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Today we’re going to be talking about facing off with our feelings and how to have a healthy body image. You can now get my book Face Off with Your Feelings on Amazon on my website. This book has definitely been a labor of love. One of the questions that I want to ask you is how free would you feel if your feelings didn’t get the final say in your life, but God’s Word did?

This is something that I have been passionate about because if you’re anything like me, maybe you’ve let your emotions take the wheel and you don’t know what is true or what is a lie. Maybe you’ve heard people say, “You just need to renew your mind and change your thoughts,” but you don’t really know how to do that. Maybe you just feel too busy to slow down. Or, maybe you believe you’re not worth the time, the effort, or the fight. Maybe you feel so overwhelmed that you just don’t even know where to start. I think sometimes we get so overwhelmed by hearing the phrase, “renew your mind, take your thoughts captive.”

My book is really a step by step to heal the tender places of our soul. It really teaches you how worthy you are of love and healing because of the good Father in heaven. Pick up your copy today because of everything in this series and even moving forward. I cannot wait for you to hear the series coming in the new year. Really, God wants you well, and your feelings matter because you matter to God. 

TRANSCRIPTIONS FROM THIS PODCAST EPISODE ARE BELOW

The three main things that we’re going to talk about today regarding having a healthy body image are this: 

  1. Where does being unhappy with your body come from?
  2. What do body image issues cause?
  3. What is a negative body image and a positive body image

Then we’re going to talk about how to have a healthy body image. It’s important to me that we lay a foundation first. That’s why we’re answering those questions we need to understand why are we doing what we’re doing. We can’t continue to change the fruit without ever addressing the root. 

how to have a healthy body image

Where does being unhappy with our body come from?

1. From the fall of Adam and Eve.

They were exposed, and they got a new set of eyes. They didn’t know they were naked until she ate the apple and Adam ate the apple. I think it’s important that they got a new set of eyes. They hid in shame. They now were aware that they were naked. So I think there’s this attack and there’s this fight against your body because of the fall, but also because of the Holy Spirit. Now God dwells inside of you, the temple, which is your body. So of course there are going to be attacks. Of course, there are going to be thoughts that come in from the enemy that make us unhappy with our bodies.

2. Comparing our bodies.

Our unhappiness with our body comes from comparing. This is really just a distorted view of a good body versus a bad body. 2 Corinthians 10:12 says, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with someone who commends themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves. They are not wise.” I love the second sentence in this scripture, “When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” When we go into comparison, we become not wise, there’s a different translation that calls us fools.

It’s not to shame us or put us in a corner. It’s the reality that comparison is not healthy for hearts. And I know that you know that. We talk about it often when we think of body image because we’re comparing what a good body is versus a bad body, to what society deems is good and bad.


3. When our bodies don’t do what we want them to do.

We believe that effort should equal our results. Whatever you eat or don’t eat, whatever workout you do, whatever workout you don’t do – you kind of go into this performance-based view. I want my effort to equal my results. And when it doesn’t, you become unhappy with your body, you become frustrated with your body, and you almost make your body the enemy. 

What do body image issues cause? 

1. We may experience tension in relationships, not wanting to do specific things like swimming, or wearing shorts. Okay, I think we need to be honest with ourselves. We would rather say no to an event or a family gathering or friends going out because of the way our body looks. We allow things like bathing suits or wearing shorts to hinder us from having fun and really experiencing joy in our relationships. So body image issues cause tension in relationships. Having a healthy body image will require us to ask for help and not be honest with ourselves and those around us.

2. We create an unhealthy view of food. When we think about body image, we really think about this idea of an unhealthy view of food. I had so many unhealthy views of food mainly because of diet culture. I think we can all agree that there are so many, “rules” that come with this industry. We start to label food as good, we start to label food as bad. When we do that, we start to cut so many things out of our diet or we become afraid to eat them because of the consequence that they could cause our bodies.

What happens is when we start to not eat those foods, we actually want them more, because we tell ourselves that we’re never going to it eat again. When we do that and we see it, and we’re around it, we want more of it. So we think about body image issues, we can also correlate that even with food. I want to make sure that you know your body’s not the enemy and food is not the enemy. 

Let’s talk about what is a negative and positive body image.

I have a couple of comparisons. So the first one is negative. We might say something like, “My body will always be this way.” A positive to that is, “I’m thankful where my body is and how it’s feeling.” A negative, “My body is gross and disgusting.” Positive to that, “I’m thankful I get to choose to nourish my body and take care of it.” Negative – “My body is against me.” Positive – “I’m thankful Christ is in Me and I in Him. He is not against me and neither is my body.”

It took me a while to learn this, but the way that I spoke about my body affected how I showed up in my body. It affected every mirror that I passed. How I thought I looked in jeans and in clothes changed, especially when I went through an intense healing season for about three years where I gained weight.

My clothes just didn’t fit right. I went up in size. I just want to remind you that it doesn’t matter what your definition of, “small” is or that you’ve gained weight or lost weight or whatever you think a body image should look like or a body should look like. Everyone is going to wrestle with negative and positive views of their body. And that is always an invitation from the Lord for us to be able to heal – heal the way we see our bodies, heal the way we treat our bodies, and really begin to address the root of the issue.

