Figuring out How to Love the Way God Created me to be
I’m going to preface this blog post with the fact that posting this is really outside of my comfort zone. This is more than a lot of people know about me, but I’ve felt really convicted lately to be more vulnerable and up front about things I go through. I love the idea of allowing your “mess” to become your message. A conversation with my mom and Jordan, and then an amazing instagram post from Jenna Kutcher (here!) inspired me to talk about this. Jordan wrote a post about her journey with body image over on her Project Limitless Blog and I’d really encourage y’all to check it out (here!). She’s so wise & this is something not many people will talk too openly about but it’s my hope that these posts might inspire or encourage anyone dealing with issues about body image or confidence. You are beautiful and you are seen. This isn’t something you have to deal with alone.
Growing up, I was always really skinny. Up until my sophomore year of high school I weighed around 100 pounds and truly hadn’t hit my growth spurt yet. I was insecure about the fact all of my friends looked so grown up while I still felt like a little girl. I never really worried about my weight at this age because I had always been so small and was active playing volleyball, but, during this time, I had really bad acne. So while I wasn’t self conscious about my weight, I was about the pimples which covered my face that I could never seem to cover up. There’s very few pictures from this time showing just how bad my acne really was because I would always edit them out or not post a photo if it looked too noticeable.
Sometime after I had to stop playing volleyball, I finally grew, which seemed to literally be overnight. All of the sudden I was 5’10”, put on a bit of weight, and had bigger boobs than I knew how to deal with (lol is this tmi??? Idk but here we are). This caused me to be incredibly insecure- about my chest, about my height, and about the fact I wasn’t the tiny, petite girl that I used to be. I finally felt good about my skin after completing nine months on Accutane, but was now dealing with a whole other issue. I tried really hard to cover up and hide my body by wearing baggy shirts and oversized sweatshirts, because anytime I wore something even slightly revealing up top I felt like people would stare or make comments. Even if they did mean them to be compliments, it still made me uncomfortable because I just wasn't used to it. At times I felt like a stranger in my own body, as it really did take such a long time to become comfortable with my new shape and size.
During my senior year of high school, I was on lots of different medications to get rid of my daily headaches. One medicine, in particular, caused my appetite to decrease significantly. Once I realized this medicine was making me less hungry, I stopped eating altogether. I avoided meals with friends (which, if you know me, is one of my favorite things) and blamed me not eating on the medication. The medicine had a lot to do with it, but it was also a conscious decision I made because I wanted to lose weight. I lost about thirty pounds in two months and was definitely borderline anorexic. It’s sad looking back because while I was incredibly small and unhealthy at this point, I still saw myself as fat when I looked in the mirror.
After my friends intervened and talked to my mom, I immediately got off the medicine and started getting better. I gained the weight back and began to transition into a much healthier lifestyle. I’m so thankful for the friends that saw I wasn't okay at this point and did something about it because who knows how much further I could’ve taken it, ignoring the fact that what I was doing was not healthy. I could take this next point and turn it into a whole other blog post, but you need trustworthy people in your life that are going to tell you the hard things. While I might have been upset about the way they stepped in at the time, they helped me in bigger ways than they’ll ever know.
Two years later, I still am not totally comfortable in my body all of the time. It is a daily struggle but also something I work hard at. I’ve grown tremendously in my walk with the Lord since that time senior year and now I find so much comfort that I can rest in the fact that God created me to look exactly this way. And not only was I made to be exactly who I am, but I was created in His image. What bigger honor is there than that? It’s crazy to look back and see how while I believed in God and had a relationship with Him at that point in my life, I did not see myself through His eyes. I couldn’t believe that He would love me if I put on more weight or wasn’t the “perfect” version of myself I strived to be. I sought so hard for perfection and to look a certain way, that I was missing out on the beauty of a real relationship with Christ and the way He loves us completely and unconditionally- just the way we are. One of my most favorite verses when it comes to embracing who I am and how God created me is Psalm 139:13-16. This verse states, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body, all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be”. The Lord created you and me to be so beautiful and unique. He knit us together, it took 9 whole months! I saw a quote one time that talked about how the Lord created the entire universe in seven days, yet he spent 9 months creating us. How intricately and specifically must have He done this?! You were created to have every freckle, stretch mark, and feature that you might think is quirky or imperfect. It is all so heavenly designed and so very beautiful.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m preaching to the choir here. It’s hard to accept the things about yourself that you don’t love. I will always be insecure about my chest and the fact I can never find swimsuits at normal stores or that buying dresses means going up a bunch of sizes only to have it altered to be able to fit the bottom half of me too. It’s funny to think back sometimes because while this is such an insecurity of mine now, I remember how insecure I felt regarding how small I was before I really grew. The grass is always greener on the other side it seems. And y’all, overcoming insecurities takes work. It takes looking in the mirror and instead of throwing insults at myself, choosing to remind myself of who I am in the Lord’s eyes and what He defines me by. Not the number on the scale, not the size of clothing I wear, but the fact I am His child who He so specifically created and designed.
Another thing I’ve learned through this whole journey (which, it is a journey, because it’s still a struggle and something I will always be learning) is that we have to treat our body as a temple! This relates to the conversation I had with Jordan and my mom and the post that Jenna Kutcher made. While I am totally all for self love and the fact that we are all such different shapes and sizes, it doesn’t discredit the fact that we need to be taking care of ourselves and stewarding this gift that God has given us well. Something that Jordan emphasized in her live video and blog post is that healthy looks different on everyone. This is so true and something that’s very important to recognize when dealing with comparison and feeling bad about the body you were given, but I also think it’s really important that when you become complacent and use that idea to overeat, stop taking care of yourself, and not honor the temple God gave you, that can be a red flag and something you have to be careful of. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 states, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies”. God gave us this incredible gift of a body and we need to respect it and use it well. By taking care of this gift God has given us, we are honoring Him. Looking back and thinking about the way I starved myself in order to look a certain way breaks my heart to think about how I wasn’t treating what God gave me the way it deserved to be treated. When I think about all the other amazing gifts God has given me in my life and the way I treat those versus how I can sometimes treat myself, it reminds me that my body is a gift from Him as well and should be treated as such. Now, I choose to eat foods that I know will nourish my body because I want it to function the way God designed it to. I choose to work out because God blessed me with the ability to move and build endurance to live a longer, healthier life. It’s not always easy, and will almost always be an uphill climb, but it’s always going to be worth it.
If body image or an eating disorder is something that you’re dealing with, I would love to encourage you to tell someone. You might not want the help, but you know deep down that you need it. You are so beautiful, designed by God, and perfect just the way you are in His eyes. You probably don’t believe that yet but sweet friend I promise you it’s true. Turn to a trusted friend, adult, teacher, or even the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You don’t have to go through this alone.
I’d like to end this by reminding y’all of some very important truths. It’s okay to not have it together all the time. We all have good and bad days when it comes to body image and the disciplines of treating our bodies well. But you are so beautiful and so worthy of being healthy, I’d really like to encourage you in that. You’re worth it. You are beautiful. You are loved regardless of that number on the scale. You were made for more than being trapped in this lie. It’s my hope and prayer that by sharing my story and the way the Lord is restoring the way I view myself, that I could encourage y’all there is so much more than living every day counting the calories. You are so incredibly adored in His eyes, just as you are.