You are fearfully and wonderfully made! You’ve heard it. You’ve read it. You have it inscribed on a wall plaque.
But, you still struggle with your body image.
You don’t tell anyone it’s not helping. Especially not God! What if he gets upset that his word hasn’t changed your life? Christian. Fail.
Fearfully and wonderfully made. Hmmmmm.
Better than my son’s best LEGO creation–that’s me and you. Filled from head to toe with an amazing assortment of bizarre (yet extremely important) parts that combine to create your soul’s home for eighty years–give or take a few.
Our intestines could stretch around the world. Organs not bigger than a scoop of cookie dough decide how much we weigh and how we feel on any given day. Billions of cells cooperate, seamlessly, for every breath, blink and thought. Bones, nerves, muscles, organs, including our skin (cellulite and all), are jaw-droppingly impressive in their respective roles.
Yes, my body amazes me. For like a solid fifteen seconds.
Then, I turn on the television or scan Facebook and observe the way other bodies look. Suddenly, I’m not quite as impressed by my own anatomy, no matter how fearfully and wonderfully made it is.
Thanks for granting me legs that can run at a max speed of (an embarrassing) twenty-minute mile, arms that will always carry extra padding no matter how many thousands of tricep presses I do, and the awesome ability to store extra weight around the middle in case of sudden famine here in Texas.
I’m wondering, though, if maybe we could make a few adjustments? Costco is close by. In my estimation, there’s really no need for me to have this much fat-storing capability. Arguably, that extra flesh may not bring glory to you. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but since you created this whole
mess wonderful piece of art, could we discuss a few minor tweaks?
Some days, I wrestle my body image to the ground. As I wallow in woe–longing for this particular part of God’s creation to be even more amazing–I wonder why that fearfully and wonderfully made verse doesn’t move me.
How is it that God made me amazing and yet, I’m dissatisfied?
Fearfully and Wonderfully Discontent?
It’s printed on the brochures and it’s in every. single. Christian. article. you’ll ever read on body image. But I don’t think it works.
Because we’ve made it about us. Not about God.
We’ve twisted David’s exclamation of gratitude and wonderment towards God and turned it into a verse about us.
Let’s take a look at the verse in its entirety:
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalms 139:14
As funny man Steve Martin said it in Father of the Bride. “We put the emPHAsis on the wrong syllAble.”
We read loud and proud the personal pronouns: I am fearfully and wonderfully made. My soul knows it. Sometimes (like in the “prettified” quote above) we leave out the God part all together.
David would have read that sentence in a different way. David worshipped like the woman with a tambourine at a charismatic church service. He would have shouted his praise to God at the tops of his lungs. If we could actually hear David say it–with all the emotion he was renowned for–we’d not even be tempted to make it about us. We’d understand that this verse is about the awesomeness of God, not me.
God’s word isn’t a self-esteem manual.
When we read the Bible with the intent of bringing glory to ourselves it lacks transformational power.
This is also why self-esteem falls flat. Frankly, you and I aren’t really all that amazing. I mean, we are amazing but only because God designed us that way. Pepping myself up on my own awesomeness only keeps me out of the body image pit for a few hours.
We are the creation. Not the creator. We get in trouble every time we try to worship ourselves using the words “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Romans 1:25 spells this out.)
It’s funny. We don’t get confused about this at other places in culture. For example: we understand that Picasso was a dynamic artist. We aren’t tempted to praise his paintings without giving him credit. We wouldn’t tell our iPhones they are amazing–instead we laud the brilliance of Steve Jobs. I doubt any of us have looked up at a skyscraper and been tempted to dwell on its inherent architectural goodness. Instead, we think, “Wow. Someone a whole lot smarter than I am figured out how to design this building. They are impressive.”
Psalms 139:14 may well be the most helpful verse for transforming our body image–if we would adjust the way we read it. Moving our gaze off of ourselves and onto our amazing creator, I believe, is part of the first step to finding true body image freedom.
Do you agree? How do you read this verse about being fearfully and wonderfully made?