I carefully carry the steaming hot mug to the counter. A quick reach in the fridge and I’m ready to pour some partially-hydrogenated goodness and transform my coffee into a (chemical-laden yet delicious) salted caramel mocha treat. The metal spoon clinks the sides of the cup as I stir. I pull the spoon out and lick it for a hint of the goodness to come.
But instead of feeling the contrast of the cold smooth metal and the sweet warm liquid, my tongue discovers something else. Something rough and gritty.
Post-dishwasher dried-on peanut butter. Yuck.
Here I confess to not being an expert dishwasher user. My philosophy of dish loading is captured in four words: Fit. Them. All. In! No matter what, leave no dish or utensil to wait for the next load. Cram them, jam them. Make it work.
I do okay for the most part. But, every few weeks a peanut butter spoon happens. So, what do I do if I catch it?
I simply put it back through the dishwasher for another round.
You see, I’m convinced the dishwasher has super scrubbing powers of which this spoon has not yet been exposed. Thus, I apply the definition of insanity and leave it up to the dishwasher to tackle over and over again. Though it couldn’t get the big glob of peanut paste off the first time, I’m sure that the third or fourth time through it’ll get worn down enough to wash right off.
Anything to not have to scrub. Scrubbing takes work.
As I sip my coffee this morning and try to recover from the mental nastiness of licking that–likely weeks old–crusty peanut butter, I can’t help but think that this is how I treated my body image issues for many years.
I wanted to be cleansed. I felt the stain that my self-focus and body image preoccupation was making on my life. But, I didn’t know how to fix it. All I knew how to do was to try to change externally. I hoped that body change would make the problem I mistakenly thought was attached to my body disappear. I didn’t really know the stain was actually in my heart, but, truthfully, I didn’t really want to search for a stain there anyway.
I tried every new diet, praying the next one would be my last. If a new exercise program was out, I’d invest in it too. The Ab Roller, Thigh Master, Tae Bo videos, P90X, the Total Gym, Jillian’s 90 Day Shred, and an elliptical machine have all graced my Visa bill. Then, there are the supplements… Don’t get me started there. If the bottle said “Results Guaranteed” and had any number on it less than 31 days…What did I have to lose?
I missed the point and delayed my freedom.
Sure, I could change my body, a bit. I did have some dieting and exercise success. A few of those supplements made me feel better. (I’m not saying that diet, exercise and proper nutrition are bad in any way. Although I do think that there is a better answer than fad diets for Christian women and I wrote about that here.)
All of the work I did on my outsides couldn’t change my insides–where the problem resided–in my heart.
You see, beauty isn’t a destination. It’s an idol. One that tells us that being the perfect weight, size, or body type is more fulfilling here on earth than anything our Savior has to offer.
Body image struggles don’t come off with the right diet, exercise plan or supplements. We have to scrub our hearts.
Or else we stay stained. We stay bound to our insecurity. Freedom eludes us because the root of our struggle never gets addressed.
I have a favorite old hymn that goes something like this, “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”
His blood was shed to make us clean and whole.
And his sacrifice sufficiently covers even our struggles with our physical bodies… If you can see them for what they are…idolatry issues. Sin of which we can be freed from.
And, this should give us great hope.