Conquering the Lion of Body Image

“The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” 1 Samuel 16:7, NLT

THE BEACH! A fun-filled place of sun, family, friends, laughter, selfies, group photos and memories. I love the beach and every year it’s my goal to make a trip to the beach. The joy that I have when I am there is incomparable to any other life event or activity. The beach flat out MAKES ME HAPPY! But Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy, and this year, he almost stole my joy of the beach.

You see, a two years ago, God granted me the courage and grace to drop 65 pounds. For the first time I was able to wear a two piece at the beach and feel a comfort that I didn’t know could exist in a bathing suit.  There was something very special about accomplishing that goal and sitting on the beach that year and that made a monumental impact on me and brought my “beach joy” to a whole new level.

But then life happened, and I gained some weight back. Another summer rolled around, and it was time to put my suit back on. While the two-piece still looked fine, my comfort level was not as it had been the year before. I felt self-conscious. I felt different than the year before and I didn’t like that. I spent that weekend at the beach trying not to compare myself to other women my age in bikinis. I told myself I looked fine. I told myself to just enjoy the sun, sand, company, and time off from work. For the most part I did. I still had the joy of living in a healthy and right-sized body and for that I was extremely grateful…but my spirit was still looking for external affirmation and validation about my physical appearance and it just wasn’t coming.

This brought more insecurities…. All  of the sudden…. Little by little, domino effect…. My mind was in a different space and my focus was off. Negativity had its little claws in my brain and was manipulating me. My joy was dimming. Get this….I didn’t even realize all of this was happening until my spirit was lifted by a friend’s words of encouragement AFTER I returned home. I whole-heartedly believe God heard me while I drove home as I prayed. It wasn’t a big elaborate prayer, honestly, I don’t remember exactly what I asked as I drove, I just  know I prayed about how I was feeling and my focus. I didn’t like it.

I recognized my attitude as I texted with a friend and mentioned how I had been feeling on my trip. I shared that I recognized that I was seeking outside approval and I needed to find my own self-acceptance and not expect or rely on it coming from an outside source. Her words were such a special reminder; God was reminding me as she spoke, “Shara! You are so much more than your physical appearance! You are spirit, soul, and heart!”  I immediately was reminded of how God looks at me, and this is how I should look at me…and how I should look at others.

I arrived home, and with her words, away from the beach and people, something started to “lift”….I could feel a physical difference in my spirit and I remembered, “The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart1 Samuel 16:7, NLT

Later, I read, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen, but the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” 2 Corinthians 4 16-18

I am so blessed by how he gently reminds me and speaks to my heart. I am so thankful that HE sent my friend to remind me that HE is the one to validate, encourage, and remind me of how beautiful I am!

Ladies (and interested gentlemen)! A reminder for us as we don our bathing suits for summer fun this summer: WE ARE NOT THE SUM of our body parts, no matter how much the world (perhaps our minds and some men) may scream this message to us! We are spirit, soul, heart, mind…no bathing suit or photo could ever capture the breadth and depth of our complete and total beauty! Next time you feel your mental energies focusing only on your physical…PLEASE take a moment to remind yourself of the REST OF your beauty, truly the most important parts!

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