“Get Your Body Back” (post-pregnancy)

“Get Your Body Back” (post-pregnancy)

Image courtesy of scottchan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of scottchan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We’ve all heard it—“Get your body back” after having a baby.  It’s in the media.  It’s on the magazines at the check-out (usually criticizing or giving applause to the “success” of a celebrity that just had a baby).  The fitness industry feeds into it.  Comments are said from family.  The pressure is there.  Basically, it’s everywhere and frankly, it’s staring us in the face when we try (yet again) to try to slip those pre-pregnancy jeans on again (and they still don’t fit).  So it’s there, as plain as day, that after we have a baby, we think we have to do everything in our power to work on “getting our body back”.

But guess what mamas?  We need to let go of that pressure!  “Let it go, let it go…”  Oh wait, sorry, Queen Elsa gets me every time.  *chuckle*  Seriously though, LET IT GO!  Whew!

When I was pregnant with my daughter Jeralyn, my dear own mama encouraged me to slather on the creams and lotions to prevent stretch marks.  My thoughts were, “I didn’t try for 7 years to get pregnant to prevent stretch marks!”  And I didn’t use one cream.  Nothing.  Zip.  Nada.  None.  (And I had and still have no stretch marks even after having 3 babies—not sure why because I was gladly going to welcome them).

So I wonder what would happen if we all looked at our bodies after having a baby as a blessing instead of this thing we have to “get back”?  What if we remembered the miracle of a baby when we see those stretch marks?  What if instead of grimacing at our “extra-ness” after having a baby, we remembered those women who are doing everything in their power and spending a lot of money trying to get the blessing that made those extra parts?  I certainly didn’t care if I had stretch marks because I waited so long for my baby girl—and now I need to remember that when it comes to the weight and extra-ness department.

Ladies, YOU are blessed to have carried a baby!  God knit those babies in your womb!  And they were fearfully and wonderfully made!  We were made for this!

To be very honest, you may never get your body back.  Say what??!!  (Don’t make that face).

Personally, I never got my body back after having my daughter.  I tried.  I released all of the weight, but my body was still carrying a little pooch.  And then I still had that same pooch after having my son.  And that was after getting to what I believe is my God-given set weight.  And I’m pretty sure that once I am at my set weight again after having my second son, the pooch will probably be hanging around (quite literally—hope you can see the humor in this).  But you know what—that’s okay!  I would rather be free and be at my natural, healthy weight than chasing after skinny and worshiping some deaf, dumb, and blind skinny idol.  I am so done with all of that!  A diet will only make me gain it all back and more.  I don’t have the time or energy to obsess about some crazy exercise program (I just want to run, walk, hike and do the strength training my body enjoys (and needs)).  I don’t want to succumb to fasts, cleanses, shakes, or crazy exercise programs.

When the day is done and I know I’ve mostly eaten 0-5 (this isn’t about perfection) and I’ve moved my body in a way that it enjoys, then I know I’ve done what I can.  And if I still have the pooch, so be it.

I’ve actually heard of some women who don’t want to have babies because they don’t want to lose their body.  In a way, that makes me very sad to hear because children are a blessing from the Lord.  I’m sure any woman that’s been trying to have a baby for years would be like BRING IT ON.  And by “it”, I mean the stretch marks, the extra-ness, the pooch, etc.  I know this because I was one of them.  And it hurt my ears to hear women complaining about their bodies after having a baby because I so badly wanted a baby.

“You may have big scars, stretch marks, and loose skin that bothers you.  You might not have time to exercise the way you used to.  All of these things can be seen as an offense against us—against our bodies…our bodies are tools, not treasures.  You should not spend your days trying to preserve your body in its eighteen-year-old form…Motherhood uses your body in a way that God designed it to be used…But motherhood is what your stomach as made for—and any wear and tear that it shows is simply the sign of a well-used tool.  We are not to treat our bodies like museum pieces.  They were not given to us to preserve, they were given to us to use.  So use it cheerfully, and maintain it cheerfully.  When you are working hard to lose the baby weight (as you may need to), think of it as tool maintenance.  You want to fix your body up in order to be able to use it some more.  It might be used for more children, or it might be used to take care of the children you have.  We should not be trying to fix it up to put it back on a shelf out of harm’s way or to try to make ourselves look like nothing ever happened.  Your body is a tool.  Use it.”*

