The season of “calories don’t count during the holidays” has come to an end, and chances are, you’re starting to realize they do, in fact, count. Suddenly, all those diet commercials and Instagram ads about the latest fitness craze seem like they’re speaking directly to you. Every year around this time, my postholiday negative body image comes back to visit and resurfaces feelings of insecurity, self-doubt, pressure to change, and immense stress! But not this year.
In the past, my sole focus at the beginning of the year has been how I can shed my holiday weight and start working toward my “summer bod.” But no more. This year, I’m seeking truth about my negative body image and saying goodbye to the world’s expectations of me in the New Year.
2020 brought so much learning for me, and one of the major concepts that I was finally able to grasp is that the world’s expectations of me typically do not align with Christ’s expectations of me. For example, the world expects that I push through my limitations, work harder, and never rest. God asks me to give my best, but He also commands that I take time to rest.
I’ve found this concept especially true when it comes to how I view myself. The pressures of having a certain body type exist 365 days a year, but they are especially prevalent for me after the holidays. It’s like a full-on guilt-fest shouting at me to be different and do whatever it takes to try to become what culture tells me is “right” and “acceptable.” It’s absolutely daunting! But heaping on guilt and shame isn’t God’s hope and expectation for me or for you as we enter the New Year.
However, the enemy would love nothing more than to keep us distracted with a negative body image. He’d love for us to spend our days researching what diet and exercise plan will deliver quick results. He wants us exhausted from excessive exercise, foggy and fatigued from the lack of nourishment our body needs to sustain us, and stressed out about what others must think of us.
So, if we are insecure—believing we are unworthy until we become this or that—stuck in self-doubt, or certain that someone else could fulfill our calling better, then we have allowed the tactics of the father of lies to prevail. But praise God that we have hope, and we are not alone. We have the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace on our side (Isaiah 9:6)!
The truth is, God has an assignment for us today. Not later, when we’ve hit a certain goal or achieved a specific weight, but right now! He says we are valuable, and He has a purpose for each one of us that no one else could possibly fulfill. And even in the moments when we’re lacking in confidence and feeling like we don’t measure up, we can cling to the truth God declares over us: We are chosen, redeemed, wonderfully made, and so very loved.
So, rather than conforming to the patterns of this world by setting resolutions to drop a certain number of pounds, cut out something from our diets, or use a holy fast to mask what is really an excuse to diet (or was that just me?) … we will choose to keep it simple.
We will glorify God with our bodies by loving, honoring, and nourishing our temple of the Holy Spirit. That’s it! That means that yes, we do take care of our bodies, our minds, and our spirits. But it also means that, instead of focusing on our body image, our mission for 2021 is to take hold of our identity in Christ and believe that we truly are all He says about us.