When Adam and Eve sinned, they were ashamed of their nakedness. Sin resulted in fear and hiding and a condemnation of their natural state. Adam and Eve’s new found knowledge of good and evil brought them anxiety in their naked identity. On their own, they tried to cover their nakedness and not feel shame but they failed. Self-hatred begins.
This explains, in part, why we struggle so much in the area of complete body acceptance. Our perceptions are distorted. Like Eve, we tend to listen to the voices all around us who don’t have our best interests in mind. When we take matters into our own hands and try to deal with our distorted perceptions without God, shame and hiding keep us buying more products, taking unhealthy supplements to loose weight, make us willing to go under the knife for risky surgery and more. Shame also distorts the image in the mirror and says to us, “You are inadequate and don’t measure up.”
The good news is that God sees us in our natural state, naked and all. He doesn’t shame us. It’s when we attempt to separate ourselves from God, to live life on our own terms that we feel shame and dislike our bodies. Just like Eve, we are lured away from God by opportunities to personally benefit, by focusing on appearance and by acting solo.
When we try to deal with shame and self-hatred apart from God, we won’t be successful. Our self-deception and self-will are too strong and distort our thinking and influence our behavior. Even if we don’t recognize it, distortion is part of us.
Thankfully, God pursued Adam and Eve in their naked state. Notice he didn’t hide from them but pursued them. I love that about God. We are the ones in hiding, not He. When Adam and Eve were ashamed and trying to hide, they really needed God to take control. Someone bigger had to intervene. And that’s just what happened before they were sent out of the garden to deal with a fallen world. God had them discard the fig leaves and made tunics of skin to clothes them. This is important, not because it was a fashion shift but because of the significance of God clothing them instead of them clothing themselves.
When God clothed them, it’s wasn’t because of shame. It was a covering of protection. Forget the ineffective fig leaves. They were man and woman’s attempt to solve their shame on their own. Skins had significance. They required the shedding of blood. God offered the first blood sacrifice to save Adam and Eve from spiritual death. What an incredible provision and foreshadowing of our need for a personal Savior to keep us from destroying ourselves through our own propensity to hide from God and solve our problems on our own.
When sin entered the picture, Adam and Eve needed a new covering that would calm anxiety and deal with their newfound insecurities. God’s provision to correct our fallen state began. Our designer is capable of covering our distorted perceptions with truth. He does not condemn us or our bodies. He offers grace and love.
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? Will we let it heal us?
Allowed God to clothe you in his righteousness and truth. Stand naked before him and experience his love that will heal shame. We have a spiritual heritage that makes 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 accept the beauty of His design.
Adapted from Dr. Mintle’s book, Making Peace with Your Thighs (Thomas Nelson)
Much of my therapy practice was spent helping women deal with mother-daughter issues. Whether the relationship was great, terrible, or somewhere in between, mother-daughter relationships are powerful and partially define who we are. It is such an important relationship so don’t ignore it. The more you work through issues with your mom, the better all your other relationships will be. That’s right-family work makes you a better person in all relationships.
Simple Effective Tips to Improve Mother-Daughter Relations
Change for yourself, not because someone else thinks you should or is pressuring you to change. When you do make changes, it is disruptive to the old family patterns. Know that change is difficult, won’t be easy, but worth the effort when the relationship improves. So be patient. Work on your responses to your mom. This is the part you control.
Stay in touch. No matter if your mom is good or poor at communication, decide to check in regularly and value the relationship.
Don’t lose your sense of self. Having a great relationship with mom doesn’t mean you lose who you are in the process. It is just the opposite. The more you define who you are, the better you can be with her without becoming defensive or constantly needing her approval.
Once you have a better sense of yourself, you can learn to be more empathetic, listen better, consider your mother’s worth as a person, be concrete in communicating, and allow yourself to see a bigger picture of who your mother is and was.
