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Body,  Soul

Breaking Free From The Perfect Body

The Lord has been doing something incredible in my life this year. After all the trauma I’ve suffered during the last seven years, I find it very difficult to make plans or set goals. It feels as if all the plans I’ve made and dreams I’ve dreamt were in vain. This is frustrating for a goal-driven [recovering] perfectionist, but repeated trauma changes every part of you until you hardly recognize yourself – literally and figuratively. The only resolution I could muster as the clock struck 2022 was to pray to God for healing – healing in my mind and spirit, but mostly, healing in my body.

God was listening.

Unlike any other season in my life, this process has been unmistakable. I feel as if the Holy Spirit has been waiting for me to get out of the way to do things in my mind and heart that would forever change the way I see my body.

I have finally done things I’ve always wanted to do but was putting off until I’m thinner or happier with myself. These include a make-up class and a wardrobe workshop that has already changed how I look at my body daily. However, I was still striving to be thinner, smaller and more stylish which was driving me crazy (and some days still do). This was until one day my therapist challenged me to STOP. Stop with the eating plans, stop the weighing, and stop the hectic workout programs.

Just stop.

I thought she was absolutely crazy! How can I just stop dieting? I have been on the dieting rollercoaster most of my life. Just like the Sagrada Família cathedral seems to be a never-ending project, my body has always been a non-stop project I’ve been working on, even at my smallest size. How can I possibly stop the project? I’m not “there” yet! (Wherever that is.)

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Deep, deep down I knew she was right. Whenever I start a new plan I would be filled with fire and passion and see awesome results. Then, all of a sudden, I would hit a wall where I just get burned out and cannot do it anymore. All the weight I lost would come back with some extra interest, and I would be more depressed than ever because I failed again.

Through the grace of God, I’m learning a new way.

I have heard of intuitive eating before, but I used to think it was for people who didn’t care about getting fat. (There are many face-palm moments in this process – brace yourself). Yet, as I drove away from my therapist’s office I made the decision to investigate this interesting phenomenon.

Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch first described intuitive eating in their revolutionary book as an “anti-diet approach” to making peace with food, freeing yourself from chronic dieting and rediscovering the pleasure of eating. You know a book is going to be good when the first principle is “Reject the Diet Mentality“. I purchased the workbook and I’m busy working through it, slowly but surely. This is not a plan but a path to making peace with my body and learning to listen to her again. I’m sure I will still write many posts about this experience.

In my quest for more information, the Lord sent me a podcast which has made this way of living come alive for me. Intuitive Eating for Christian Women is a game-changer for me. Even though the original authors of the Intuitive Eating book had no intention of making this path one for the Christian faith, the principles are soaked in Biblical truths.

One example is how diet culture has bombarded us with lies that we need to be skinny and pretty to become worthy of love and belonging. From advertisements in magazines to social media influencers, everyone with a finger in the sugar-free pie has been convincing us for years that fat means lazy and unhealthy, and thin means perfection. These lies contradict scripture on so many levels.

God made my body and your body very good (Genesis 1:31) just the way they are. He made our bodies in his image (Genesis 1:27). Yes, we live in a sinful world with disease and disability, but he still made every one of our bodies and God can’t make something bad, because he is good.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

1 Corinthians 3:16
1 Corinthians 6 verse 19

Our bodies are the temple God chose to carry the Holy Spirit on this earth and with which to worship him with our lives. That is the highest calling we can have. He didn’t say you can only have the Spirit if you are a size 10 with perfectly toned abs. No, we are all his good creation.

Another gift God sent me was the book “Breaking Free from Body Shame” by Jess Connolly. With brave vulnerability and sharp wit, she showed me why body image is a spiritual issue and why it is time to rest from the quest for a better body. I loved how she convinced me that my body is not a project. What are we getting our bodies ready for? Another wedding, or beach holiday? No. We are preparing to spend eternity with Jesus in heaven, but we will be getting new perfect bodies for that purpose. In the meantime, we must take care of what he has given us now with gratitude and wonder.

Your body is not a project

I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice-the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2
Romans 12 verse 1

The customs of this world” are diets of depravation and starvation which override your body’s natural cues to hunger, fullness and satisfaction. These customs force us into extreme workout programs we hate but promise the perfect bikini body. Instead, God is calling you and me to restore our bodies to their original design. Living in our bodies should be an act of worship. He made us all unique with different interests and abilities. Through our singing, laughing, running, and hugging we can worship Jesus with our bodies. In these simple moments, we offer our bodies as a living sacrifice with which God will be pleased.

It’s time to get off the hamster wheel of perceptual dieting. Stop the Google search or Instagram follow of the “next best diet.” God has given your body every tool you need to live a healthy, full life with a love of food. It’s going to take some time to wake those cues up from years of deep suppression, but it will be more than worth it.

How do we start? We need to repent of all the ways we’ve harmed our bodies with diets, deprivation and hate-speech. No good creation of God deserves such treatment.

I remind myself daily that this is a path and not a plan. I’m on a new quest – not one for a better body but rather for a new relationship with my good body, just the way God made her.

Are you coming along for the journey?

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