This blog post is adapted from a sermon I wrote and delivered in August 2019. I reference the Bible and Christian principles, but I believe the message is relevant to all people no matter your religious beliefs.♥
“What does the Bible have to say about body image?"
There are some Bible verses that talk about our bodies pretty explicitly - how to care for them, how to treat them...but what I find most telling is the absence or lack of verses that focus on our body and appearance.
The Bible places a lot of emphasis on our inner qualities, our values, our thoughts, and our actions.
Which on some level, we all know, right?
Growing up, in church, we're taught to live from a heart-centered place.
From a very early age, I remember being taught:
👉 "Out there" is the world… and in our hearts is our Truth. God. Our intuition. Spirit. This is what I was taught to trust and lean into.
Dealing with stress? I was taught to take deep breaths, pray, come back home to center. To peace. Turn inward.
Making a big decision? Not sure where to turn? I was taught to pray about it. To “sit with it.” Turn inward.
Envying my co-worker's promotion? Let it go. Come home to what matters. Lean in to love.
Over and over again I was taught to tune in, come home, and reconnect with God, love, and the beautiful peace within.
One of my favorite hymns growing up includes the lyric "Come and find a quiet center. In the crowded life we lead."
Spirituality and religion are designed to help us find our quiet center. To tune out the noise that surrounds us.
Time and time again we're taught this. Preachers preach on it. The Bible says it. Every religion values it.
Except there’s a HUGE area of our lives where we as a society, as a collective, we forget to apply these principles.
When it comes to food - what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat - instead of turning inward, we read the magazines. We follow the blogs. We research the latest trends.
When it comes to our body image - we look at pictures, magazine covers, and movie stars to tell us what we should look like.
...we see a highway billboard promoting one diet and we jump on that train.
...then we hear from a friend of a friend that a different diet actually works better.
And so on and so forth.
We obsess. We compare. We manipulate, control, and we look for answers “out there” instead of “in here.”
As a society, when it comes to food, body image, and our self-worth we almost exclusively look for answers outside of ourselves.
We’re reaching, sometimes desperately, to find that magic pill, that perfect body, that one answer that will help us feel secure in our skin or worthy of love.
But this is a never-ending game.
This game leads to feelings of self-doubt, guilt, shame, jealousy, inadequacy, and obsessive tendencies.
Want some support on your journey? Get your free guide of my 5 favorite ways to turn down the noise of society and turn up the volume of your heart.
Trust me. I've run the race. Trying to achieve, to reach perfection, taking advice from everyone else while totally disregarding my own body’s needs. My own body’s voice.
You have more wisdom and truth inside of you than you’ll ever find outside of yourself. And it's your duty, your responsibility, as a person of faith to tune in to that wisdom.
Ya see… if you take the time to tune in. To tune in and listen to your quiet center. The quiet voice within you that is ALWAYS there. You’ll hear it whisper, “You are enough.”
You’ll hear your inner wisdom tell you that “no matter what you do or what you eat or what you look like, you are loved and you are enough.”
Because that’s the truth.
And on some level, we know that.
We know we are children of God. We know that our bodies are temporary, but our spirits are infinite.
On some level, we know that no matter what we do God will always love us. And that our worth is unshakeable.
But we are living in a society that sends us the opposite message hundreds of times a day.
Society values achievement, success, beauty, youth, power, status, and perfection.
If you're living by society’s standards you are always going to be striving for an unachievable goal.
Our society profits off of your guilt and shame. Billboards, magazine ads, and commercials exist to perpetuate your guilt and shame about who you are and what you look like.
But God has very different values than society. God values kindness, compassion, respect, love, forgiveness, and acceptance.
1 Samuel says, “People look at outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.”
The Bible straight up names that humans are going to be distracted by appearances.
This has been something we’ve wrestled with for a very long time. The specific qualities we value have changed over the years, but in general, humans have a natural tendency to be tempted by shiny objects. Whatever that is for you... 6 pack abs, legs without cellulite, or an hourglass figure.
But God looks at the heart. God places value on the qualities that make you, you, that go much deeper than your appearance. God says “what’s important to me is what’s inside of you.”
In order to pay attention to our hearts and align our lives with God’s values, we have to intentionally resist the values of society, the media, and the ego.
As a spiritual person, you ultimately believe in the power of listening to God’s voice (the voice of love) over all other voices.
And God’s message is that you are enough. Just as you are, right at this moment, you are enough.
But we’re not living in a spiritual bubble or an intentional community. We’re living in a world with tons of billboards that promote messages telling you that you are NOT enough.
Which means you have to do some work.
Making a conscious choice to turn inward and connect to your heart & spirit.
Recentering yourself when you feel convinced that you’re broken. Or your body isn’t good enough. Or you aren’t loveable because of your size or weight.
Making God’s values your priority.
And not just in the really big moments. I’m talking on a daily basis. Multiple times a day.
The next time you’re having critical thoughts about yourself - counter that with self-compassion.
The next time you compare your body to someone else's - counter that with acceptance.
The next time you start counting your calories or feel guilty after eating dessert - counter that with grace.
Check in with your body before you eat.
Come home and find your center.
Offer gratitude for the food and the hands that prepared it.
You get to choose every day whether you're going to walk in alignment with society’s values or God’s values.
Whether you're seeking information outside of yourself or listening to the wisdom of the still, small voice inside of you.
The voice that reminds you that “You are a child of God and you are not broken.”
Namaste means: the light inside of me recognizes the light inside of you.
My spiritual self recognizes your spiritual self and it from that place that we shall live and connect.
You are light and truth and made of love.
You are enough.
So now, go forward, turn inward, and access THAT.