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I remember all the unforgiving and unkind words spoken over me. The girls who pointed out my thighs were too big for those shorts. The boys who laughed at the size of my rear, loud enough so I could hear. The “well-meaning” or “just teasing” comments made by relatives about the color of my skin, shape of my nose, or my weight in general.
I carry them all with me always.
They waft back to me on a gloomy breeze when I’m low and alone. When I’m questioning my identity and purpose. They whisper in my ear, bringing me further into the depths of self-scrutiny, further away from the light of God’s truth.
We live in a culture that criticizes and dismantles. We compare and dissect every person from head to toe. We covet the shapes and sizes of other’s hips and thighs. We live in a space of pervasive discontent with the bodies we’ve been given, regardless of the numbers on the scale or the letters on clothing label.
I don’t believe this is what God intended. Just like our brick and mortar homes, our bodies are gifts. Every hair on our heads is counted. We were stitched together in our mother’s wombs by omnipotent hands. And if this is the care and thought and power that goes into the creation of the bodies we inhabit, then I’m certain the Creator did not intend for us to spend our days longing for new ones.
The image I see in the mirror was chosen for my by the One whose image I bear in my soul. He is pleased with His creation, from gray hairs on my head to the calluses on my unpainted toes.
When I’m struggling to be content with this body, I reflect on these scriptures, and pray for gratitude and acceptance of all my various parts, as well as for worth and identity to be found in Christ, not my physical form. It can be a great weapon against negative self-talk and the disabling distraction of body-discontent.
Start with your hands on your head and work your way down, placing your hands on each body part as you meditate on these scriptures, thanking God for each piece of you, just as he created it.
“Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.” Proverbs 16:31
Lord, help me to see the changes in my hair, the aging of my face, not as signs of my decline, but as the markers of growth, well-earned wisdom and a celebration of years spent walking with you.
“Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
They are a garland to grace your head
and a chain to adorn your neck.”
“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
Cherish her, and she will exalt you;
embrace her, and she will honor you.
She will give you a garland to grace your head
and present you with a glorious crown.”
Lord, I may not love the reflection in the mirror. I may see uneven color, or sagging skin, but rather than dissecting the “flaws” before me and longing for changes in the appearance of my face & neck, help me to seek wisdom first. I ask you to place it as a garland to grace on my aging head, a glorious crown on my graying hair, and a chain to adorn my sagging neck, that I would remember the wisdom I seek when I see those body parts, and not the physical “imperfections” as defined by this world.
“Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.”
Lord, help me clothe myself in love & faithfulness. Let me remember that those are the things that will win me favor & good name in your sight and in the minds of others. Help my mind to stay intent on pursuing love and faithfulness, as if wrapping it around my neck and binding it to my chest, instead of bemoaning the state of my body parts.
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Lord, our culture focuses so much time and effort on physical strength, on toned shoulders and lean legs. Help me to release the burden of physical perfection. Help me to be grateful that you paid the price for my lack of spiritual perfection. Help me to live free of the burden of endless perfection pursuit, instead bearing an easy yoke on my shoulders.
“She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.” -
“She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.” -
Lord, I pray that you would switch my focus and fear from how my arms look in a tank top, to what my arms are busy doing. Help me find the beauty in the duty they fulfill, working at the tasks you have called me to, opened up to love and minister to others. That is the beauty in my arms, not their shape and muscle tone.
“Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.”
Lord, true health and nourishment to my entire body and soul comes from your wisdom and truth. I pray that fearing you and shunning evil will be my heart’s desire, and that I will see the great health and nourishment it brings me, despite the pressures of the world to pursue “health” for vanity and praise.
“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”
Lord, more than anything help me be at peace with my body. Please release me from envy of the hair, face, skin, abs, arms, legs, thinness, tanness, physical “perfection” of others. You stitched me together in my mother’s womb. You chose my shape, my DNA, knew how I would develop and age through every stage. Please help me to be at peace with this body, so that I might find life, and protect me from the envy of others that might rot my bones.
Marie Osborne is a wife, mom, coffee drinker, loud laugher, & Jesus follower. When she isn't laughing with her husband, texting with her girlfriends, singing with her preschooler, or chasing after her toddler twins, she's probably writing at her blog while binge watching Netflix.
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