Hello there and happy November! I'm glad you're back. If you're new to the Gritty Pearl, welcome! We're in the second week of a three-part discussion on intimacy and relationships. We were challenged last week with the issue of physical intimacy and married life. It can be a tender, sometimes nose-crinkling conversation, though it's hugely important to those of us maintaining marriages, or who are hoping to become married in the future. This week, we tackle body image and the ways that our insecurities can affect our relationships with the people who love us the most.
My husband tells me that he's gained a couple pounds. He turns first to the left, then to the right in the bathroom mirror. I personally can't see it. He's always been tall and lean compared to me. He admits for the first time that he's a little self-conscious, but I assure him that it'll fall off in a few weeks - just like it always has over the course of our marriage. I'm pretty sure that this is the first time he's ever worried about weight in his entire life. He's not the only one who worries...
Out of ten women:
Do you find yourself somewhere within the percentages of people who struggle? I've been there before and it all starts with our thought lives. Some of us are willing to tell ourselves things that our loved ones would never dream of speaking. We've been complacent in dealing with horrible thoughts that defile and degrade the bodies gifted to us.
There's a biting myth that we tend to believe: As long as our negative self-talk isn't hurting anybody else, then it's not a big deal.
Have you ever pardoned a nasty thought, shrugging off it off with an excuse? Maybe you just tried to put it out of your mind altogether. Let's consider this excerpt from the book of James:
"This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!
My friends, this can’t go on. A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don’t bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don’t bear apples, do they? You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you?" (The Message)
We. We're made in His image too. Not just everyone else around us. We're incredibly expensive creatures, bought by the blood of our Creator - fully God, fully Man - hung on the cross to save. Valuable. It seems clear cut, doesn't it? And yet, in the secret of the mind, we criticize, humiliate, and shame His creation. Yes, many of the things we tell ourselves are humiliating, not suitable messages for any living being to endure.
What begins in heart and travels through the mind, what escapes from the mouth - it ripples through relationships. Muddy thinking can't result in holy speech and connection.
What can we do instead of avoiding experiences that give fullness and meaning to life? How will we be able to confidently step into God's appointed relationships and purpose? Here's what we can do:
1. Not lean on our own understanding. (Prov. 3:5) We look the way we look, speak the way we speak, and attract the people that we attract for the glory of God. What He calls us to, He's built us specifically to accomplish. There's purpose in every crooked nose, wild strand of hair, and knobby knee.
"Beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace..," it says in Isaiah 52:7. We're built for connection, service, and to love others as He's loved us...regardless of our outward appearance.
2. Take every thought captive. (2 Cor. 10:5) Catch yourself in a painful, negative thought? Acknowledge it. Bid it adieu. Replace it with Truth over, and over, and over, again. "Making (that thought) obedient to Christ..." Until it becomes habit.
3. Put others before ourselves. (Phil. 2:3-4) "...value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others..," this verse reads. The people we love benefit from the healthiest, most accessible, loving versions of us. They long to connect to our peaceful, open-hearted selves just as much as we long to allow them access. The fear of being seen, judged, and the insecurity to be ourselves is a like a brick wall between hearts.
If you've struggled to accept your physical appearance and to take authority over your thought life, you're not alone in the battle.
I'd love to hear more about your story below.
With you and for you,
Photo cred: Averie Woodard
*Ohio State University and Glamour Magazine- Body Image Survey
M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy. Earns Crossfit participation trophies. Disaster cook. Enthusiastic wife. #Boymom. Clutches her faith, not her pearls.