Take It to a 2: What to Do if You are Consumed With Body Perfection

I’d consider myself an extreme person.

My mama says I’m “spirited.” She’s right. I don’t do moderation well, or sometimes at all. I’m all in (venti drinks, marathons I don’t train for, volunteering as “Tribute” whenever possible) or totally out (why clean anything if it’s just going to get dirty again?). My middle gear is perpetually stuck.

Lack of moderation can (in moments) be helpful, or funny, or motivational, but it can also result in the making of a THING of out a thing. Elevating a good thing to an ultimate thing. Putting the weight (pun intended) of my life into a thing that wasn’t meant to and can’t hold it. In Christianese, I think we call this an idol.

A little over a year ago, I was cruising down the highway (Just kidding; I live in Austin: we don’t cruise, we crawl), minding my own business, thinking about THE PLAN to make my body finally once and for all satisfactory to me and to the world. Eat less of this, more of that, workout twice to compensate for the chips and salsa (always the chips and salsa). More green tea and less red wine. Out of the blue, the thought train halted and was replaced with a question. “Should I care this much about my body?”

I felt frozen. Astoundingly, never in the decades of “working on my body” while also following Jesus had I ever stopped to consider whether the value I placed on my body, diet, exercise, fitness, and even health was called for, and whether it aligned with what I believe about Jesus and who he says I am.

The questions didn’t stop there.hallie-coffee

“What if I spent the time and energy now directed to body to Jesus instead?”

“What if the space dedicated to obsessing over every meal and every situation, game planning my game plan, reading articles, devouring fitspo (really, Hallie??), devising the perfect workout was dedicated instead to something that really deserved it?”

“Heck, what if even HALF of this momentum was put behind something, ANYTHING that’s actually worth it?”

I waited for my defenses to kick in. To answer the conviction with a swift dose of excuses, reasons why focusing on “health” isn’t really all that bad. Jesus wants me to be healthy! My body is a temple. I’m not really as bad as some other people!

I couldn’t shake it. I’m a lawyer, a professional argument-maker-and-defender, and I couldn’t justify the level of value I’d placed on my physique, my plans, my pursuit of perfection. It was an 11 on a scale of 10, reflected in what preoccupied my mind, my money, and my schedule.

Overwhelmed by what I might have missed, what opportunities I’d squandered by worshipping my 11, I called out to Jesus. “Lord, I don’t want this to be an 11. I want you to be my only 11. Please teach me how to devalue this. Help me take it to a 2.” Dethroning the pursuit of my best physical self felt like a critical step in making heart space for the things I really do value: knowing Jesus better, serving others, loving people well, and even just doing what He’s called me to do in the day to day.

It hasn’t been easy. I’m inclined to make my body a 0 or an 11. The binary choice: do nothing to take care of this body that God’s given me, or design my life around it in a way that demonstrates its inflated importance. But as I have continually pleaded with God to help me assign appropriate value to each area of my life, I’ve seen my heart change. I’m less inclined to jump to an 11, and I can recognize when I do, and affirm the value that I intend to place. Take it to a 2.


HallieGravesHallie is a 30-year-old, energetic Jesus follower living the single gal life in her hometown, Austin, Texas. She is technically a lawyer but likes to think of herself as an advocate and a cheerleader for those without a voice (seeing as she has enough voice to share). She is passionate about serving children in foster care and encouraging women to live the fullest, most free lives that Jesus has called them to live. Hallie is obsessed with Broadway shows, La Croix fancy water, hummus, red wine, group fitness classes, and her people, and she can almost always be found somewhere around Town Lake. Follow Hallie’s blog here.  Read Hallie’s posts here.

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