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Doing Life Together

chain-natter-452842_1920Do you like your body? If we are honest, most of us would say no. Body distortion and lack of acceptance began in a garden. Yet, we feel the results of it today.

The 3rd chapter of Genesis provide an explanation of how we moved from originally accepting our created bodies to embracing feelings of shame and inadequacy. This is a rich chapter, providing insight into our struggle with body acceptance.

The origins of body image distortion developed when a man and woman decided to share a treat. Didn’t you just know that food had to be involved in this! The only surprise is that the food was fruit, not chocolate!

In the beginning, God created Adam and Eve in His own image. He looked at them and declared his creation good. That’s the highest seal of approval possible. His creations were flawless, unaffected by sin. Picture it. Perfect bodies roaming the garden—naked and unashamed. Body acceptance was at an all time high until sin entered the picture.

Most of us know the story. Eve’s temptation relates to our struggles with body image acceptance. It involved seduction in three areas: 1) personal benefit 2) focus on appearance 3) false wisdom. Let’s pick it apart a bit.

When Eve saw that the fruit on the forbidden tree was “good for food”, she was enticed. Attaining the perfect body usually includes this temptation. We believe that there is personal benefit to all the obsessing we do and all the improvements we make. The culture reinforces this. Beauty, thinness, big breasts and whatever else we have been fed equals success, opportunity, even money. We are enticed by the potential for personal benefit.

Eve also noticed that the fruit was pleasing to the eye. Eve’s focus got off of God and on to appearance. We see something that falsely promises us incredible physical results and we want it. The offer of plastic surgery, youthful creams, and other beauty aids tempt because they promise to boost our appearance, to make us more pleasing to the eye. But when we get our eyes off of God, we lose focus.

After eating from the forbidden tree of good and evil, the original couple became aware of their nakedness. Something shifted. Now, there is no indication that sin changed their physical bodies. They still had those glorious, perfected forms. What did change, however, was their awareness or perceptions.

Apparently they didn’t like what they saw because they tried to hide their bodies. Think about that. Even people with perfect bodies wanted to cover up and hide. Their perceptions became distorted. Separated from God, they felt exposed. The result was shame. The flashing neon here is that perfect bodies don’t fix the problem!!  Shame and sin took over.

Dealing with our perceptions requires a reality beyond ourselves and others. Will we listen to our own thoughts or the thoughts of others and act accordingly, or will we listen to God and believe what he says? The path we choose determines our body acceptance.

First, we must acknowledge our nakedness before God. Then we must decide who will be allowed to cover us? Our own efforts, spoken words from family members, cultural images—all of which can keep us hiding with feelings of shame and insecurity? Or will we let God’s truth speak to us and listen?

We have a spiritual heritage that brings truth to our body, soul and spirit. It’s our choice to stand alone, naked and ashamed or with God’s help, move into body acceptance and learn to make peace with our bodies.

Adapted from Dr. Linda Mintle’s book, Making Peace With Your Thighs (Thomas Nelson, 2006) 

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