Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

BFS_SelfImage_LGImagine living your life free from distraction, distortion, obsession and self-preoccupation…imagine living in the moment and liberated from the patterns of the past while being excited about the future. Imagine accepting and even celebrating the body you’ve been given, knowing that one day it will be transformed into something more glorious than you could ever imagine.

Most of us can only imagine!

Just as feminists raised their voices against gender discrimination in the 1960s, we need that same passion to be stirred in us regarding body dissatisfaction. The pressure to look like the ionic Barbie is constant and needs to be opposed or we’ll continue to see record rates of eating disorders, cosmetic surgeries and body dissatisfaction. And while our nation experiences record rates of obesity, personal happiness is still tied to thinness. As a result, body image, our mental picture of ourselves, grows more negative as reality fails to match the body idealism we embrace.

God’s Spirit in us tells us who we really are, not the culture. It is the Spirit of Truth, and it counters insecurity.

So how do we live in this culture of body obsession without being conformed to it? Paul addresses this in the 12th chapter of Romans, “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life–your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life–and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.(The Message 12:1-2).”

Do not think like the culture unless it lines up with the truth of God’s word. When we are constantly told to improve and fix our outward bodies, we are being distracted from the truth of acceptance. Nothing in God’s word says younger looking skin makes you more desirable to God or that big breasts bring success. These are the ideas of fashion gurus, diet experts, the cosmetic industry and plastic surgeons. The intent is simply to get you to buy more product and spend more money.

Paul says fix your attention on God and renew your mind with His thoughts. Don’t be dragged down by the thinking of the culture that pulls you away from the thoughts of God. And that’s exactly what happens when we get caught up in body obsession. Our thoughts are easily pulled away from the way God thinks of us and shifted to the approval of others and some personal standard we have developed from the culture.

Instead, listen to the One who made you, who loves you without condition, and who wants you whole and well.

 


For more help with body image, read Breaking Free from Negative Self-Image by Dr. Linda Mintle

ID-10067150My grandmother could cook with a vengeance. I have many fond memories of sitting at the kitchen table watching her pull dough for strudel, bake pies and create German delights. So when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) came out with advice for grandparents about teaching healthy eating to their grandkids, I sighed! Really, can’t grandparents still offer a few special treats now and then?

The heart of the advice was for grandparents to be a part of teaching kids to eat healthy. The instruction was for grandparents to give hugs and read their grandchildren a bedtime story. OK, I get it. We are fighting a war on obesity. Grandma can cut up apples and offer a host of healthily food items while talking to little Johnny about making good food choices. Then, she can shower him with hugs and affection. The message will challenge the notion of food is love.

I’m not opposed to this, but I still think grandparents can bring special foods and treats for grandkids. I love the memories associated with food and my grandparents. Their house was filled with baking and cooking smells I will always remember and I associated that with the warmth and love they also gave. So perhaps the message of not letting food be the only way you show love is important. Hug those kids! Read them bedtime stories, but let’s not get crazy and take away all the fun!

 

Letting Go of WorryWorry is one of the easiest things to do considering the world in which we live. We can worry about anything—nuclear war, unrest in the Mideast, a failing economy, our marriage, aging parents, what to wear to a party or whether or not our jeans make us look fat. From major to minor concerns, the potential for worry is ever present.

Our Creator knows the impact of the mental habit of worry on our physical health. He knows stress hormones are released during worry and damage is done to the body. He knows worry can cause cardiac activation regardless of whether or not worry pans out. In addition, high levels of worry can cause coronary heart disease, lead to unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking that bring early death. Worry is bad for the physical body.

Worry also interferes with our spiritual lives because it is based on doubting God. In order to worry, we have to give up trust and wonder if God is who He says He is. When trouble comes and we don’t understand, the temptation is to ascribe to God some negative motive like, He doesn’t care, He isn’t with me, or He caused the bad thing to happen.

When worried thoughts come to your mind, don’t try to suppress them. Instead, identify the worried thought. Then decide what a more reasonable thought might be, and replace the worried thought with the more realistic one. This is how you take a thought captive. You refuse to allow it to wander wherever it wants to go. You direct that thought to truth. Jesus is the truth and He says cast your cares on Him. Direct the thought to Him, then trust.

At the root of worry is doubting who God is and what He says He does. Sometimes, we assign attribution to God that is not part of his character. When this happens, we doubt and worry creeps in. Thus, we remind ourselves daily of God’s promises and who He is. Trust is based on knowing God.

 

For more help, read Letting Go of Worry by Dr. Linda Mintle

ID-10063256“You are an idiot and I hate you!”  “You make me sick! Loser!” 

Parents cringe when they hear this type of speech out of the mouths of children. The tongue is one of the most powerful parts of the body (James 3) and the Bible provides guidelines for our speech. So the importance of bridling our tongues and making our speech acceptable to God is very important for children to learn early in life.

Here are 5 points to discuss with your children about using hurtful words: 

1) Words hurt (Proverbs 18:8) and influence the way we feel about ourselves. Discuss the impact of hurtful words on others.

2) Ask what it feels like to be on the receiving end of such insults. This is how you help a child develop empathy. 

3) Treat others as you would want to be treated yourself. Ask, would you like to hear those words said to you? 

4) Even though others hurt with words, we, as Christians, are not to retaliate (Proverbs 15:1; 1 Peter 3:9-10). God’s way is not to hurt others back. It’s tempting and easy, but we want to be obedient to God’s Word.

5) Think before you speak (Proverbs 29:10). Words spoken in haste can’t be taken back and can damage relationships. If you do speak an unkind word, be the first to apologize and ask for forgiveness.

Finally, discuss the words of Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the heavens.” Explain what this means and how we apply these words when we are upset or angry.