Girl Talk with Sarah: 4 of 10
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Today’s question comes from my friend Jess. I’ve known Jess for what feels like forever. We were part of the same competitive dance team from a very young age. Even though we both had to leave the team when we went away to university, we still keep in touch and see each other regularly. She’s super talented and is such a fun girlfriend to have in my life.
Hi Sarah! I’ve been a dancer all my life and an intense dance schedule meant that I didn’t have many weight or body image issues growing up. I continued to dance recreationally through university but in the upper years, timing became an issue (well let’s be honest- I was more interested in hanging out with my friends and boys) and I gave it up. I got a gym membership and made an effort to get there as often as possible but, I noticed that my body was changing and my weight was something that I found myself thinking about more often. My sister, who has been heavy for a while, began a pretty intense weight-loss program six months ago. She’s lost a lot of weight, and looks amazing but her weight and food is ALL she seems to talk about. I want to encourage her, but she can’t seem to help herself from giving everyone around her weight-loss advice; including me. I’m glad she’s excited about her weight-loss, but she’s been making me feel self-conscious and unhappy with my current body weight. Does the Bible say anything about body image? I know it seems silly but it’s something that’s been on my mind. Help!
Sarah’s Words of Wisdom:
When I find focus on Him I am able to get over myself.
It’s a simple yet complicated truth, but one worth playing over and over in my mind. In order to get over myself, I must quit obsessing over things like the way I look in pictures, how a certain pair of pants fit, or the fact that there’s a big zit on my chin. After all, this time spent in the space of my mind is not productive whatsoever. When I let ugly thoughts about God’s creation swirl around and twist into non-realities, I’m living in a place in my mind that purely focuses on the creation and not the Creator. I begin to worship the creation, and I forget the reality that God is more worthy of my worship than I am. The book of Romans tackles the idea of sins of the flesh—anything that takes our focus off of Jesus and separates us from Him in our disobedience to the words in the Bible. When we obsess over our literal flesh—how we look in the mirror or the number on the tag in our new jeans—this is no less a sin than lying or cheating.
If you live your life animated by the flesh—namely, your fallen, corrupt nature—then your mind is focused on the matters of the flesh. But if you live your life animated by the Spirit—namely, God’s indwell- ing presence—then your focus is on the work of the Spirit. A mind focused on the flesh is doomed to death, but a mind focused on the Spirit will find full life and complete peace. (Romans 8:5–6 THE VOICE)
When we focus on our body image junk, thought by thought we step away from our Creator’s perfect peace. Something happens to me when I obsess over my body: my entire life turns dark, and nothing is right in my world. The obsession bleeds into other parts of my life, and I resent that I’m not happy about my body and therefore am not happy in my job, with my family, with my friends. But blessings are offered by our King to a mind that turns outward toward Him rather than inward toward our perceived flaws. God’s beautiful bounty consists of contentment, joy, fun, and relief.
To read more about what Sarah has to say about overcoming body image concerns, check out chapter two of her book; Stress Point: Body Image- I Heart the Skinny Mirror. To join the conversation between Sarah and her readers on this tough topic, click here and read week 3 of the Stress Point online summer bible study.
(Excerpted from Stress Point: Thriving Through Your Twenties in a Decade of Drama by Sarah Francis Martin. Published by Thomas Nelson, Inc. ©2012. Used with permission.)