Your body is a temple in which the Holy Spirit resides. Jennifer Landis discusses how we can teach body positivity through our faith.
Millions of people struggle with negative body image every day. In the U.S., 80% of women are dissatisfied with their bodies and 34% of men don't like the way they look. This negative body image can result in eating disorders, anxiety, and depression. Moreover, the Church and the majority of Christian leaders tend not to focus on this widespread issue. Sure, they address sexual immorality and other physical sins. But they don't spend much time discussing how to view your body the way God does.
Luckily, our faith and the Bible do address the issue. Within these, we find that we are valued, loved, and cherished, regardless of our physical being. And we are put here for a much greater purpose than to look good.
1. Replace Lies With Truth
The world tells women they're only worthy of love if they have the right size, shape, and appearance according to societal standards. But this is a lie. God says you are worthy of love no matter what you look like or what you've done. Your value rests in Christ. And the first step to realizing and claiming this truth is rejecting the lies of the enemy and the world.
One way to accomplish this is by being aware of how you speak to yourself. Do you look in the mirror and speak hate to your belly and thighs? Do you punish yourself when you feel overweight or insecure? If you recognize these unkind thoughts and words, banish them by speaking kindness and words of truth instead. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am made in the image of God. Repeat these Biblical truths whenever the enemy tries to whisper lies in your ear.
2. Surround Yourself With Positivity
While you're often your own worst critic, your surroundings also play a huge role in how you see yourself. The ninth and tenth Commandments advise us to not covet our neighbor's wife or belongings. This means comparing yourself to those around you and wishing you had their body is a sin. Yet we find ourselves comparing our body to photos on Instagram and our friends all the time. Combat these images and voices by purging your feed of people and lives you often compare yourself to.
Replace your social media feed and friend group with body-positive ones. Follow Christian accounts that remind you of your spiritual worth. Surround yourself with humans who see themselves the way God does. Spend time with them and share your struggles with your body image. Together you can grow closer to each other and to Christ, and develop a more positive perspective.
3. Treat Your Body as a Temple
Your body is literally a temple in which the Holy Spirit resides. The sixth chapter in 1 Corinthians says you aren't your own. God bought you at a price — His Son dying on the cross. You were an incredibly valuable purchase and you matter to God. So treat yourself with kindness. Stop beating yourself up for not looking a certain way. God doesn't care about your outer appearance anyway.
Rather, He cares about your inner being, your soul. He is more concerned about what you're choosing to do, watch, and listen to. Because these things flow directly into your spiritual being. And, depending on how you choose to live your life, your temple will either be a fit or unfit dwelling for the Holy Spirit.
4. Be Grateful Now
In addition to focusing on your spiritual being, begin to shift your focus from the things you don't like about your physical body to things you do like. Each day, stand in front of the mirror and compliment one physical aspect. This isn't an exercise in pride. Rather, it's practicing gratitude for the body God has blessed you with. You only get one and you spend your entire life within it. So it's about time you started being grateful for it.
Over time, you may begin to forget what you didn't like about yourself. And your attention will be on your smile and inner beauty. These, of course, were the things that truly mattered the entire time. You just had to practice noticing them.
5. Embrace Your Purpose
When it comes down to it, you weren't put on this earth to look pretty. God placed you here to live an abundant life, one that reflects His love to everyone you meet. You are the hands and feet of Jesus — not the shiny hair and flawless skin. Jesus probably didn't have those either when He was on Earth, anyway. So, instead of focusing on what you can do to look better, find ways to serve Jesus better.
Your purpose is spiritual and the outcomes and consequences last forever. Your body, however, is temporary. One day it'll be nothing but bones and dust. And, while that may sound grim, it further emphasizes the temporality of our bodies and that, in the end, the only thing that matters is what you did for Christ while you were on Earth, not how good you looked.
Do It for You — and Others
Of course, focusing on Christ and being more positive about your body image can do wonders for you. But it can also impact your kids in enormous ways. More than three-fourths of parents denigrate their bodies in front of their kids and 43.6% verbally noted weight gain in their children. And their little ones noticed it all, took these comments to heart, and began looking at themselves in a negative light too.
But what if you changed the narrative? What if your kids saw you living the life God has planned for you without worrying about what you look like along the way? This shift towards body positivity would undoubtedly teach your kids to do the same. So choose to see yourself through God's eyes for both your own sake and the sake of future generations. How will you teach your child body positivity today?
Copyright 2020 Jennifer Landis
Image: Andrea Piacquadio (2018), Pexels
About the Author
Jennifer Landis is a convert to the Catholic faith, a mom, wife, writer, and blogger. She is the founder of Mindfulness Mama, a blog where she encourages moms to make more out of mom life by finding moments of mindfulness every day.