Originally published Friday, 08 January 2016.
With the arrival of 2016 comes the chanting of change. Everyone has new goals, motivations, and mindsets. Some of these resolutions sit on the side of spiritual matters, but most are about health and wellness. Or, perhaps we should we just get real and say we dream of smaller waists and department store dressing room experiences that won’t leave us dissolved in tears.
And before I carry on with what I feel necessary to say, let me first confess that I, too, am on a diet. I’ve gained several pounds over the last couple years and though it’s been fun to hang out with my two pals, Ben and Jerry, I need to implement some discipline.
As I’ve been scrolling my social media pages and reading about what others are doing in their causes for change, I can’t help but think some people are so wrapped up with who they need to become, or what they need to be better at, that they tend to forget who they are now and what they’re already great at.
You see, I’m a big believer that God grants us each purpose and gives gifts to enable us to fulfill our callings. If we’re not careful, too much change and spotlight on what makes us miserable can lead to distraction from doing what we’re called to do.
Just to be clear, I’m not speaking of goals such as ridding ourselves of certain behaviors that cause sin and ugly consequences in life. I’m talking about goals that cause so much focus on us that we forget about looking at Him.
And just so none of these words backfire on me, let me also say that taking care of our bodies is important because God gave them to us. However, many, and yes, I’m pointing the finger at myself, tend to become too negative about what we see in the mirror. Here’s an example of my own issues, but let me first set it up with an important scripture…
Strength and dignity are her clothing and her position is strong and secure; and she smiles at the future [knowing that she and her family are prepared].
-Proverbs 31:25 (Amp)
To be very honest with you, I spend a lot of time standing in my closet trying to figure out what I’m going to wear. I ask myself questions such as, what’s going to make me appear smaller? Can I get away with stripes without looking like a plus-sized prison model? How much of myself can I cover without appearing to make some kind of religious statement?
In the giant picture of life, my clothes and the way I look inside them mean nothing. I suppose it’s possible people will judge me by what I choose to wear and how much I weigh, but truthfully, most of the pressure I feel comes from me.
In light of this, I’ve been meditating on the above scripture and asking myself some questions. I would like to ask you the same questions.
When was the last time you considered yourself clothed with strength and dignity? Is your position strong and secure? Do you smile at the future? Are you prepared?
In my own life I can tell you that I’m stronger than I ever thought possible, not because I chose to be, but because I had to be. I’ve been through the hard muck and mire of struggle, and so far I’m still standing. I know you understand where I’m coming from because we all endure trials. You know as well as I that it’s through Christ alone that strength is granted.
If you have small children, you will probably relate to the following analogy. On school mornings I help my little ones dress and get ready for the day. Yes, they are old enough to do everything themselves, but in the quiet of morning when the sun itself is still resting and sleep needs wiped from our faces, my littles give me one leg at a time as I help them slide into their clothing. I picture Jesus doing the same for me. “C’mon sleepy head, you can do this”, He utters as He clothes me with strength. He whispers all the encouragement I need as He patiently covers me with everything required to face the day.
Dignity is another animal all together. According to Merriam Webster, dignity is a way of appearing or behaving that suggests seriousness and self-control. It’s the quality of being worthy of honor or respect.
I admit I’m much too serious at times; I’m working on more self control, but honor and respect… well, I can’t look at myself under that light. Honor and respect are for Jesus and others, not me. Can you see my issues? I just wrote them out in black and white.
I always want to fix everything about myself. I’m rarely satisfied with what I’ve done, because I always think I can do better. Unfortunately, many times, this places my eyes on me and takes them off Christ. I don’t like admitting that, but it’s true.
Why is it that when we think of ourselves, or look in the mirror, we tend to focus on who we are without Christ rather than who we are with Him?
The whole point of Christianity is receiving a God who gives grace overflowing and mercy abundant. We can be free when we choose to repent, love, and obey Him. In the moments we are most vulnerable with a heart bent towards Christ is when our position is truly secure. It’s then we can smile at the future, because our future is in Him. He clothes us with strength and dignity, no matter what our sizes, and we look fantastic wearing it!
So as all these thoughts are swirling around in my head tonight, and as I resist the ice cream in the freezer that refuses to stop calling my name, let me say this:
When you look in the mirror, remember who you are with Christ and stop seeing yourself without Him. He loves you with an everlasting love. Don’t beat yourself up, change what’s necessary, but focus on Christ in the process. Fulfillment comes from being clothed with strength and dignity, NOT a smaller jean size or anything else that removes the attention from Him.
And here’s one other thing we all need to remember:
The lines we wear around our eyes, the scars from accidents, death, and destruction, they are good gifts because they’ve ushered the working power of Christ in our lives. They’ve allowed Him to move in us and clothe us with strength and dignity, which opens our eyes to the wonder of His beauty. HIS BEAUTY. And when we’ve accepted Him as Lord and Savior, that same beauty resides in us.
If you want to diet and exercise, go for it! I am! Just don’t forget the beauty you already hold. And please remember, you hold that beauty because Christ holds you. Friend, He’ll never let you go.
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