I read that recently in a book and it really stood out to me.  I’m in the thick of this.  I’m only weeks past having a baby.  So I get this.  It’s raw and real right now.  It’s so real that some of my shirts and pants don’t fit me.  Does this discourage me?  Yes.  Plain and simple.  Yes.  Has it brought on thoughts about going on a diet?  You bet.  These are truths I’ve been speaking to myself about it:

  • I’m 7 weeks post-partum—I need to relax!
  • Wear clothes that I feel good in—I may even need to buy a few things that are more comfortable in the meantime.
  • Enjoy where I’m at right now—enjoy the baby and stop focusing on my body, body, body.
  • Eat and exercise 0-5—that’s God’s perfect boundaries for me and the best maintenance plan!
  • The “extra-ness” is because a little miracle took place in my womb! I am blessed!
  • Diets fail 99.5% of the time! Only .5% of people have lasting success on a diet!  No thank you!
  • I am beautiful, loved and accepted just as I am!

I recently found this really great blog post talking about “getting your body back”.  It has great tips on how to stop buying into the message that we have to “get our body back or else!”  The media and our culture plays so much into what is deemed “acceptable”.  But it’s not about our outward appearance, it’s about our heart and who we are in Christ.  We are more than our weight, size, and body.

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Am I saying you shouldn’t want to release weight after having a baby?  No.  What I’m saying is, even after releasing the weight, you may not have the same body you had before your pregnancy—ever.  Or maybe you will.  But reality is, your body changes after having a baby.  And wouldn’t it be better to accept that (now) instead of trying to fight it, force it, and hate it into something else?

“Scars and stretch marks and muffin tops are all part of your kingdom work…So realize that your body is a testimony to the world of God’s design.  Carry the extra weight joyfully until you can lose it joyfully.  Carry the scars joyfully as you carry the fruit of them.  Do not resent the damages that your children left on your body.”*

Ladies, we have so much to be thankful for.  So when you look into the mirror and you see the marks left on your body because of having a baby, smile and thank the Lord because it’s a good thing.  They are signs of such beautiful blessings.  And then go kiss your baby (even if they have babies of their own).  And if you are one of those babies, thank your mama for bearing the marks to bring you into this world…and tell her that she’s beautiful and that you love her!

My little Baby Joel

My little Baby Joel

 

*Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic

So Long, Critic!!

 

Inner CriticI can’t remember exactly when the light went off in my head that even though I proclaim Christ Jesus as my Lord and Savior and am adopted into God’s family as His beloved daughter, that I was not living a life that reflected this truth. Oh, from the outside, you might not notice how I hid the pain and critical spirit inside. My pride made me put on a cheerful face. After all, I couldn’t let you see all the negative things I believed and said about myself. I think the song, The Tears of a Clown, was written for me. I am sure that my family and friends would cringe and really not believe the inner conversations I have had. After all, I don’t speak to them the same way that I speak to myself. God’s word tells me to live at peace with everyone so I’m going to be nice to you! Sadly, if you really looked at me, you would see that my excess weight was hiding pounds of pain and shame. And, if I really was paying attention to God’s word, I would have let go of my inner critic a long time ago.

You see, I have a little negative, inner, personal critic and she isn’t very nice. I say she is little, but she has a loud voice and she sounds just like me. I can be going through my day, having what I would call “a blessed day” and out of the blue, she starts in…“You don’t look very good today. The bags under your eyes have packed bags! Where did all those wrinkles come from? You had better get some anti-aging cream before it’s too late! You are so fat. Where did that extra tire come from? You’ll never lose that! Why did you wear that outfit today? You look so frumpy! No one who has it together would ever go out of the house looking like you do!” I don’t like that inner critic, but she has been around for most of my life so she seems like an old friend. She has been allowed to voice negativity in my life for so long that even though she is hurtful, she is comfortable. Why hold on to her when there is another Voice that I want to hear and listen to that brings life and light and healing?? I want to say, “Goodbye!!” to her. Can I face my fear of letting her go? The answer is a resounding YES!!

big book hwHave you heard that voice? Let me tell you how I silenced that critical, snide, scolding and negative voice and how I am releasing pounds of pain and shame. It all started with Facebook, believe it or not, and a Facebook friend and sister in Christ leading me to join a Hunger Within group.