How do we really have a healthy view of ourselves?

Last year, I walked into our local sporting goods store and I just knew I needed some new workout pants. I picked up the size that I thought I was. When I tried them on I did “the dance,” but I didn’t get to shake and shimmy too long, because they did not really go up past my thighs. And I was like, “Okay, well, maybe the clothing industry just changed sizes. Maybe the size that I had was not the size that I’m used to. Or maybe they just changed how they made them.”

My mind went to, “Oh my gosh, what have I done? I’ve gained this weight, my thighs are bigger, this size doesn’t fit me – I almost immediately wanted to go into the extreme. I need to start working out more, I need to stop eating XYZ. This is terrible.” I had a momentary lapse of that fear that going into the extreme which is kind of my nature.

I spent the rest of the time in the store when my husband looked around and did his thing fighting in my head saying, “Jess, what does this really mean about you – the size, in reality? I was having to disconnect from reality and my feelings. The reality was nothing about the size indicated who I was. But my feelings were attached to, “Jess, you’ve let yourself go. What is wrong with you? I can’t believe you’ve done this. How could you do this?”

Again, I don’t think it matters the size of your body or the shape of your body. These thoughts are going to come for you. I walked out of the store that day with the bigger size pants. The reality is this – I went through 3 years of intense healing. Before that, I lived a life of exhaustion and hustling and being tired all the time and snapping at people. (All of which fed my distorted body image.) I’m on the other side. I might be bigger than I was. However, the fruit of that of where I am – I wouldn’t trade it for a smaller number.

I think the first thing when it comes to being healthy and having a healthy body image is this – we have to know the image we bear.

We’re image-bearers of Christ.

Therefore a proper relationship with ourselves starts with a proper relationship with God. I know that may not be the answer you want, but it’s the answer we need. Maybe you’re hoping that I give you a formula where you can just plug and play. But the reality is that the three things I’m going to share with you are the things that deal with our hearts. We don’t bear the image of the world, therefore we don’t live by its definitions or ideals.

That means what we believe to be a healthy body, which is usually equated to just being thin, does not equal the same way that the Kingdom or the way that God would see it. We don’t live in this world, but we’re a part of it.

We do not have to live by the world’s definitions or ideals. Galatians 3:2-28 says this, “For all of you who are baptized into Christ, have clothed yourself with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” One, I love that he’s talking about community as well. But two, I love that it’s about our identity. It’s about who we are in Christ, not the labels that the world gives us. 

Second, we need to heal from the words spoken to us and heal through the physical things.

Much of our distorted body image comes from our pain, and who spoke to us, or the things done to our bodies.  I think it’s important that we begin to heal from these words; we begin to heal from the physical things, which I know sounds so heavy because it is heavy. But these are things that we cannot ignore. Because we are an image-bearer of Christ and everything flows from our identity, not to it.

Healing from the words and the things done to you frees you and it makes you feel lighter in your body. Because here’s the reality – when the fall happened, they got a new set of eyes. Now they knew that they were in shame. They lived in that; they wanted to hide. But now that we are born again with Jesus, we now have a new set of eyes. We are no longer a slave to sin. We are slaves to righteousness. Having a healthy body image requires us to learn who we are in Christ before anything else.

Third, it’s not about performance.

When it comes to a healthy body image, I think we’re just looking at how much can we can do.

It’s not about how much you do to obtain the word of “healthy.” It’s about how you see yourself as a daughter of the king, aka our heart posture. Having a healthy body image doesn’t start with doing. It started with being. I talk a lot about this in my book Face Off with Your Feelings, how we often try to address the fruit of something without ever addressing the root. Maybe you have an unhealthy body image.

Therefore you might try to change how you view your body through what you do like extreme diet and exercise believing that if you lost the weight or your body looked a certain way, then and only then would you enjoy being in your body. We’ve made it about performance. All of that is just the fruit. It’s the external trying to change the internal and it might last for a moment, but it’s not until we change the internal does the external change.

Sometimes we are more concerned with finding the right diet or workout than we are with our relationship with God. My church is going through a relationship university and I love how Rick MacFarland said this, “God never called you to live the Christian life by willpower, but by the power and by putting your faith in the life of Jesus on the inside of you. He’s the vine you’re the branch and you draw upon him.”

John 15:4 – 5, “Abide in Me and I in you, as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him bears much fruit. For Without me, you can do nothing.” It’s about going back to identity and restoring our relationship with God. It’s about recognizing who we believe God to be. This is something I also go into in my new book Face Off with your Feelings. I talk about the identity effect, I do a deep dive into, “What is their identity? Where does it come from? And how do we actually begin to process and work through that?”

It starts with knowing our identity in Christ.

If you feel overwhelmed by your feelings, go pick up my book, Face Off with Your Feelings. We do not have to live as a victim. We don’t have to live as though God just is punishing us. These are lies. They are lies from the enemy that keeps us from healing. They also keep us from having relationships that are healthy ones of communication and understanding.

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