I’m really glad there isn’t a lie detector machine at my doctor’s office. Because when she asked me if I “ate clean” I’m fairly confident I let the word “Yes” slip out of my mouth.
Of course, as long as tortilla chips, Velveeta dip, street tacos, and M&Ms are clean. I told the truth.
Alas, in my mind I seem to quantify my occassional spinach salad or fruit smoothie as how I eat all the time. Yes, I try to watch my diet. Yet I love chocolate more than I love kale.
Therein lies my struggle.
I know that food is medicine. I know that the better I feed my body, the better I will feel. I know that I don’t eat enough vegetables.
But, I also know that I’ll choose a handful of chocolate chips over a handful of pumpkin seeds any day. I know that stopping to eat a sweet potato fuels me for a few hours, where as bites of random “granola type” things I find in the pantry leave me snacking and dissatisfied.
What I eat determines (in large part) how I feel. I believe this.
But, Lord help my unbelief.
It occurred to me today that I’m just like the man in Mark 9:24 who cries out this very expression. There’s a lot I believe in my brain. (Or, at least I “think” I believe it in my brain.) I can tell you the science. I can cite the studies. I know that I know that good nutrition makes a positive difference in one’s health.
If I believed it. . .If I truly believed . . . Wouldn’t my eating habits show it? Where’s the block? Why does what I believe about clean eating not translate into a clean diet?
It’s a struggle to believe.
What do you believe about your body image?
It’s the same with my body image.
I believe that I am loved beyond what I measure. I believe that my value and worth are found in Jesus alone. And, yet . . .
When the doctor prescribes a four week cleanse to build my immunity, my first thought is not “Great, I’ll get well and fight this autoimmune disorder the right way.”
It’s, “Yippee! Maybe, I’ll get thinner!”
I default to my dieter’s mentality. I resort to a belief more fundamental than those which preach Jesus loves me no matter what my size. I believe my weight matters more than it actually does.
Lord, help my unbelief.
Yesterday a friend posted on Facebook that she “needed” a new diet product. She’s fifteen pounds heavier than she prefers and wants to lose it fast. (Of course, right? No one is looking for the “lose it slow” weight loss program. I digress. . . ).
I messaged her and encouraged her with some ways to be healthy in her eating. She’s only a few months postpartum, so I also told her to be patient and give her body a chance to readjust. Finally, I reminded her that her value doesn’t come from her body alone.
Her response? “I was waiting for that!”
“I know . . .I know.” She added.
And I thought: You know, yes. But you don’t believe.
The gap between our heads and our hearts can only be closed with one thing. Faith.
You’ve likely never considered your body image battle a battle of faith. But that’s exactly what it is.
The Battle of Faith
Those of us who battle scales and mirrors are really wrestling something much greater. We fight an idol that tells us that happiness, fulfillment, contentment, and peace will be delivered to us (tied with a bow) as soon as we can reach that goal weight or get our body too look just right.
It takes faith to believe that this lie of our culture isn’t true. It takes faith, extreme faith, to believe that there is more to life than what we see here–on earth. It takes even more faith to believe that God truly is who he says he is and that His love is enough.
How do we build our faith? We seek him. We read his Word. We pray. But, it’s a regular discipline. Not a one time fix. Luke 9:23 says that Jesus’ disciples must take up their cross daily. I’ve found that the seasons I feel most defeated in my struggle with body image and insecurity correspond to the seasons when I’m skipping my Bible reading or spending less time in prayer.
Do you believe while battling unbelief too? If so, let’s pray this prayer together:
Dear Lord, Help our unbelief. You know where our heart struggles to trust that you are enough. Please help us to turn to you for the affirmation, acceptance, and love we seek from others. Help us to grasp your acceptance and great love for us. Lead us in your ways and help us to find our strength and confidence in you alone. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.