The “Questions” series continues today with this great, and practical, question:
What are some practical strategies for handling body image flare ups — like when you are struggling in the dressing room, or at an event where you feel suddenly unattractive because of all the beautiful people there, or maybe when you’re tempted to either return to diet bondage or to return to food to nurse your wounds because someone has made a hurtful comment. I do better at home when I know I can go to my room for a minute and pray or slow down and choose different thoughts, but when I’m out or in the midst of the busy, it’s a bigger challenge. What are your thoughts?
M – Oregon
Oh goodness, I know well what you are talking about. I can go for what feels like a long while without thinking like my body, and then, all of a sudden, a commercial will come on television or I’ll see a billboard with a woman of “certain proportions” on it and immediately think, “Okay, my diet starts tomorrow.”
Old thinking habits are hard to break!
But, just like with any bad habit (or sin pattern)–it’s easier to think about handling the challenge when we address it for what it really is: Temptation.
Our struggle is really just a temptation to (gulp) sin.
When I see that billboard woman, I am tempted to believe the lie. One that says she’s happier than I am–she’s more secure. The lie says she has joy and everything I want because she looks smokin’ hot in a bikini while I have a flesh that pudges and cellulite that’s never going away.
I’m tempted to believe that she has a truer salvation than I do–that her beautiful body is saving her.
But truth is, that’s sin.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. I don’t think you are sinning when you have that first, gut-instinct thought. I think that’s the temptation. That’s the bait on the hook. You see it, then you have to decide if you’ll take the bait.
So, what to do when you are out and about–when you are busy with kids and life and stuff–and the thought (temptation) comes? How do you stop it?
I think you use the same techniques that we learned in elementary school for evading fire. You: Stop, Drop, and Roll. (Please forgive me for being cheesy–but I wanted to give you strategies in a way that would be easy to remember!)
Stop: Take a mental pause (even if your body must keep going) and remind yourself of the truth. Your size is not where your value is found. Your identity is firmly rooted in Jesus. Chances are, that woman (or those women) with whom you are comparing yourself physically are likely just as worried about/frustrated with their appearance as you are with your’s sometimes. But, you don’t have to compare yourself anymore because looking a certain way is not where your worth comes from. Your freedom comes from looking up, not from liking what you see in the mirror.
Tip: Sometimes I take a minute and pray for the beautiful woman in the picture–when I pray for her, she becomes human again and I am forced to stop objectifying her (i.e. only judging her for her body) and to remember that she has a heart, soul, emotions, and (likely) problems–just like I do!
Drop: So, if you are busy you may not be able to actually drop to your knees — but say a little prayer, wherever you are, whatever your position. Call out the temptation and identify the liar. Ask God to protect you from the lies and to remind you of his truth. Quote scripture (like Jesus did when he prayed in the face of temptation!). James 4:7 says to, “Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee.” Submit first. Resist second. Then he must go.
Tip: Often I will just repeat this statement. Dear Lord, please remind me of your word and my worth because of Jesus, today. Help me to overcome this temptation to believe the lies and to turn my focus away from you and onto finding worth in my body’s appearance.
Roll: (Don’t worry, I don’t mean any physical action with this one–unless you want to do a fancy forward roll, then don’t let me stop you.) Instead, I want you to picture yourself rolling those negative thoughts (those lies of the enemy) right out of your brain. If you are the more aggressive type, then view yourself holding a rolling pin– chasing them out of your brain. Our negative thoughts tend to build like a snowball. So, take whatever mass has accumulated–those lies that you better lose weight, change your look, get that “thing” fixed, whatever they may be– and roll them right away with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Tip: Replace those negative thoughts with Biblical ones about your value and worth. Don’t just leave empty space there–mentally. I like 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold the new has come” as a reminder that my old life of dieting, body image obsession, and stressing about my appearance 24/7 is over!