Maybe it was one too many holiday dinner parties or those extra calorie-rich culinary treats that leave us feeling a bit more vulnerable to the weight-loss advertisements that bombard us this time of year. 'Tis the season, right? Or maybe, like me, you tend to struggle with body image in a world that's hyper-focused on our physical appearance. It makes no difference if you feel this on occasion or have felt this your entire life. I've gathered some meaningful Bible verses that speak to me about loving my body. Hopefully, they will help you too.
In the face of day-to-day decisions, I often ask, What would Jesus do? In this case, I ask, How would Jesus weigh in? (Pun intended, of course.) In John 8:23, he says, "You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above. You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world." The verbiage here couldn't be any better. Above (not of this world) is what I'm reaching toward, and this verse reminds me that if I really want to live like Jesus, I have to deal with any ego-like (below) obsessions such as putting too much emphasis on how I look. Jesus was able to see beyond appearances; he loved everybody.
Psalm 139:14 says, "I praise you because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works! My very self you know." God created me in His image. Each and every one of us is fearfully and wonderfully made. So if I am disrespecting my body, then aren't I really just disrespecting God? Therefore, loving myself is a top priority because God loves me. When I remember this, I can concentrate on the things that truly matter and live out my ultimate purpose: serving and loving others, including myself.
So, instead of doing some drastic diet or taking on an extreme workout routine, I will be more mindful of my choices. I don't need a quick fix; they rarely work long-term anyway. I will enjoy my meals and savor my exercise routine. I will befriend my body instead of belittling it or comparing it to another. As 2 Corinthians 4:16 promises, "Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day." How can I renew myself? First of all, I can forgive myself for letting this obsession take root. God has already forgiven me. Second, how do I feel the Spirit working day in and day out? I can pray more and meditate on God's words, so I can keep the Holy connection clear and listen to what the Spirit tells me.
1 Samuel 16:7 offers this up. "But the Lord said to Samuel: Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature because I have rejected him. God does not see as a mortal, who sees the appearance. The Lord looks into the heart." There's a message in this verse to help us overcome the onslaught of messages we receive telling us how we are supposed to look. It helps me to avoid judging myself - and others - based on how I look. That's not how God views us. We are called to look deeper, into the heart, and that is my goal.
Finally, 1 Corinthians 6:19 says, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?" This verse evokes a passion in me to take care of my body, this temple, so that I may continue to do God's work and live for His glory, not mine. The gift of the Holy Spirit within me humbles and prides me all in one fell swoop. How can I live a life worthy of such a gift? I can start by trying to set a good example for my granddaughter, Ellie, and others I come in contact with by loving myself and others, flaws and all.