Permission to Rest in the Battle

Maybe it’s time we admit that this is hard. Everywhere we look and listen there are messages.

“You’re fat. You aren’t pretty enough. You’re flat-chested. Why don’t you get those crooked teeth fixed?”

Then you visit the body image web sites, and they tell you the opposite.

“Ignore the pictures in those magazines. They’re photo-shopped anyway. Healthy is more important than thin. Large breasts don’t make you more of a woman. Inner beauty is more important than high cheekbones and big eyes.” All true.

But it’s hard to believe the truth when the culture spews lies all the time. You’ve heard them since childhood. You hear them on the Internet. You can’t even go to the grocery store without seeing a slick magazine with the images that sear into your brain.

“I must fight them,” you say to yourself. “I must not believe the lies. I will wield my mental sword and try to block the blows. I must stand strong.”fighting body image

And maybe you’ve made progress. On the other hand, maybe after years of hearing the truth about your value – that it’s based on being made in God’s image and redeemed by Christ – even after years of progress in your thinking, after years of accepting yourself, after years of hard-fought victory . . . you fall off the wagon. You believe the lies all over again. You’re right back where you started. It could be that on a bad day, the wrong thinking comes right back. That should not be a shock. The culture — and maybe a few people in your life — brainwashed you very carefully. (Even if they didn’t mean to.) So don’t despair if the lie slips back in. Let it come. Then let it go. Forgive yourself for still believing the lie.

Give yourself a break. Sometimes it’s hard to disentangle the wrong thinking from your brain neurons. The rewiring may take years. It may never be complete on this side of death. So what? You’ve been hurt. Let yourself off the hook.

Drop your sword for a while and take a breather. Sometimes we switch from letting the media beat us up to beating ourselves up for listening to the media.

What if, when the lie attacks, you just say, “Hello . . .”

“Oh, here you are again. My favorite old Lie. How are you? Know what? Today I’m taking a break from the fighting. I know you’re a Lie, but I’m not going to try to push you out the door. Let’s call a truce, just for today. You want a drink? How ‘bout a beer? Oh, sorry, maybe you don’t drink. Soda, then? Help yourself. I’m taking a breather today. Oh, are you leaving so soon? What’s that? It’s no fun when I’m not tied up in a knot over it? Okay, see you next time.” The door closes. The Lie is gone. You know it will be back, but for now, you just sip your drink and close your eyes.

“Come away and rest awhile,” Jesus says. That Jesus. He knows just what to say.

WendyHermannSmithWendy Herrmann Smith lives in Greenville SC with her husband and two kids – a son she got after seventeen hours of labor and a C-section and a daughter adopted from China after a fourteen-hour flight and a lot of paperwork. She writes adult Bible study material for her denomination and blogs at Read Wendy’s other posts here.

  • Kristy
    September 28, 2016

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this post. For so many years I have struggled with these lies and some days/weeks I do well, rest in God’s love for me and set aside any anxious thoughts I have related to body image and “beauty”. Other days it is like everything hits and I cannot stop the constant inner struggle- even breaking down in tears because it is so overwhelming. Recently, my struggle has now become different. I have two beautiful girls that don’t necessarily fit into the stereotypes out there. Everywhere I look the other girls are tinier and seem to be enjoying life and eating whatever. Then at home, we are working through conversations and prayers answering questions about whether they are “too big” because they have heard those words or wonder why certain clothing styles don’t work for them like they do for other girls they are surrounded by. At times I am consumed by what I feed them and if they are making the best choices to be the “ideal & healthy” weight/size. Some nights I cry and pray “God is this a bad joke? Why did you give me two girls to struggle with this again when it is something that causes so much chaos in my own heart for myself? How can I make my girls understand the truth of His word when surrounded by the messages and lies in our faces everyday? But thankfully He is faithful. Each day is a new start and each conversation is a great opportunity for me to be real with my girls and share my heart and own struggles. Perhaps this is why He put me in this situation? Some days I share His truth with them and other days, He uses their words to bring me back to His truth. I can so relate to your advice of just greeting and acknowledging these lies. Even though some days the struggle seems so overwhelming, this is something I have felt God telling me to do as well. When those lies emerge I recognize them and think “yep. here it is” but I am having more days when I can just say “this is not it. I do not need to stay here. It is ok to struggle and be flustered but God did not intend for me to stay in this place.” When I’ve done that, I pray and ask for His help. Sometimes it is quick and other days it lasts and there are moments that feel like it won’t go away quick enough. Giving yourself a break and recognizing that God is the one who’s got it rather than leaving that pressure on me to fix it is such a relief. I am so thankful for this affirmation. We have a big God. So thankful He is bigger than all of my struggles 🙂 Thanks for sharing this post!

    • Wendy Herrmann Smith
      September 29, 2016

      No, Kristy, thank YOU for giving me a window into your struggle. Oh, sister, is this a pain in the neck or what? I have a daughter, too, and I want to fast-forward through her teen years sometimes. Thanks be to God for giving your daughters a mom like YOU who is willing to fight for them. I have felt some relief lately when I can say, “Here comes the Old Lie. Part of my brain still believes it. I was brainwashed well.” Knowing WHY I believe the lie makes it easier to invite it in. Yes, invite it in. Let’s have a drink. But guess what, Old Lie? The power you’ve had over me is waning. — May God give you rest, Kristy, that strengthens you for the battle. -Wendy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Body image quiz

Take the body image quiz here! 

(Read our privacy policy here. When you submit your email address you will be added to our mailing list. Unsubscribe anytime.)

Body image quiz

Take the body image quiz here!

(Read our privacy policy here. When you submit your email address you will be added to our mailing list. Unsubscribe anytime.)