I love God’s word. It’s rich with truth that applies to every area of our lives. But, I’ll be honest. I struggled for many years with my body image and I didn’t feel like the Bible helped me. At all.
I knew I was “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
I knew I was “God’s masterpiece.”
And, I knew I was made in his image.
But none of that seemed to matter. I still wanted to be thinner, prettier . . . I wanted being “made in his image” and a “masterpiece” only if that meant I’d look more like the cover of a magazine.
That’s why my three favorite Bible verses for body image issues may totally surprise you.
Here’s my list.
“Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.”
No one chooses their “life verse” out of the book of Jonah, right? I love surprising hosts during podcast interviews when they say, “What’s your favorite verse?” and I pull out this one. But, it’s true. This verse is a constant reminder to me that when I chase vain idols (beauty, body image, approval, control) I miss out on what I really want–love. Why do I stress over what I look like? Because I want you to love me more. Why do I restrict food or struggle with eating disorders? Because, underneath it all, I believe that being in control will somehow bring me more acceptance, approval, and love. Only problem is, the opposite happens. When I chase these idols — I separate myself from the only one who loves me unconditionally. I put sin in the middle of my relationship with him and I feel lonely and empty. Take care of the idol problem and body image issues change.
“Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
On one of my recent podcast episodes, two pastors summed it up like this, “Are you going to define beauty by the world or by the word?”
And that’s what I love about this verse. When we are saved we become new creatures. We put off our old self–that means putting off what the old self prioritizing — like a hot body. I’m not saying we forsake health. But, we forsake health as an idol and we give up the pursuit of things that won’t last. Our deceitful desires (Hello? Anyone else want everyone to think they looked GOOD at that special occasion?) and instead we renew our minds to see beyond the flesh to see how God sees us all–to see our hearts.
“Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.”
If you want your body image to be transformed, you have to stop and ask what you are looking at to define beauty. Are you relying on magazines, Netflix, and movies to tell you what makes a woman beautiful? Do you spend a lot of time looking at images (or messages) that tell you (subconsciously) that you are only valuable if you get that look?
I’ve found the more time I spend staring at “worthless” things the more the life is sucked out of me! The more women in bikinis, magazine models, and the like that I consume–the more I stress over my body size and shape. Just one trip to the salon and an hour with some fashion magazines can leave me feeling inferior and insecure in every way. Memorize this verse and pull it out every time you’re tempted to compare yourself to images of other women. Life comes when we can limit these images and live freely in the ability to define beauty the way God defines it.
What are your favorite verses for battling body image?