To me, and probably every woman on the planet, there isn’t a worse feeling or activity in the world than jean shopping. On Friday I find myself standing under the hot, unflattering yellow lights as I try my best to squeeze my body into a pair of jeans that are supposed to shape me and make me look better, but better I do not look. I step outside my dressing room hoping that the three-way mirror will reveal a different truth. But instead of satisfaction and happiness, all I feel is shame and bile slowly rising in my throat.
All I can think at that moment is how much I hate my body. How I hate my thighs, my butt, my calves, my ankles, my kneecaps, pretty much any muscle or bone that goes into making my legs my legs. I don’t think about how my muscular legs can help me to walk and helped me compete in a sport I loved for ten years. I don’t think about how boys like girls with a little meat on their bones or “thicc”- personally a word I would die to be described as. I only think about how further, and further down in the vast heaping pile of jeans my size is starting to become. How at the top where I used to belong with the 0s and 2s, now have given way to much deeper down the pile. And I hate what I see and what I have become.
As I head home that night with a pair of jeans much bigger than I thought I would need tucked in my bag, I am horrified by what I saw in the dressing room. Horrid thoughts race through my head as I make myself dinner. Why am I bigger? Why has my body that used to be so tiny continued to betray me.? Is everyone going to notice that my butt is the size of a small state now?
As I take a deep breath and will myself to eat dinner even though a big part of me wants to skip it all together, I am reminded that the way that I view myself and my lack of thigh gap is not how God sees me. Not even a little bit. And as I start to eat my dinner, I was never one for self-control, I am reminded of the enemy and the lies that he uses to upset us and distance us from God. I just never realized how much my body shame was doing that.
In today’s culture, women really can’t win in how we look. We are expected to have a flat stomach, decent sized boobs, a butt that other women are envious of and men lust over, small stick legs, and a perfect hourglass shape. I have never met such a woman, and if you have, please send me a picture because I would love to see how all of that ends up looking together. Instead, we have so many women that are so unhappy with how they look. Our thighs are too big; our legs are too small, we have too big of boobs, our chests look like 12-year-old boys, our butts are too flat, our butts are too big, I mean when does it ever stop?
And unfortunately, I feel like there are too many beautiful women out there that feel the same way. Women who feel bile rising in their throats as they look in the mirror in the morning and cry when looking at how perfect other girl’s selfies look on Instagram.
Today I want to challenge our way of thinking, and I hope that these tips can help all of us to love ourselves a little better and truly grasp the way that God sees us. My goal today is to show you that:
The number on a scale can seem to define the health of our bodies, but really it defines the health of our hearts.
By this, I mean that the way we react to our fluctuating weight speaks more to the state of our soul and our soul health than our actual physical health. It can be easy to put our identity in how we look, how people expect us to look, what society claims is beautiful, but God luckily has never put that kind of pressure on us. I am ready to have a healthier view of my body, are you?
Put Your Worth In An Identity That Never Fades
“The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of the Lord stands forever.”
If we put our identity in the trends of this world, we are always going to be disappointed. There is always going to be another new celebrity we are supposed to look like, a new lip kit to try, and a new contouring style that is supposed to make our skin look effortless. We are never going to measure up or have it all together. Even those amazing Instagram beauty models have to take their makeup off at the end of the day and stare at their naked faces every evening.
God’s love, unlike makeup, once accepted and truly known, can never be washed, peeled, or rubbed off. It will stick to your soul like glue.
Let’s have this perspective when thinking about creating a worth that will never fade away. In Jesus, who formed our faces in our mother’s womb and thinks we are breathtaking without a stitch of makeup. Let’s put our hope and our emotions in words He has written to us, not in a fad that is sure to fade. Jesus died on the cross for all of us, big and small, contoured, perfectly manicured and uncut toenails. Believe that today and let His words replace the lies and expectations our society puts on us.
Move: Write down five Bible verses that talk about worth, appearance, or what Jesus did for you. Put them on your mirror and around your house to remind you of who you are when you forget.