Having a Child of Your Own
A big equalizing factor for many adult daughters is when they have a child of their own, particularly if that child is a girl. Having a child usually creates more empathy for job of motherhood. It isn’t as easy as it looked. When an adult daughter begins to grasp what her mother went through and how really tough parenting can be, she can then begin to have more grace, forgiveness and acceptance.
Build your mother-daughter relationship on principles in God’s Word. Although the oneness we had with our moms before birth is the closest to oneness with God, human relationships will always have flaws. A daughter’s yearning for intimacy and closeness is ultimately one that only God can truly satisfy. But our goal is to build intimate connections with family members. Look for the expressions of God’s love outlined in 1 Corinthians 13 as we mother and are mothered. Love opens up possibilities. Because of love, we can and should find a way to honor and connect with our moms.
Dr. Linda Mintle is the author of I Love My Mother But…(Harvest House, 2011).
Parent Question: Our son does get angry, but don’t all kids? He was suspended from school and we don’t want to overreact or minimize problems. He says he hates school and doesn’t want to be told what to do. The teachers have complained about his anger and we have trouble getting him to follow directions at home. How do we decide if our child is just being a boy or has a more serious problem?
Sometimes, it is hard to make the distinction between “normal” temper tantrums, emotional upsets and behavior problems.
In terms of what you are describing, you would want to look for these things:
- Does he blame others for his behavior?
- Is he easily annoyed?
- Is he irritable and moody, often angry and resentful?
- Does he argue with you, not follow instructions and act in spiteful ways more than most children?
If so, you may be looking at a child who would fit the diagnosis of Oppositional Defiant Disorder. These kids have trouble regulating their emotions, resist traditional parenting practices and have poor peer relationships. You see it not only in the home, but also at school.
To begin to turn things around, build a positive time with your son for at least 15 minutes every day. It is easy to give all your attention to the negative behavior. So be intentional about creating positive moments and reinforcing his appropriate behavior.
Find a child mental health therapist who can evaluate your son and provide family help. There are certain types of therapies that can really help him and your family have a more peaceful home and do better at school. Do this as soon as possible in order to prevent more problems later. The sooner he gets treatment, the better the prognosis.
Is one of your life goals to be content? If so, you may find it difficult to reach that goal given the culture in which we live. Daily, we are bombarded by media messages to never be satisfied with what we have. To be happy, we are told we need more stuff, more power, more money and more fame. Basically, the message is that more is better. We are sold this path to contentment and apparently we are buying it.
One only has to look at the high rate of consumer debt. People are not content to live within their means. We need bigger houses, more expensive cars, designer clothes, expensive toys and the latest technology. Get it now. Pay later. You deserve the biggest and the best regardless of what you can afford.
Advertisers convince us that we cannot possibly be happy until we buy their products. They thrive on our discontent. That restless longing for more sells products and motivates us to buy. We must have the latest and newest of whatever in order to preserve our image and keep up with those around us. To be without threatens our self-worth.
In our quest for more and better, we are on the move. We look for better jobs and places to live. Job and career changes are often based on where we can find a better lifestyle, cost of living, and opportunities for advancement.
When relationships do not satisfy our deepest longings, we look around and think someone else will fill that emptiness or meet that need. Dissatisfaction also leads to clamoring for our rights and fair treatment. Getting fair treatment and an improved partner are supposed to bring us happiness and put a stop to discontent. But they do not because discontent in not rooted in someone else making us happy, keeping up with trends or finding the perfect mate.
To learn the secret of contentment, we must get our eyes off the things around us and on to God. His strength, not stuff, is the source of our contentment. Like the Apostle Paul said, do not be anxious about anything, but in all things be grateful and give thanks. In prayer, present your needs to God. Thank God for what He will do. And the peace of God will fill your heart.
When you are tempted to want more as a source of contentment, instead trust God and think on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. It will keep you from discontent, and bring needed peace for that moment. Rest in Him.