These past few months have been tough for me. As I battle between wanting to find true beauty in my body and wanting to be thinner, I have come to the realization that I often genuinely fear gaining weight more than I long for freedom. Whether it is freedom from a lifestyle centered on food and body image or freedom in knowing what my identity in Christ looks like, I still let the fear of gaining weight, or wanting to lose it, consume me. But even as God is faithful to continue pulling me closer to Him, wanting to strip away this familiar fear, life still feels hard and painful. Sitting in a place of brokenness is uncomfortable and often overwhelming.
It reminds me of a story C.S. Lewis tells in his book Mere Christianity about a toy tin soldier. He describes wanting to turn a toy into a real-life, breathing little man. However, the toy solider doesn’t quite understand what that means, and he desperately wants to hold onto his tin and the life he knows. He imagines his tin transforming into flesh as painful. He doesn’t know what it means to have real life, so he fights for control and wants to be left alone. It isn’t until he takes his first breath as a real-life solider that he will understand what it means to be fully alive.
I have lived life trapped in a restrictive diet and exercise pattern for so long that trying to walk in freedom can be very scary. I don’t know what real freedom in this area looks like yet, and the journey is brutal sometimes. The question I keep circling around is this: Is it possible to walk in freedom, while still trying to lose weight?
In my quest to answer this question, here is what I felt Christ asking me to consider:
What is your motivation?
Are you trying to lose weight because you are afraid, or are you motived from a place of self-love and care? Fear cannot be your motivating factor because fear is bossy and mean, and it will throw you into the arms of control and failure every time. A desire to lose weight that is motived by Godly love for yourself coupled with grace and compassion is a much healthier option. You have to see yourself as a whole person, made up of mind, body, spirit, and soul, not just a body. Some days, the needs of your mind and spirit will mean you don’t work out or eat all the “right” foods. Love and grace allow you to listen to what you, as a whole person, need; fear will not. Check your motivation and you will uncover the truth about what is really in your heart.
Can you find beauty in your body right now?
If you don’t feel like you are worthy, beautiful, or acceptable at your current size, you won’t magically feel that way when/if you lose weight. Christ’s love for us is not conditional and your love for the woman He created you to be shouldn’t be either. If you’re uncomfortable at your current weight, there is nothing wrong with wanting to change that; but first you must find beauty in who you already are. You have to believe that if you never lost another pound, you are still beautiful, worthy, and acceptable, not because of what you look like or how much you weigh, but simply because you are His. There is much beauty to be found in who you are right this minute. Dare to see beauty outside the box of worldly standards and ask Christ to show you what beauty in Him really looks like.
Are you walking in the flesh or the Spirit?
Romans 8:6 says, “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” If your mind is set simply to fleshly desires and this current life, you will always live as a slave. Following the Spirit means no longer being enslaved by flesh and fear, but living as a daughter of Christ. His Spirit testifies with yours that you are His child. Do you truly desire to live a life united with Christ, focusing on what really matters, or are you looking for earthly gain and glory?
I mentioned that I came to the realization that I fear gaining weight more often than I long for freedom. Sisters, for so long fear has been my motivation. I have struggled with finding beauty in myself as I am. I admit my desire to be thin has often led me down fleshly corners, living as a slave to exercise and food restriction. So I have been down on my knees praying. Praying that I can approach food and exercise from a place of love instead of fear. Praying that I can find beauty today, and allow my mind to be governed by His Spirit, not my flesh. It is so hard. I feel like that solider most days, holding on tightly to my tin, fighting against the unknown. But I will keep working towards freedom. I will not stop praying. I will not stay in this place, and I pray you won’t either.
Wanting to lose weight is not a “bad” desire. If, however, we don’t ask ourselves these questions, then no matter how much weight we lose, we will never find peace in Christ and experience the freedom our souls really long for. So answer truthfully, and ask Christ to come alongside you as you fight for more than a smaller pant size! You are worth it, sweet sister. I am praying with you always!