Hone Gifts That Matter
“If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?”- 1 Corinthians 12:17
You have all been given distinct and precious gifts through the Holy Spirit. So, this week, instead of spending hours working yourself to death at the gym, online shopping to numb your soul, or watching unrealistic YouTube makeup tutorials, ask God to reveal your gifts to you. Think about the things that set your soul on fire, that you love to do, that you even feel called to do. Spend time harnessing those gifts. Nothing is going to make you feel more beautiful than doing what you are called and have been appointed to do. And, if you don’t know or have any idea where God is leading you, pray. He will show you and prepare you.
Nothing is more beautiful than a woman who is letting her purpose define her, not her poundage.
Unfortunately, I don’t think they make a Fitbit for that quite yet.
Action: So sign up for that ministry class, sign up to serve at your church, start a blog, learn that instrument, do something that nourishes your soul this week, that makes you feel alive in a way no great workout or slim-fitting pair of jeans can.
Find A Healthy Balance
It can be easy in our exercise-crazed, organic world to take the need to be healthy a little too far. To starve yourself to death to be “healthy,” and punish yourself for not working out every day during the week. Don’t let the joy and goodness of being fit and healthy become an idol. It can be easy to think that an idol has to be something that we construct and physically bow down to like the Israelites did in the Bible, but in reality, we bow down to things every day. We do this by giving up our time, our energy, our thoughts, our desires.
We do this when we push ourselves to exercise for an hour every day but neglect to spend any time with God. We do this when we let our makeup collection take precedence over tithing for the month. We do this when we let our horrible negative self-talk define who we are over the God of the universe.
This week I finally realized that I have not had the healthiest view of exercise. I would get angry at myself for only being able to workout four times a week. I felt like I needed to start pushing myself to exercise more even though it meant giving up other things. This especially escalated during my jean shopping venture as you can imagine. Thoughts like, “If I hadn’t gotten that smoothie the other day at the café,” and “ If I had worked out instead of getting coffee with a friend the other day this size would fit.”
Unfortunately, we are never going to get to a point where we are skinny enough, toned enough, and fashionable enough.
Contentment in who we are can’t come from broken people, perfectly packaged products, or calories burned; it can only come from the punctured wounds of the only truly whole human being, Jesus Christ.
That is why we need to strike a balance with the world. Where we can still exercise, eat healthily, and dress well, but we don’t let our desire for these things overtake us.
Process: Take a hard look at your “healthy” habits this week. See what has become an idol and what needs to be cut back on. Be honest and train your mind to start seeing exercise and healthy eating as a way to be healthy, not a way you HAVE to live to be a decent person worth loving. You are worth loving because Jesus died on the cross for you, not because you burned x amount of calories at the gym.
I hope today you can look at yourself in the mirror, warts and all, and realize that you are unequivocally and exquisitely enough just how you are. Your weight, face, and waistline were bought at a high price. So give yourself some slack today, and eat that piece of pizza for me, yourself, and Jesus.
5 Essential Ways To Make The Most Of Your Time With God Every Day
I have a confession to make. I have been grocery shopping, for the past nine months that I have lived in Lancaster to be exact, but I still don’t really know how. Everything goes back to the fact that I hate cooking. No, not hate….more like absolutely abhor. I am not one of those girls who has her own apron, or monogrammed kitchen wear, or who saves up for a Kitchenaid mixer. I’m the girl who literally bought Hamburger Helper and was genuinely shocked that the meat didn’t come with it. Personally, I feel victimized by the commercials.
But suffice to say, I hate cooking. I just don’t understand how people enjoy slaving over something for hours, that takes them a few minutes to eat, but a whole night to clean up. Does anyone else think that the science is off on that one? To say that I end up cooking one meal in my crockpot to last me for five days is not an understatement; it’s the life I live.
Let me paint the scene for you when I go into the grocery store. I have a list clutched in my hand, as I try my best to not run into anything or anyone ( a feat that is difficult for someone as accident prone as me), as I zig-zag my way through the aisles desperately trying to find something on my list:
silently praying that I can find the off-brand salad dressing or a package of goldfish crackers, wondering why in the world they keep cool-whip in the freezer section and not in the dairy section, and getting so impatient that I cross off ingredients to my crock-pot meal as I go. I don’t check the prices, when things go bad, or who made them. I grab and push and sweat my way through the grocery store until I collapse in an exhausted heap into my car only to remember I forgot to get the shampoo. Sound familiar?
