“How is that even possible?” I think incredulously as I examine my pants.
I don’t know why I’m surprised. I weigh more now than I ever have (apart from those times when I was incubating another human); I shouldn’t be shocked at the worn-thin fabric on the inner thighs of my favorite jeans.
I wish I could tell you that I’m learning to love my body no matter what size it is.
I wish I could tell you that I’m fearfully and wonderfully made, so the extra weight doesn’t matter.
I wish I could tell you that a woman’s inner beauty is all that’s important anyway, so a few pounds isn’t a big deal.
That would be a nice place to be. Plus, those are the posts that get liked and shared and shared and liked until they go viral.
It’s what we like to hear, after all.
But I’ve gotta tell you, it’s just not ringing true.
At least not for me,
and not for now.
Though not for the reasons you might be thinking.
Don’t get me wrong…I don’t like spending money for new clothes while three smaller sizes waste away in my closet. And I don’t like seeing pictures of my puffy new self. And I don’t like the quick!-suck-in-my-belly impulse that haunts me when I walk around in public.
But those things aren’t a really big deal to me right now.
You see, while I agree that I’m fearfully and wonderfully made, I’m all too aware that the “fearfully and wonderfully” can fade.
And it has.
Because of me.
Because rather than choosing to be a faithful steward of the God-given health of my God-given body…
I’ve chosen instead to abuse it.
And though I don’t like the extra weight I’m hauling around, what bothers me more than that is the message that comes packaged in thirty-five pounds of fat:
I have a sin problem. I lack self-control.
And what bothers me most of all is the fact that not having self-control can actually cause people to doubt the saving power of my God. It can make onlookers question sincerity of my Christian testimony.
Don’t believe me?
Consider this verse from the apostle Paul:
“But I discipline my body and keep it under control,
lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
1 Corinthians 9:27
Paul knew that despite his persuasive preaching, his faithful perseverance in times of trial, and his diligent training of Christ’s church, all of his efforts would be in vain if his testimony was disqualified by his lack of self-control.
That can really happen. And it is happening.
If you look at any social media status, news article, or blog post that makes a statement against homosexual marriage, you will almost always see comments blasting hypocritical Christians who ignore the numerous Scriptures about gluttony and focus on the relative few verses about homosexuality.
And you know what?
I think they have a valid point.
Regardless of opinions about their motives or agendas or skewed perspectives or eyes blinded to the truth…
I can’t help but wonder whether their eyes will ever be opened to the truth if they don’t encounter Christ-following people living the truth.
The truth that says an end result of God’s Spirit living within me is that I will have control over my appetites (Galatians 5:22-23). The truth that says I am free from the power of sin (Romans 6:18). The truth that says I don’t have to live in bondage anymore (Galatians 5:1).
How can I tell them Jesus will set them free from their sinful lifestyles…
when I haven’t yet claimed freedom from mine?
And so my weight issue is more than a pesky annoyance. It’s more than vanity. More than my health is at stake.
It’s my testimony.
And so is yours.
And you know what? It’s not just about losing weight.
(Here’s where some of you who have this thing “under control” might need to sit up and pay attention.)
My weight hasn’t been stable since I was sixteen years old. I’ve fluctuated within a thirty-five pound range for well over half my life. My cycle goes something like this:
Give in to my fleshly desires and indulge in greed and laziness. (No punches pulled here. I’m talking about myself, after all.)
Gain weight. (duh!)
Get disgusted with myself and my too-tight clothes, and then inspired by vain thoughts of how good I’ll look when I’m thin (brutal honesty here).
Start dieting in some way, shape, or form and exercising in some non-running way, shape, or form, all while staying inspired by more vain thoughts of how good I’ll look, how much better I’ll look than so-and-so, and how impressed so-and-so will be by how good I look.
Oh, how painful that is to write. But it’s the plain, ugly truth…
(bared openly for all the world to see).
Sure, I’ve lost weight this way. But what God has been showing me lately is that this is not me claiming freedom. It’s a cycle of bondage.
The cycle starts with bondage to greed and gluttony. And though the greed and gluttony eventually stop, the bondage doesn’t.
Because instead of casting aside the bondage and claiming the freedom Christ died to secure for me, I choose instead to trade one kind of bondage for another. I trade my bondage to greed and gluttony for bondage to pride and vanity.
I wonder if you can identify…
We trade our chocolate fanaticism for a gym obsession.
We trade our couch potato status for P90X bragging rights.
We exchange our fast food fetish for a detoxing, juicing, no-carbing, lean protein fixation.
We stop worshiping the lust of the flesh only to start bowing to the pride of life.
What would happen if you and I took back our testimonies?
If we paid attention to Jesus’ statement that “to whom much is given much will be required” (Luke 12:48), and realized that our health is included, and decided to take care of it like it’s the sacred trust that it is?
Not for vanity’s sake. But for the sake of our Master, who entrusted us with health in the first place.
To walk in freedom…
in the confident security that accompanies faithful stewardship…
to have a testimony that’s above reproach…
well, I think those are worth the sacrifice of any craving my appetites can concoct.
How about you?
Did this post strike a chord with you? Don’t miss this post, in which I offer steps I’m taking to improve my health, including free Bible memory printables on self-control and God’s sufficiency.
**Please know that this post is written from my personal experience. If the heart issues I address in this post don’t ring true in your own life, please disregard it! Some large people do not struggle with gluttony. Some small people do. It’s not about size; it’s about our hearts! Beauty does come in many shapes and sizes, and the last thing I want to do is cause any woman to have a negative body image. I simply seek to encourage us all to consider the heart issues that can pertain to this issue.
Written by Jennifer Clarke