I have tried a group like this in the past, but didn’t have any victory. I don’t know if it was because my little friend the critic was too loud for me to hear the message being taught. Or, more importantly, it could have been my disobedience and sin and deep seated shame that held me back. You may ask what got my attention this time; what is different?? I believe it is because God’s word is becoming alive and active in my life in a new way around my issues with excess food and weight. I have always believed Hebrews 4:12 which states that the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, and it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. But, the thing that was missing and is now found in my heart is the willingness to allow God and His word to penetrate into my food issues and the hidden false beliefs that made me run to food for comfort and to fill the void I felt in my life. God has always proved He is faithful to me in so many areas in my life but I had held the door to this area closed to Him with white knuckled fists. Then I reached that proverbial rock bottom. I had decided that I could not face another diet. I knew I would drop weight on a diet. I’ve done this numerous times before but the weight always came back with a few friends!! I was seeking more. My heart was seeking a permanent change. I wanted to be set free of the grave clothes that kept me bound in the tomb of denial that I could control my weight if I just found the right plan.

God loves meWhat have I found as I have let go of my inner critic? I have found a deeper relationship with my Father who loves me more than I could ever imagine being loved. I have found a deeper relationship with my Lord and Savior Who laid down His life for mine so that I could have life and have it more abundantly. I have found comfort in the arms of the Holy Spirit, Who comforts me in all of my troubles. And I have found a true and honest circle of dear sisters in Christ who walk this journey with me. I claim Hebrews 12:1-3 which says,

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

How about you? Are you ready to say, “So long critic!!”? Then take my hand and walk together with me and the One who loves us more than we could ever imagine.

 

 

Extreme Makeover – Soul Addition!

Extreme Makeover – Soul Addition!

Let’s be honest.  We all go thru times when we feel defeated, discouraged and tired.  We might feel like we should turn back to a diet.  I know when I feel this way, I tend to go right back to eating mindlessly because of this attitude. The Lord have shown me that when I start down this path of defeated thinking, my eyes usually are on my weight – that scale number- and then on my body- how it looks.  When this happens, I tend to experience shame over my body.  My focus is on ME!  ME! ME!

I was feeling this way not long ago, of all mornings, but Easter Sunday.  Yes, this day where we celebrate the most amazing thing Jesus did to prove His power, I was focused on how ugly I felt! I was focused on myself and didn’t even realize it. Then we sang a song that started to crack that shell of discouragement.

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As we sang that portion of the song over and over, a light began to seep into the darkness that was in my soul that day. It was just a preparation for what was to come next thru the words of my pastor.

The title of the message was “The Power of the Cross”

POWER. OVERCOME. JESUS.  That struck me.  Here I was sitting in my own puddle of discouragement and Jesus was gently telling me that HE has the power to do all things!

 

Matt. 28:18

All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.

I realized that I had been focusing on ME and not on HIM!  (ouch!) I had not been focusing on Jesus and His power. Right there, in the middle of the sermon Jesus whispered to my heart that He no only has, overcome  death- but He has also overcome this “living death” that is my shame!

Jesus has overcome

  • my body shape
  • my size
  • my scale number
  • my turning to food to escape or comfort
  • any and all strongholds
  • all of what society might think is beauty and acceptable

Right then I heard my pastor say that we all need to have anExtreme-Makeover-Background2_Shortened

“Extreme Makeover – Soul Edition”!! 

That is what I knew I needed.  That is what I need every day!

I had been focusing on getting  an

Extreme Makeover – “Please Can I at Least Look Good Enough to Not Be Considered Old and Fat?” Edition

My focus had been on my outward appearance!  Jesus showed me, ever so gently that He is doing a work in my heart.  I could let go of the outward appearance and surrender it over to Him to create in the way He sees fit.

Samuel 16:7

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.