Now, you might be starting to get embarrassed for me at this point. You may think, Rachel, you can’t talk about how much you hate cooking when you aren’t even married. Or you may be laughing at me because you are Betty Crocker and the fact that I hate cooking is a ridiculous concept to you. But I am hoping there are some of you out there, especially my young adult college grads, that secretly harbor an intense hatred for the grocery store and cooking as much as I do.
I share this with you, not only because I am hoping it will make you chuckle, but because I think we can all relate to going into “grocery-shopping mode” for many things in life. You know the mode, where you don’t really want to do what you’re doing so you just check out for a little bit?
For you, it may be when you go on autopilot talking to your mom. It could be when you are huffing and puffing on the treadmill and are praying to God that it will all be over soon. It could be when you are doing a mundane part of your job, talking to a particularly exhausting friend, or doing something you have done a million times before. You go on autopilot, not always because you know what you are doing, but because you just don’t care enough to pay attention.
And unfortunately, I found a startling resemblance to how I act grocery shopping and my relationship with God.
Because even though I do care about my relationship with God, definitely at church on Sunday morning or talking to my Christian friends, sometimes I go into “grocery shopping mode.” Where I am just trying to check it off my list like items at the grocery store, but I don’t really bother to pay attention to the sell by date or the price. I just go through the motions, sometimes huffing and puffing and wanting to watch Hulu instead, until I’m finished with my devotions for the day and can feel like the good Christian I am.
To explain it better; I want to go through the two parts that I believe encompass going into “grocery shopping mode,” or putting your brain on autopilot. Those are being purposely half-hearted and hoping to get lucky.
For being half-hearted, I am talking about all those times we care, but just not enough. So, for you, that might mean that you do pray every day, but you only pray for as long as it takes your eyes to close each night. You could read the Bible every day, but you just rummage and jump and open to random parts of the Bible each day hoping to be fed. It may be going to a young adult’s group or church every Sunday only to totally tune out while thinking about your mile-long to-do list or secretly beating your Candy Crush score on your phone. We all have certain tasks that we just go into airplane mood for, and unfortunately, when our faith gets stagnant or boring, it can be one of the first things to go.
Hoping To Get Lucky
The other element to “grocery shopping mode” is that I expect to be the rewarded for the shabby amount of effort I have put into it. Because every time I grocery shop, I expect to get the freshest ingredients, great deals, and not spend a lot of time or money. Unfortunately, what I think is victory normally turns into my salad rotting or my milk spoiling two days after I purchased it.
And we can be the same way with God. We can not want to give Him our full attention and our entire life, but we still expect Him to show up. To give us some truth nuggets when we are just rummaging through our Bibles aimlessly. To get a word or feeling from the Holy Spirit when we only pray right before our head hits the pillow. To provide for us, and protect us, and never cause us any harm, even when we don’t love Him as much as our cell phones.
And yes, we are fallen creatures living in a fallen world, but that doesn’t give us an excuse to put God on autopilot. To shrug him off like a cute, but itchy sweater, that we convinced ourselves we will wear one of these days. No, He deserves our full attention, so that He can give us the goodness, grace, and wisdom we need to get through the day. Because if we stop to take stock of our spiritual life when we are in “grocery shopping mode” we can find out that we hearts are rotting like a salad whose sell-by date is expired. And I don’t want that to be me anymore.
We need to be careful to not turn our precious time with the Lord into something we resent or feel like we have to cross off our Christian checklists. So, how do we do that? And, how can we take our minds off autopilot?
Stick to a Schedule
Guys, I am still figuring this one out. As a full-time worker and just a person who needs an inordinate amount of sleep, who considers herself to be neither a morning or night person, getting in my time with God is a real challenge. But, don’t get stuck believing that you have to do your time with God in the morning, because that is when Jesus did it, or a certain way because that is what your most spiritual friend does.
