Have you ever wished you could read someone else’s journal? Not to be a creeper or anything. . . but just so you could know that you aren’t the ONLY one who thinks the way you do? Today a very brave reader friend, Shannan, is allowing us to do just that. She felt like God was leading her to take action on her body image issues over Lent. She contacted me and said she was going to journal through her experience and so I asked if I could share it with you all. Here are entries from the first eight days. I think you are going to find you can relate to a lot!
Day 1. On day one, God led me to the Compared to Who page and I was immediately inspired by everything I read. I decided to reach out and send Heather a message about my journey. She asked in one of her messages if God had called me to give up mirrors or my scale. In that moment, God spoke to me through her. My entire life has been slave to a scale. It is the central fixture in my bathroom. I could go days without standing on it but it was always there, always taunting me, always begging me to stand on it to see what today’s number would read. On my bad days, I would stand on that thing five or six times a day. It had the power to change my mood in an instant depending on the fraction of a pound difference I would see. If the numbers went up, I would immediately feel devastated, like I was a failure. When I would exercise or run, I would immediately jump on the scale to see how much water weight I lost. You can imagine how hard I was on myself going through the weight gain of four pregnancies. I gained a total of 250 pounds over 4 years and lost 215 between pregnancies. Looking at it now, I see how crazy this obsession was. Even still, the thought of getting rid of my scale scared me. Could I really do that? Could I really not care what that number said? Then I remembered that God knew I could-so I got rid of my scale. It was a very scary yet freeing moment when I realized that how my clothes fit and how I perceived my own image was more important than that number.
Day 2. Stopped myself from saying negative things about myself out loud. I am extremely guilty of making jokes at my own expense. I also stopped rejecting my husband’s complements. Instead of my usual response of “no I am not” to his “you are so beautiful” compliment, I started saying thank you. I have had to catch myself several times but I am doing my best to stop speaking negatively about myself.
Day 3. I have struggled with feeling selfish for making these next 40 days about me. I felt like I needed to focus on others and that my problems were insignificant compared to things others close to me are facing. In talking to a friend, she tells me that Jesus cares about me too. Jesus wants me to be okay too. These words really stuck with me and it is something I need to keep reminding myself.
Day 4. God has shown me that even though I feel like I can do anything, doesn’t mean I need to do everything to prove my worth. Who I am is not based on what I do. Feeling like a failure for not handling and doing everything had a direct effect on my self-esteem. Part of today’s journey for me was to give up a huge commitment I made three months ago. The people involved did not follow through with their part and it reflected badly on me. I was determined to take the entire project on by myself (because I knew I “could” do it) but that meant giving up much more time and energy than I originally agreed to. Today I stepped completely out of my comfort zone by letting that go and being perfectly okay with it.
God has shown me that even though I feel like I can do anything, doesn’t mean I need to do everything to prove my worth.
Day 5. I woke up hungry. I usually do not eat breakfast as it is the easiest meal for me to skip every day. Realizing this contributed to my being a slave to my body image, I vowed to make healthy choices and eat when I am hungry.
Day 6. Today was very emotional. I felt overwhelmed by everything going on around me. I wondered why God would pick “now” to address this issue in me. He spoke. He told me that the only way He could really get to my heart and have the relationship He longed for with me was by peeling away the layers of lies told to me by the enemy all my life. Each lie I chose to believe or hang on to placed a wedge between Him and I. Every time I felt “too fat” or felt “not good enough” or “not pretty enough” or “not worthy enough” allowed the enemy in my heart rather than God. I prayed God would show me how to use His words when I struggled the most. I know it won’t be easy but it is the only way I will ever really be free.
Day 7. Today was busy. I was busy with the kids, busy with school, busy cleaning the house. It was hard to be intentional today. I think I attempted to tell God I could handle today on my own. I was wrong!
Day 8. Today I struggled. I felt doomed from the moment I put my pants on. They fit a little snugger than I remembered a week ago. All of the sudden I started thinking about the scale. I started to literally freak out that I must have been gaining even more weight. I started obsessing over the summer months coming and how bad I was going to feel if my clothes didn’t fit. This was the hardest day on my journey so far. I kept trying to redirect my thoughts but it just was not working in the craziness of the day. My first bit of quiet time, I prayed. I prayed for strength. I prayed God would show me a healthy way of taking care of me without obsessing over it. I had been so busy with school and family that I started to lose my focus. I needed to continue to be intentional even on the quiet days when God was not talking. I took a Sharpie, went in the bathroom and wrote in huge letters on my mirror “Jesus loves you just the way you are.” Every time I go in the bathroom, I will focus on loving me and not staring at the empty space where my scale used to be.
Shannan lives with her husband and four children in Michigan. She is a stay at home mom who is finishing up her degree in psychology. She enjoys running, sunshine, and quiet moments with God. (When the kids will allow it!) She has a passion for God, her family, and for helping others overcome challenges and hurts in their lives.