Oh, I was taking furious notes in my journal that day in church!  I thought my pen might catch fire!  But Jesus was bringing a new fire to my soul.  Yes!  As I heard the pastor say “We need to not just KNOW about the resurrection, we need to EXPERIENCE resurrection in our life!”

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That was it.  I felt that day as if I WAS resurrected.  And each day I need to be resurrected in His newness of life.

Lord, help me to keep my eyes open to You and Your power.

Resurrect me!  

Give me NEW LIFE!

So, now I ask myself….am I denying (pushing away) His truth in my life by believing lies…these old lies about my identity….that being a certain number on a scale or a certain shape or size is the only way to be acceptable?  Lies about what he CAN and WILL do?

Oh dear Readers, may we all listen to HIS truth of who we really are! We are HIS CHILDREN who are dearly loved no matter our shape or size.  Let’s trust that HE can and WILL take us where we need to be in our outward appearance if we truly follow Him with our eating and our lives.

Amen.  May it be so!

 

God is Doing a New Thing

God is Doing a New Thing

God is doing a new thing in you. I keep saying this to gals in the current Hunger Within class that I am co-leading.  I believe it.  I see it and I am awestruck at how God is working in the lives of these dear ladies. I see ladies taking the truth of God desiring to release them from the obsession of food and weight issues and I see them laying down all the burdens that He never meant for them to carry. I wanted to understand this saying at a deeper level, because I know the truth of this is grounded in His word and it is a testimony to how He works in our lives as we surrender daily to His leading and guidance.

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We see in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that God’s word says if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come! At the moment when I accepted Christ Jesus as my Savior and as He grew to be the Lord of my life, I became a new person. I didn’t feel new, and since I was 9 at the time, I wasn’t quite mature in the word enough to understand what was happening to me, but I knew in my heart that I was changed. Jesus and the Holy Spirit became real to me. I felt the Holy Spirit’s hand on me even when I was rebelling in my youth. I knew that I knew that were I to die, I would have gone to heaven. He called me to be His, and from that point on, I had a reason to live and every dark time and trial I went through, He was right there with me, leading me and guiding me through them.

We also see in Ephesians 4:23-24 that God’s word says that we are made new in the attitude of our minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. So, what I understand is that we put on a new self, which means we have to take off the old self. What does that mean to me, personally? What do I need to take off so that God can do a new thing in me? I’m going to be painfully honest with you, dear reader. I am taking off:

  • The Deanna who was not loved by her mother the way she needed.
  • The Deanna who was abandoned by her dad (through death).
  • The Deanna who is a compulsive dieter, food binger and restrictor, bulimic with laxatives to make the scale obey.
  • The Deanna who was sexually abused as a young child.
  • The Deanna who searched for love in the wrong places on the way to finding true intimacy.
  • The Deanna who feels sorry for herself (even though she is greatly blessed).
  • The Deanna who wonders how God can use her with her insecurity that she masks with pride.

Wow, that is a painful list, but it isn’t the end, so don’t feel sorry for that Deanna. You see, God did a new thing in this gal, and she is not the same. The attitude of my mind has been changed and this is who I am today, with my new self put on:

  • The Deanna who is a forgiven child of God.
  • The Deanna who is a set free child of God.
  • The Deanna who has been adopted into God’s family.
  • The Deanna whose mind is being renewed daily by God’s word.
  • The Deanna who was not given a spirit of fear but a sound mind.
  • The Deanna who let go of fear because Christ’s perfect love being worked in her life casts out all fear.
  • The Deanna who is made holy by Christ Jesus, because He is holy.
  • The Deanna who is a loved child of God.
  • The Deanna who is held by and is held close to her loving Father.
  • The Deanna who is confident in His strength.
  • The Deanna who will not be shaken because she stands on the Rock.
  • The Deanna who is fed by the Bread of Heaven and whose thirst is quenched by Living Water.
  • The Deanna who is victorious.
  • The Deanna who Jesus went to heaven to prepare a place for so that she will be with Him for eternity.

God is doing a new thing…in me. I am embracing my new identity.  I am claiming what He has done so that I can let go of the old self that blocks me from Him. I am watching Him as He breaks down all those false “self-protective” walls I built up so that my life can reveal the glory of the work that the Creator of All is doing in my life. I am claiming all that He tells me I am through all He did for me so that I can discover a hope and power like no other.

