I had a funny interaction yesterday with a kind, well-meaning individual who was trying to offer some encouragement. The words didn’t come out as I’m sure they intended when they said, “Rachael, you’ve lost weight! You’re starting to look so pretty!”
I just had to laugh a little because it was meant as a compliment, yet it came across as, “you haven’t been looking very good, but NOW you’re finally beginning to look pretty!”
But isn’t that so often the lie we tell ourselves anyways? We may not speak those words out loud, but we internalize a discontentment that prevents us from seeing ourselves as created in God’s image and therefore lovely to Him, even with some extra pounds or a little more jiggle than we’d envisioned our thighs having at age 25.
I am the first to admit that while I know and believe that God created me as good, made in His image, I’ve been walking away from His good design for awhile. Over the years my lack of self-discipline, extreme dislike (and avoidance) of exercise, and the choice to eat like every day is my birthday has made my body a little more pleasantly plump than it should be for health reasons.
My choice to seek a healthier lifestyle was truly based on a doctor’s encouragement and the honest truth that my height and weight placed me well into the obese category on his scale. Add to that the history of heart and blood pressure related issues that run in my family and truly that meant if I don’t take some of these concerns seriously, I would be foolishly wasting away future years of my life. And I don’t believe that would be Biblical or honoring to God. After all, James tells us that anyone who knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it is sinning (James 4:17). I knew I needed to do this for my health and to treat this earthly body as the vessel that God created it to be, His temple (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
Yet there’s this other more hidden agenda inside us all that speaks louder than “health” and could more accurately be named “vanity”. We desire to be pretty, to look thin, to not only fit in our clothes but to have others say (or think) “You look great!” So we try dieting, exercise, avoidance of sweet and yummy foods, and do a lot of hoping and wishing that we will indeed look pretty.
I’ve been there for the majority of my teenage years and early twenties, constantly aware of how much weight I’ve gained, lost, or just held onto. I can compare my body to my friend’s without even realizing it and think “if I just had legs like hers, or if I was just a little taller like she is… then I’d be pretty.”
Additionally, Satan is the master schemer, constantly telling us we need that thing we don’t have and convincing us that God was in fact wrong and His plan for us was not good enough. So instead of asking our Father to help us focus on Him, we listen to the Liar and believe his twisted version of reality. We choose forbidden fruit and seek a version of life that God never intended for us to have. We do this all. the. time!
So lately as I found myself discouraged from those well meaning words and listening to that inner voice that discounted the heavier version of myself as not pretty or not good enough, I got pretty frustrated at the enemy. Of course he wants to keep us in that place of weakness and discouragement. Because he takes the focus and shifts it off God and onto us, holding up a broken mirror to our faces and saying, “See? You’re not enough. You’re ugly and broken and fat. And no matter what you do you’ll never be enough.”
But God never said that about us, and He never thought it either. His fingerprints cover us in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) and at our heaviest (Romans 5:20). His grace reaches to our poor choices, tells us to put the cupcake down and run back to Him. Because He offers more than a weight loss plan, He offers life and life abundant (John 10:10)! He wants for us to make healthy choices, definitely, but not so we can earn our worth or “start looking pretty” – no! He says we are beautifully created in His image already (Genesis 1:27), and He wasn’t surprised by the extra weight we gained when we got married and struggled with anxiety and depression and had a hard couple of years (Psalm 139).
He wants us to live a healthy life so that we can honor Him with those years and share our hearts with the lost and hurting who need to know about our loving Father (1 Corinthians 10:31, Ephesians 2:10). He wants us to walk with Him because He created us for companionship and relationship that is not based on shame or comparison (Genesis 2:18, Galatians 5:1).
You are beautiful because He looks at you and sees Jesus (Romans 8:1, 2 Corinthians 5:17), not because you reach your goal weight or keep those extra ten pounds at bay. You are worthy because His good grace has covered you, and done for you what you could never do for yourself (Ephesians 1:7-8). And you are loved because He made you, knew you, and formed you to be the woman of God that you are, saved by His love and made in His image (Psalm 139:13-16). Rest there today, because sister, you are already pretty — pretty beautifully and pretty loved by our sweet Heavenly Father.