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 bondage. Resting 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!
Amazing Blog! Thank you!!
Thank you, Deanna!
Wow. I needed that. And I needed it worded like that. Thank you for sharing your story and resources.
Nicole, so glad this was encouraging to you! Praise God!
Love this blog post!! Thanks Christina!! I needed to hear all of this!! ♥
Thank you, Janet! I’m so glad this post was something that resonated with you. 🙂
Thank you. This was awesome!
Thank you, Dawn! God is so good!
What are the studies you have done that helped most? I have all of Barb’s books, TW and the workbook, also HEAL. I’m checking out the online mag you refer to as well. I just feel like I never follow through and finish any of them. I need to.
Thank you for sharing. You’re someone I’ve sought out on TW ?Just can’t think of a better word. I just find you SO relatable. The paleo pull, cutting sugar, all the things you’ve written have spoken to me so much. I love how you are so willing to share and it has helped me so so much. I am letting go of the idol I’ve followed – my perfect body, perfect diet, perfect workouts. It is so consuming and I know God didn’t create us for that. I’m printing this post to read again. Thank you thank you!!
Melissa, thank you so much for your comment! So glad this encouraged you! Praise God! The studies that have helped me the most are Hunger Within (it’s a book I often go back to read–especially the chapter about addiction), all of Barb’s materials (especially Taste For Truth, I Deserve a Donut, and her new Renewing of the Mind Project book). I think it’s okay not to finish some of the material. Sometimes we just needs bits and pieces of different reading material to digest for awhile and then we can read more later. It’s okay! I think the most important thing is that we are applying what we’ve read. But even in the application, it can take time. Renewing our mind is the most vital part of this journey because it’s the Lord who transforms us. And those resources have lots of truth to help steer us back to God’s truth. Praise God for that! I’m really glad you find that you can relate to my story. I know so many are caught up in the bondage of the skinny idol and I want to be an encouragement to others. The Lord has shown me to encourage others as He has encouraged me. Keep pressing into the Lord, Melissa!
Thank you for all of the info!! I have all of those resources and will begin reading and doing them again. I use the I deserve a donut app a lot, too. Thank you so much for the encouragement. I don’t feel so alone with you here!
Melissa, I’m so glad you don’t feel alone. You are totally not alone! And you have Jesus–and He understands!
Thank you, Christina, for sharing this post with me. I know I have a deep, aggressive war awaiting me once I give birth to our little one. A spiritual battle not against flesh and blood, but against an awful, deceiving enemy that wants to paralyze me from living a life that reflects Christ, from following fervently His great plan for my life for His glory.
Your words hit home for me:
“I had been captivated by the standard of the world instead of being captivated by Jesus Christ.” ~ why am I so easily lured in by what this world offers me, instead of the abundant life Christ offers me freely?
Oh Lord, forgive me. and transform me. and remind me to renew my mind, and pray without ceasing – ’cause that’s where I will find freedom.
Thank you again friend for reaching out to me!
Praying for you on this journey to freedom; praying for you as a mama of three little ones! May our great Lord continually guide you to His life-giving Word, and may you find joy and strength in Him alone day after day (hour after hour).
Nicole…wow, thank you so much for sharing! And I love you too! I know the Lord will help you with this battle! Stand upon HIM! Don’t go back to bondage. Be captivated by Jesus! And I’m here to encourage you! One thing I’ve noticed since having a baby 6 weeks ago is that I don’t look at my body in disgust and wonder when I will “get my body” back. And when I realize that I can love and accept my body where it’s at, I feel SO FREE! It actually makes me feel super excited knowing that I can love/accept myself at any moment because the Lord accepts me and loves me at every moment. I think what it really comes down to is being content where we are at and giving it to the Lord. It’s like a type of surrender. It’s coming to the honest place where we can say, “Lord, if I never have _____, I will be okay because I have You. You are enough for me.” I’ve had to learn that over and over again in my life, and I knew that I would have to say the same when it came to striving after being skinny, but I didn’t want to give it up. But now I feel more content. And as Joyce Meyer says, “I’m not where I want to be, but thank God I’m not where I used to be.” And I’m saying that in terms of…I haven’t arrived. The Lord has more transformation work to do in me because the thoughts still try to come up or they do come up occasionally. BUT they are much quieter than ever! Praise the LORD! I feel more free than I ever have in this! The Lord gets all of the glory, honor and praise. So Nicole, keep pressing into Him. Pray. Journal. Renew your mind. Ask for prayer. I’m here if you need to talk! And I’m praying for you! Enjoy your baby and when you are 6 weeks post-partum, think of what I’m saying here and thank the Lord for your body that was able to go through this miracle of having a baby. Thank Him then (and now) for all of your body parts that had the blessing to change because of having 2 babies! We were meant for this, right? God equipped us to have these babies and what they left on our bodies (stretch marks, things being more “poofy” or full, etc) are blessings! It means that a little baby was growing inside of us and that the Lord blessed us to be a mother. It’s so incredibly awesome! So keep walking toward freedom! 🙂
Christina, sorry so late in writing this, but congrats on the newborn! Thanks so much for sharing! Your words are inspiring to women of ALL AGES! Oh, and TY for adding the Orthorexia link! Not many are aware of what that is, and I was going down that avenue myself at one point. I’m thankful to Jesus that he removed that lie from my heart:) Bless you and your family!!
Mar, thank you! I think Heidi was the first person to tell me about orthorexia and I had no idea it was even a thing. And I’m praising God that He removed that lie from your heart!
I want to print this and pray that God deposit this message deeply on the table of my heart! Christina this was so spirit led! Thank you for your obedience.
Carletta, it was so good to hear from you! I’m praying the same for myself!