Have you ever heard the story of Jacob and Esau? You can find it in God’s word in Genesis 25:27-34. Esau was willing to give up everything he had and everything he was promised for a bowl of lentil stew. I have been there. I understand.  I have tried to fill that empty place with a bounty of food. I have been desperate for outward signs. I have wanted the empty praise of man for what I appeared to be doing in my own strength. When I look at these lists that I have shared with you dear reader, I have to ask myself what I have been willing to give up of my true self for the insignificance of a bowl of lentil stew?

The truth? Deanna is not that girl anymore. Deanna is a Jesus following girl. Her Lord Jesus is authoring and perfecting her faith. She is loved by and loves her heavenly Father and is held and comforted and taught by the Holy Spirit. She is letting go of self-determination for being Spirit-determined. She is embracing her true identity. God is doing a new thing in her.

Will you join me in claiming your true identity? Are you ready and willing to see what God is doing in your life? Will you put your name in each statement in my second list and embrace the new thing God is doing in your life.

 

He Loves Me Despite My Struggles!

He Loves Me Despite My Struggles!

PicsArt_03-24-12.29.07Lately, I have really been dealing with some big and deep things in my life that God is wanting to heal. I have to admit that sometimes this causes me to turn to food or at least my boundaries get a bit loose. It’s hard for me to admit that I may not be releasing weight or maybe have even picked up some….especially since I write a weekly blog article on here AND I am co-leading a class!

But, I have to be REAL.  I am a REAL person who struggles just like you.  (sigh…isn’t THAT a relief?!)

So, dear reader, I wanted to share with you today what the Lord spoke so gently to my heart as I have been struggling. I hope it touches your heart as it did mine.


 

Oh My Beloved Child,

You search for Me, but I am not far away.  You long for My love for you as if you have to act a certain way, be a certain size or shape or just be someone else for Me to love you.

This is not so.

This is a lie.

Listen to Me now.

I….LOVE….YOU. aaa123

Right NOW.

THE WAY YOU ARE.

  • With every curve.
  • With every imperfection.
  • With every struggle.
  • With every breath and every step and every trip and fall.
I…..LOVE…..YOU.

Yes, I call You to follow me in everything You do. But I also know you don’t have it all together, yet. And that is ok.

If you had it all together and could follow me perfectly, I would not have given my Son for your redemption.

BUT I DID.  And He came. And He died.

FOR YOU.

See how I love you, my child?  Do you see?

Do you see how I have created You with love?  Just the way You are?

Oh my Child, I want what is best for you. That is why I call you onward to follow Me.1811317highres

And I lead you onward.  Forward. Into my arms.

Do you fall sometimes?  Do you skin your knee? Do you feel like giving up?  Do you feel like I’m not there?  or have stopped loving you?

Oh child.  Listen to me know.

I WILL NEVER STOP LOVING YOU.

I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU.

I WILL NEVER STOP.

So now, Dear One. Take my hand.  Just reach up for me.  Turn your eyes off of yourself and on to my eyes.

I am here.

I am waiting.

I will NEVER stop loving you, My Beloved One.

When I Stop Chasing Skinny

When I Stop Chasing Skinny

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If you’ve been following my posts in the last couple of years, you are probably familiar with my story.  I have had my  moments of serving the skinny idol.  Two out of three of my pregnancies have been while I’ve been on this journey toward freedom).  God has changed me and He’s shown me the truth about food.  And now…I’m SO excited…to say that He is doing something SO HUGE within me and I just want to shout it from the rooftop!  God is showing me what life is like when I stop chasing skinny.  I want to share some more of my story.

Side note: I realize that I write a lot about my story.  I could share the mechanics about how Thin Within works.  I could share a lot of things, but I believe there’s something powerful that comes from sharing our story and hearing others stories.  I hope my openness and transparency encourages you, wherever you are in your journey.  I know my story is unique.  I don’t have tons of physical weight to release, but I have had plenty of mental weight to release.  I’ve never had an eating disorder, but I’ve been tempted to not eat at my lowest point.  And I’ve had borderline signs of orthorexia.  And I know that there are those of you out there who can relate to my story.  I know this because you’ve reached out to me and shared your similar story with me.  I see these kinds of stories more and more and I know I’m (we) are not alone.  And if you don’t relate to my story, I hope you can find parts that you can relate to and that most of all, you will be encouraged to know that the same God who has freed me is the same God who will free you.  He is no respecter of persons.  He’s a good, good Father!

