I hadn't struggled with bad body image in a long time because I always remind myself that He delights in me and thinks I am beautiful, but there was a time this summer when I gained some weight , felt bloated, and was attacked with bad body image thoughts horribly bad. I was at work, fighting the thoughts, trying to and praying to be able to just focus on the task at hand and on just loving others and not on myself. I knew I really needed to break down. After work I went in my car and vented to God out loud how sorry I was for not drawing close to Him lately and for putting all my own thoughts (a lot about body image and food) and anxieties before time with Him and the Word and before loving Him and others! I broke down to Him and asked Him to show me something in the Word.
I opened up to Zephaniah 3. As I read I could relate every verse, from the first to last, to me. It was incredible.
The Future of Jerusalem
1 Woe to the city of oppressors,
rebellious and defiled!
2 She obeys no one,
she accepts no correction.
She does not trust in the LORD,
she does not draw near to her God.
I was this city. I was being rebellious. Too caught up in my own priorities, doing things for others, exercising, fighting my stupid anxieties about body, food, and exercise. I knew I wanted to read the Word, but it was a time where it was very hard for me too.I would put doing things for everyone else or things I wanted to get done first. I had been praying the phrase, "God, help me draw near to You" for the past few days. I was amazed when it said that exact phrase right in what I opened up to!
3 Her officials are roaring lions,
her rulers are evening wolves,
who leave nothing for the morning.
4 Her prophets are arrogant;
they are treacherous men.
Her priests profane the sanctuary
and do violence to the law.
I felt like this is what the anxiety was within me. Roaring lions! Wolves. Bleh... I wanted all the anxiety gone, but it was filling my head and wouldn't relent. My thoughts were selfish. All anxiety is selfish!
5 The LORD within her is righteous;
He does no wrong.
Morning by morning He dispenses His justice,
and every new day He does not fail,
yet the unrighteous know no shame.
Yep. Jesus is the only thing good in me. And thank God that it's about Him and not me!!! When reading this I also had a prideful thought. It says, "the unrighteous know no shame", but I am filled with shame! And that I was like, Ugh!!! Sorry God, that was super prideful! Forgive me.
6 “I have cut off nations;
their strongholds are demolished.
I have left their streets deserted,
with no one passing through.
Their cities are destroyed;
no one will be left—no one at all.
7 I said to the city,
‘Surely you will fear Me
and accept correction!’
Then her dwelling would not be cut off,
nor all My punishments come upon her.
But they were still eager
to act corruptly in all they did.
8 Therefore wait for me,” declares the LORD,
“for the day I will stand up to testify.
I have decided to assemble the nations,
to gather the kingdoms
and to pour out My wrath on them—
all My fierce anger.
The whole world will be consumed
by the fire of My jealous anger.
I knew I was not listening to God's discipline and correction. I was still eager to keep putting what I wanted first: to love and help others the way I wanted to, to use my time the way I wanted to, to spend time exercising, and to keep putting off reading the Word. And the Lord is beautifully jealous over me. Jealous for my time. For my love. For my heart.
9 “Then will I purify the lips of the peoples,
that all of them may call on the name of the LORD
and serve Him shoulder to shoulder.
10 From beyond the rivers of Cush
My worshipers, My scattered people,
will bring Me offerings.
11 On that day you will not be put to shame
for all the wrongs you have done to Me,
because I will remove from this city
those who rejoice in their pride.
Never again will you be haughty
on My holy hill.
12 But I will leave within you
the meek and humble,
who trust in the name of the LORD.
13 The remnant of Israel will do no wrong;
they will speak no lies,
nor will deceit be found in their mouths.
They will eat and lie down
and nothing will make them afraid.”
