My struggle with body image began at a very young age. I grew up in a dysfunctional family and was not taught about God’s unconditional love and acceptance as a child. As a victim of emotional abuse, I have struggled with knowing my own worth my entire life. My childhood experience molded me into an adult who struggles with believing that I must prove to others that I am worthy of their love and acceptance.
Essentially, I am a perfectionist, and striving to obtain a perfect body has always been a battle for me.
“Watch Your Weight”
I remember being eleven years-old when a family member told me that I was really going to have to “watch my weight.” This incident established the belief that I needed to be thinner to in order to be accepted and loved. I have spent my life dieting. Weight loss has been part of my focus since that tender young age.
During my adult life, I have weighed anywhere from 125 lbs to 225 pounds. The first time I lost a large amount of weight, I believed reaching my goal weight would suddenly transform me into a person who no longer worried about the acceptance and love of others. (Because when we are at our thinnest, how can we not be accepted and loved?) But the day the number on that scale read right, nothing changed. I felt better physically and was able to wear smaller sizes, but I still felt a deep longing for acceptance and love within my soul. As Heather would say, I had bought the “Biggest Loser Definition of Salvation.” I thought a better body would mean so much more.
Peace Without Perfection
Years of struggle lead me to a better place. I truly felt the acceptance and love that I had always longed for when I chose to surrender my life to God. By developing a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ, I was able to find the peace that my soul had searched for. God’s word has shown me that I was fearfully and wonderfully made in my mother’s womb. Although my family here on earth may have disappointed me, my Father in heaven will never leave my side. He loves me, no matter what my weight on the scale is. He shows me I don’t need to be perfect for Him to love me, He accepts me as I am and wants me to live in peace and joy.
Although I know that my maker loves me and accepts me unconditionally, I still find myself longing to prove to others that I am worthy of their acceptance and love.
I still battle with my weight.
At times, I allow myself to strive for body image perfection or “go on a diet.” I may lose a few pounds, but then fall off the wagon. I gain the weight back. Or, even worse, I will struggle and not lose any weight at all. When this happens, I enter into a shame cycle because I believe the enemy’s lies when he whispers to me that I am a failure because I cannot control my weight. I know that this is not what God wants for me. It takes prayer and focusing on my relationship with God to make my way out of that dark place.
When those of us who struggle with the fear of not being accepted allow ourselves to become slaves to perfectionism in order to prove our worth, we are no longer serving Christ.
Hope for the Weary
The ugly truth of it is that when I live my life trying to prove my worth to others, I only end up exhausted and feeling alienated. In the “trying to prove that I am the “best” rat race, I feel overwhelmed and drained. I will never be perfect. This battle takes my focus away from God and puts it on me instead, keeping me from enjoying my life. Try as we might, we will never be perfect mothers, wives, friends, or employees. Even if we achieve our perfect body, this will not provide our soul with what it longs for – intimate relationship with God.
There is hope for those of us who battle with perfectionism and body image issues. When we truly surrender these struggles to God, we allow Him to fight this battle through us. We are no longer in it alone. As we grow deeper in relationship with Him, we learn more about who we are in Christ. In Him we are set free from the bondage that body image perfectionism enslaves us to. We can savor the fact that nothing–no number on the scale, size tag in the closet, or body imperfection–can separate us from Christ’s love. (Romans 8:38-39).
Summer Mauney lives in sunny South Florida. She love to craft, bake, and spend time with her family. She’s passionate about good coffee and showing kindness to others. Read Summer’s posts here.