Isaiah 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

Recently, I found a publication that was very encouraging to me.  It’s called Thryve.  It’s an online magazine (although maybe it used to be in actual print at one time?).  I found out about it through a newsletter from Wonderfully Made.  Wonderfully Made is an organization founded by Allie Marie Smith (co-author of the book H.E.A.L.).  Allie wrote an article for the Mended issue of Thryve.  What she wrote resonated very much with that the Lord has been currently teaching me about letting go of this idea that I have to have the “perfect” body:

The problem is that, as we cling ever so tightly to the perfect version of ourselves, we are blinded by our own endeavors, to the cause and person of Christ.  In the process of gaining the whole world (in this case our perfect, ideal self), we forfeit our soul.  Chasing an ideal self leads to bondageResting in Christ leads to freedom.  By living for ourselves, we become enslaved and imprisoned.  However, by giving our lives to Jesus, we allow him to cleanse us of our addictions and show us the way to real life—a life free of destructive dependencies and brokenness.

I had been chasing skinny.  I had been chasing after my “ideal self”.  I had been captivated by the standard of the world instead of being captivated by Jesus Christ.

It’s interesting to me because last year my little word was “be free” and this year it’s “rest”.  Allie sums up what Christ is wanting to do in me with one sentence: “Resting in Christ leads to freedom.” Honestly, I was terrified to let go of skinny.  I remember the first time I read this truth written by Barb Raveling in her weight loss book study Taste for Truth: A 30 Day Weight Loss Bible Study:

Giving up the idol of skinny is essential for both our physical well-being and our spiritual well-being.

I did NOT want to give up skinny.  I felt like it was giving up and accepting an imperfect body (hello!).  I believed the lie that if I didn’t have that perfect, beach-body, sculpted, bikini-mommy body that it was less than what God wanted for me.  I really believed that my “ideal” body was what God wanted for me and that I was failing Him and myself and my family if I wasn’t achieving that.  It’s hard to even type those words, but that’s truly what I was believing.  I would read and hear about how in order to find freedom that I would need to love and accept my body right where it was at, but I didn’t want to let go.  I didn’t want to surrender and give up skinny.  I thought that accepting my body was giving up.

It’s funny because I don’t even know where this “ideal self” came from.  But I know the images I would see plastered all over weren’t helping.  Skinny is everywhere.  It’s held in high regard.  Shame is put on less than perfect bodies.  Culture paints a picture of what the “ideal” woman should look like and when we don’t reflect that image, we feel like a failure.  And then we diet and feel bad when we lose, gain, lose, gain more, lose, gain even more, and so on and so forth.  We set a goal for ourselves to BE that image.  We count, weigh, measure and become fitness fanatics—and we lose ourselves in it—and pretty soon we are serving that idol.  I was.  I was bowing down to that ugly thing and berating my body when it wasn’t living up to that standard.  Ugh.

I want to reflect Christ’s image, not the world’s image of “ideal”.

Lately, I have found courage through other women who have set out to encourage other women to be themselves, cellulite and all!  Allie says, “May you have the courage to break up with your ideal self and stop striving.”  The Lord is giving me courage.  And I want to give you courage to BE YOURSELF!  Be the person God has created you to be.  You are not less of a person because you don’t stand up to some worldly standard.  I feel courageous to LOVE myself and the body God has given me, accepting all of the parts of me—even the parts I used to scold and demand perfection from.  I know there’s a lot of pressure out there to be this “ideal self”, but there’s also a lot of encouragement out there to stop living under that pressure (and as I find more of it, I feel the pressure released more and more).

I want to be that brave woman who says NO THANK YOU to the skinny idol.  And I would love for you to join me.  Will you join me?

