced life in a multitude of body compositions. I’ve viewed the world through various lenses, which has given me perspective on the amount of energy we spend legitimizing our bodies on a daily basis. I’ve been every size from 6 to 28, and here’s what I know to be true:
No matter the size of my body, who I am at my core does not change. I’m still me.
The same gifts, abilities, and personality traits persist. But what I’ve had to learn is that the real me has nothing to do with the aesthetic composition of my body. There is so much more to me than my size, shape, or appearance.
I love the encouragement found in Jesus’ words in Jeremiah 1:5: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart” (NIV).
Made by God
God literally handcrafted us, knows us better than anyone, and has a plan for our lives. When we’re tempted to wander down the paths of thought that lead to a negative view of ourselves, we can remember that God made the incredible body we live in. We can choose gratitude and celebration for what our bodies are capable of doing.
The truth is, our bodies are good. Amazing even.
And another truth is there is more to who we are as individuals than the bodies we live in. There are depths to our hearts that cannot be seen by simply glancing at our exterior appearance. There are quirks and traits and characteristics that are unique to us, specifically.
In 1 Samuel 16:7 (NLT) we see this very comforting truth that keeps all things in perspective: “The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
What a wonderful truth filled with such comfort for those of us who struggle to love the girl in the mirror.
While the world around us makes it difficult to appreciate our body no matter its size or shape, we can allow God to mold our self-image in a way that reflects how He feels about us. Romans 12:2 (NLT) says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” It’s not about changing our body composition; it’s about changing the way we think about ourselves so that we’re tending to what really matters: our heart, our relationship with God, and our relationship with others.
Your Body is Good
The next time you’re tempted to reduce your value or worth to something pertaining to your physical body, remind yourself of the truth. Your body is good; you were handcrafted by a God who only makes good things. There is more to you than your body; you have gifts to offer to the world around you in a way that only you can. God is not stopping at surface-level; He cares about the condition of your heart most. Lean in and allow Him to transform you into a new person not by changing your body, but by changing the way you think.
There is more to you than meets the eye.
About The Author
Jennifer Taylor Wagner is a certified fitness instructor and successful blogger. She is passionate about challenging the way we think about health, wellness, and regularly writes on the topics of healthy living and body positivity. Whether it’s hosting online webinars, speaking in churches, or chatting at MOPS meetings, she is committed to helping others find hope in their journey. Jennifer lives in Virginia with her husband, Phil and their two kids. Visit her online at jennifertaylorwagner.com.