Reading this I was thanking God that He will not condemn me or put me to shame even though I deserve to go to hell!!!!!! Because I believe in Jesus Christ, His death takes the place of mine and His blood covers all my sins. I was also thanking Him that in Heaven I will no longer do any wrong, speak any lies, be ANXIOUS, or selfish, or sinful!!! Hallelujah!! I can NOT wait to have this anxious sinful fleshy part of me gone for good!!!! I will be free, beautiful, child-like, and pure. . . . And the last part: "They will eat and lie down and nothing will make them afraid." That is exactly what I was afraid of: eating and sitting down. I wanted to be exercising and active every hour of the day and was afraid of eating. Afraid of resting.
14 Sing, O Daughter of Zion;
shout aloud, O Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart,
O Daughter of Jerusalem!
15 The LORD has taken away your punishment,
He has turned back your enemy.
The LORD, the King of Israel, is with you;
never again will you fear any harm.
16 On that day they will say to Jerusalem,
“Do not fear, O Zion;
do not let your hands hang limp.
This is all truly something to rejoice about!!! Even though I was and AM a complete anxious, sinful, and selfish mess, I will not be punished because all my sins are forgiven in Christ!!! I will be in Eternal Paradise with Him!!!!
... And now, for the part that made me be like "Oh my gosh!!! This is a miracle. God is REAL!!!...
17 The LORD your God is with you,
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”
Reading this I started bawling. The fact that I turned to one of very very few (two or three) verses in the Bible that say He DELIGHTS IN ME was a miracle!!! That is what I always remind myself when I struggle with body image, and I opened to this!!! ... And something I never remember hearing or reading before: He will rejoice over ME with SINGING!!! :D :D :D :D Wow. I always see Jesus as my Perfect, eternal Lover. And now, I have something real and True to add to all my daydreams of being with Him. He will rejoice over me with singing!!!! To me this is like the ultimate. A guy singing songs, playing guitar, songs specifically and especially about and for me. Wow!!!!!! Jesus... :D
18 “The sorrows for the appointed feasts
I will remove from you;
they are a burden and a reproach to you.
19 At that time I will deal
with all who oppressed you;
I will rescue the lame
and gather those who have been scattered.
I will give them praise and honor
in every land where they were put to shame.
20 At that time I will gather you;
at that time I will bring you Home.
I will give you honor and praise
among all the peoples of the earth
when I restore your fortunes
before your very eyes,”
says the LORD.
"The sorrows for the appointed feasts..." Again, wow!!! Exactly what I was feeling. ... And He will remove them all!!! He will deal with all the anxieties and fears that oppress me!! He will take away the shame and guilt I cover myself with (and that Satan loves to feed and tempt me with.) The verse "At that time I will bring you Home" is incredibly beautiful and special to me. Heaven is my Home!!! And I can't wait to get there. With Jesus!!! He is going to give me praise and honor... Praise and honor that only He deserves!!!
Wow. What can I do but bow before Him and thank Him?
Try to praise Him, live for Him, and love Him.
I am BEYOND beautiful to Him, even though my sin, selfishness, and anxiety are so ugly.
He DELIGHTS in me.
He will sing about me!!!!!!
I don't deserve this at all.
He deserves this from me.
All of this and more.
My earthly flesh is too selfish and sinful to ever give very much to Him, but I am thankful that He still loves, forgives, takes me as I am, and rejoices in me. Smiling down on me, His beautiful beloved daughter.
... Thanks God!!!
After reading all of that I was overwhelmed. Exclaiming, "God is REAL." I called Matt and my best friend Kelsey bawling, excited to tell them the story. I was overcome by His love and just wanted to share the Word with people. I was healed from the body image anxieties that filled me, and I have been able to look in the mirror and say "I'm beautiful" every day since. Whenever I have been tempted again with bad body image, even thoughts of feeling too skinny that I have a lot, I remind myself again just how BEAUTIFUL my Father and Lover sees me!!! I was also amazed at the fact that my faith that He would show me something in the Word worked!!! I have been opening the Word with faith that He will show me something again and again and again since, and let me tell you, I have many more miracles that I just haven't taken the time to type up!!! He loves to give us what we ask Him to when we have faith that He will.
...One day, He will rejoice over me with singing. . . . :)