I have bought into the lie for most of my life that having a thin, fit body was going to make me happy. I want to talk about body image because it has been such an obsession for me first of all, and secondly, I don’t have to look very far to see that I’m not the only one. There are certainly many benefits of eating healthy and exercising regularly, and I’m not trying to convey the message that our physical health doesn’t matter. What I want to say is that I do not believe God intends for us to obsess over our bodies – we were made for so much more.
According to abc news, Americans spend $20 billion a year on weight-loss products. You can go to any grocery store and find an array of health and fitness magazines; and social media, like pinterest and instagram, are full of fitness images and “motivation”. As long as I can remember, I was always drawn to the news segments on television that showed the newest ways to lose weight and how to get in shape. I’ve spent years searching for information on health and fitness. I’ve also spent countless hours online looking at other women who had that perfect body that I was always pursuing (this essentially describes the “fitspiration” movement). Each year since I was 14 years old up until I was 26, my new year’s resolutions and goals always included improving my body.
I believe that the desire for a better body is not new to society nor is it unique to our own country. I remember reading a biography of Marilyn Monroe in high school, and though she’s now considered the epitome of curves, she too struggled with body image and went on diets just like the modern woman. I went to an international high school and met girls from all over the world, and the pursuit for an improved body was a concern that crossed all cultures and backgrounds. In recent years, America has noticed the problem with our obsession to be thin, and many famous women have spoken out against it. Numerous campaigns have arose proclaiming self-love and embracing bodies of all sizes. And yet…the money we spend on weight loss continues to increase.
This past year, God has really impressed upon my heart that I was made in His likeness (Genesis 1:27) and that I was made to worship Him (Ephesians 1). My value is not in my body and as long as I think that my value is in what I am physically then I will always be pursuing something that will never satisfy. True satisfaction and contentment comes from being united with our Creator. My value as a human being is not found in what I can accomplish. My value is simply in the fact that God created me.
What are really doing when we are spending all of our time and energy meditating on our diets and fitness routines? We are making our bodies into idols. God made us to worship Him – He made us to worship. But because of sin, we are always drawn to worshiping other things – it could be our bodies, money, fame, praise from other people… The more time we spend worshiping our physical bodies, the less available we make ourselves to know God and to know true, eternal satisfaction.
Pursuing a healthy lifestyle is great – it’s when this idea becomes distorted and we begin to believe that we will find satisfaction and contentment in life once we achieve this desired body. Obsessing over your body is just another distraction that is keeping you from knowing your true purpose in life.
“…while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8 (NRSV)
“They traded the truth of God for a lie. They worshiped and served what had been created instead of the God who created those things, who should be praised forever…” Romans 1:25 (NCV)
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (NLT)
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:1-3 (ESV)