Take some time this week to think about what you might need to make that happen. Is it a particular time of day, a specific spot, or a particular book or song you need to incorporate into your time? Find what works for you and stick to it.
The Holy Spirit Is a Breeze Not A Tornado
I mean that we have to invite the Holy Spirit to be apart of our lives, or He is not going to come. The Holy Spirit is not like you or I. He is not going to hunt or chase us down. He is not going to drop a passive-aggressive email or social media post to get our attention. He is not going to drop hints or leave missed calls on our cell phone. He is just going to leave us alone.
So every day, you need to invite the Holy Spirit into your day. To guide you, and direct you, and to cheer you up when your crock pot dinner burns. We can’t live this life alone, and the only way we can feel God here on earth is through the Holy Spirit. He is a gentle breeze trying to pull us back to God, but if we forget about Him, we are only going to be irritated by the sudden burst of cold, instead of seeing it as an opportunity to draw us towards God.
Love Is 99% Action And The Other .999% Feeling
There are going to be days where you wake up, and the last thing you want to do is read the Bible. There are going to be days you are so angry with God for something happening or not happening in your life. There are going to be days where you feel apathetic and listless, and just bored. But lean in! Those days will not last forever.
Feeling spiritually dry doesn’t make you spiritually inept, it just makes you human.
So make sure that you realize that God is the God of joy and peace and faithfulness, but He is also the God of pain and sorrow.
When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad consider, God has made one as well as the other. ” – Ecclesiastes 7:14
So no matter how you are feeling about God at this moment or tomorrow when you wake up, make time with Him a priority. I hope that the quote below can give you encouragement when you don’t want to crack open your Bible.
The more that you refrain from God, the more mundane time with Him will become.
When you are reading God’s word or praying, try writing down your takeaways. Instead of just skimming that chapter again in Matthew or a well known Psalm, really see if there is something there that you haven’t discovered before. Think of the Bible as the ultimate treasure chest, except that you will never stop finding buried treasure. No one has ever read the Bible enough to truly get everything out of it.
And, since we all have such unique gifts, personalities, and circumstances, you never know what verse might stick out to you that wouldn’t happen to someone else. Keep a journal or notebook by your side for those times so that you can remember the unique way that God spoke to you. You never know how many friends and loved ones could benefit from your insight as well.
Pray Anywhere and Everywhere
Especially if you have grown up in the church, it can be easy to think that we can only pray at certain times. Like in the morning or over dinner or on Sunday. That we have to be in our prayer chair with our Bible splayed out in front of us drinking coffee as the sun comes up like the perfect Instagram story. But friends, that is not true.
We don’t have to be in a special mood, special place, or a special person to pray.
We can talk to God whenever we want, wherever we want. You can talk to God driving, when you are cooking when you are answering emails at work, and when your stomach is crying out in pain as you do abs at the gym. Now, I am not saying that you shouldn’t set aside a particular time of the day where you really focus in on talking to God. Because if you don’t plan for it, it will never happen.
But, we also need to realize that we can talk to God beyond our perfectly crammed in and timed devotional times.
That He wants to hear from us every second of the day, even when are sick of ourselves. So, here are some of my favorite ways to talk to God during the day.
- When you shower
- Brushing your teeth/getting ready in the Am
- On the elliptical or stair stepper at the gym
- Running errands
- Getting your hair done
- Doing something mundane at work
- Grocery shopping- haha
- Walking outside
I could go on and on. But the point is, that we don’t have to come to God with our squeaky clean selves dressed in our Sunday bests and at 5 in the morning. We can whisper our need to God as we take in our disheveled appearance in the morning, when the guy in front of us is moving slower than molasses, when we are checking out the other women around us at the gym, or just when we are exhausted and overwhelmed after a long day at the office.
Unlike how we are to God, God never expects us to bring our best, to always be faithful to Him, to give Him our freshest ingredients. He just wants us to come. And when we do come, He will bless us with far more than we deserve.
To wrap up, I hope you learned today two things. 1. That Hamburger Helper does not, in fact, come with hamburger. And more importantly 2. That the God of the universe is just waiting to connect with you on a deeper level today, so are you ready to take your mind off autopilot?