We all know January as the time when the gym is packed and the grocery stores start selling out of health foods because New Year’s Resolutions have people determined to take better care of their bodies. I don’t think this is a problem; exercise and fueling your body with the nutrients it needs are both significant parts of the way God calls us to honor the bodies He’s given us to live in.
I do think, however, that when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions and our bodies, too many of them revolve around achieving a certain number on the scale or size on a clothing label. I believe setting these kinds of goals teaches us to be unhappy with our bodies unless they fit a certain mold instead of valuing them as they are, which is what God would have us do.
It’s not that I don’t believe in setting quantifiable, realistic goals that will help you assess your progress; it’s that I think the motive needs to be checked when making these kinds of goals that intimately involve your body. Do you want to lose 20 pounds because that would put you at a healthy body weight for your height, gender, and age? Or is it because you’d be happier with what you saw in the mirror if you did? It’s the latter of these that can be dangerous. If changing your body to match an ideal you have created (or society has created for you) is where your confidence comes from, then your body will never belong to you, and it will certainly never belong to God. There will always be someone thinner, someone more fit, or simply someone you believe is better off than you physically for you to compare yourself to, and if you allow that comparison to dictate the choices you make regarding your body, you will never be satisfied with body in which you live.
Resolutions that focus specifically on these outcomes leave the door wide open for discouragement and disappointment to creep in when the process doesn’t pan out the way you thought it would. Inevitably, there will ups and downs when making a change to your body.
Some weeks, your body will respond the way you would like it to, and other weeks, it won’t. If you allow those negative feelings in when it doesn’t, they will be uniquely intense because they are directed at your body, the very thing that is the visible representation of the life inside of you. The good news is that you can actually choose to be confident and comfortable in your body as is, even if the world would have you not. This isn’t easy. It requires rejecting comparison when you walk out into the world every morning. It means catching yourself when you start to speak negativity over your body and choosing to speak the truth of God over yourself instead, that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, that there is no flaw in you, that your body is a sacred temple, that it is worthy and pleasing to God. This mindset allows you to give yourself grace in the process of making changes to your body, if that is something you desire to do. As your body continues to change over time, this perspective will help you maintain that confidence and comfort, as it is no longer dependant upon a certain ideal.
1 Timothy 4:7-9 says “...rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance.” For this new year, I propose that we resolve to pursue godliness when it comes to our bodies. We know it is godly to value our bodies; God made our bodies the temple of His Holy Spirit. Valuing our bodies means honoring them, taking care of them, thinking good thoughts about them and speaking kind words over them. So find a fun way to exercise, eat good food that fuels your body well, get enough sleep, and drink more water, but don’t forget to be nice to your body with your words and thoughts. Work towards finding confidence and comfort in the fact that God made you exactly the way He wanted you, and check your motives when you choose to change your body in any way. I can promise you this: the work that God will do through you is not contingent upon you achieving a number on a scale or fitting into a certain size of clothing. Our glorious, limitless God wants to partner with you, as you are, to accomplish His eternal purpose.
Father, we ask you for eyes to see our bodies the way that you see them. We pray a breaking off of comparison and the instilling of confidence in our bodies exactly the way they are. We pray for the diligence to pursue godliness with regard to our bodies and everything that comes with that. Help us to make this the year one in which we find comfort in knowing that you have made us perfectly and that you want to work through us now; we don’t have to change anything for you to do so. Amen.
Author | Kalli Drake