We will never measure up to the standards of beauty of this world.  I’m DONE trying to measure up to that.  How can we measure up when the opinions of beauty are constantly changing?  I’m also done paying the price of trying to live up to that standard.  It’s cost me my time and energy that I will never have back.  It’s distracted me from what’s most important.  It’s cost me money.  But praise God because He gives back what the locusts have stolen.  He gives us beauty for ashes.

Something I’ve had to do is look away from the images.  I’ve unfriended friends on Facebook, I’ve deactivated Facebook (for a season), and I’ve had to stop following feeds.  I’ve had to ignore the magazine covers in the check-out lanes.  I’ve had to stop asking the questions that would lead to diet talk.  I’ve purposely had to look away.  What feeds the image for you?  You have to stop feeding the idol and starve it.  You have to guard your heart and eyes from temptation.

Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.  Matthew 26:41

I will set nothing wicked before my eyes.  Psalm 101:3a

I really liked this article I read about one woman’s “cleanse” from the media’s display of skinny.  I had to stay away from social media for most of last year because it created such an issue and temptation for me. It’s really interesting for me to see that others have had to do the same thing.  So instead of thinking we need to “cleanse” by eating or not eating particular foods and/or diet, maybe what we really need to cut out is social media or anything that displays the image for awhile.  It can definitely feed the idol.

There was another article in the Thryve: Mended magazine that hit me right between the eyeballs.  This is from an article called So Glorify God in Your Body by Ashley Kirnan.  She says:

We are influenced to idolize the “perfect” body, yet as believers we are instructed to FLEE idolatry.

OUCH!!  When I read that, the Lord made it very clear to me that striving after the “perfect” and “ideal” body has been idol worship: worshiping skinny.  The skinny idol.  There it is…again!

So here God has created me…designed me…and I’ve been despising my body and ashamed of my body all because it doesn’t live up to some “perfect and ideal” standard!  Hold it!!  I am God’s MASTERPIECE!!  He says I am fearfully and wonderfully made!  Pretty much that says right there that I am beautiful and accepted and beloved—in His eyes!!  He sent His Son and He gave me life.  He saved me.  He purposely designed me.  He is enough for me.

Are you willing to starve this idol?  Are you willing to say NO and stop trying to conform to the image of this world?  Are you willing to be transformed by the renewing of your mind?  Are you willing to let go of the “ideal” and thank God for His masterpiece (that’s YOU!)?

This may be letting go of putting your hope in a diet or in hoping you will reach a certain size or weight that was never designed for you.  (I am not saying you won’t release weight, but for some, you are already at or very close to your God-given, set, ideal weight.)  This may be relieving the pressure you’ve put on yourself to eat a certain way, exercise a certain number of days a week or hours a day, or to fit into that dress/pants/swim-suit (I’ve had to do this—wear what fits and feels good on my body instead of feeling bad when a certain article of clothing may not).  And it may be accepting the love handles, your thighs, and how your body has changed after having a baby or getting older.  But it does NOT mean giving up!  What it does mean is taking that bondage, that heavy load, and laying it at the cross of Jesus.  That weight (bondage of the “ideal” and “perfect”) was never meant for you to carry.  You were meant for so much more—but it starts with you laying it all down and surrendering it.

And do you know what happens when you surrender?  Do you know what happens when you begin to love and accept your body?  You start to care for your body and honor the body God has designed.  You calm down.  You stop worrying about “skinny”.  You listen to your body.  You honor hunger.  You begin to eat in a calm environment–all of those principles of Thin Within naturally happen because now you love, accept, and care about your body.  You treat your body with respect.  You relax.  You stop demanding your body to shape up or squeeze into the skinny jeans you bought 3 sizes too small because they were on sale.

Will you join me?  Let’s do this!  If you are ready, let’s agree in prayer together:

Lord, forgive me for striving after ‘skinny’.  I’ve made it a god and I’ve worshiped it.  You are the One and Only God.  You are my Savior, my King.  Forgive me for comparing myself to others and trying to meet some “ideal” self.  Forgive me for trying to squeeze myself into the “perfect” body.  Help me to see my body as Your masterpiece and to be thankful for it.  Help me to let go of the mental weight I have carried for so long.  Make me whole and complete in you.  Help me know who I am in Christ. In Jesus’ name, amen!