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Archive for the ‘Body Image’ Category

Talking to Your Children About Transgender Issues

SOURCE:  Jeff Johnston/Focus on the Family

Many were surprised when Bruce Jenner started appearing in public with long hair, wearing a dress and then announced his decision to “transition into a woman.” Jenner was an Olympic Decathlon gold medalist, a hero and role model for many in the ’70’s and ’80’s. Yet, now we learn that all along, he believed he was a woman. Photos of Jenner recently published in Vanity Fair magazine were even more shocking.

When confusing events like this are broadcast throughout the culture, Focus on the Family is asked a lot of questions. And we know parents get asked questions, too:

  • Daddy, why does that man want to be a lady?
  • Mom, what does “transgender” mean?
  • Can a boy turn into a girl?
  • Mommy, I’m a girl, but will I ever change into a boy?

Transgenderism — also called “gender dysphoria,” “gender confusion” or “gender identity disorder” — is tough enough for adults to understand. So when our children encounter these gender-confusing messages, what do we say? Most importantly, how do we help them develop a biblical, Christian perspective on this issue?

Focus on the Family wants to help parents navigate this topic, so here are some helpful guidelines and suggestions for addressing transgender issues with your children:

Keep It Simple

Relax. As a parent, you are the authority in your child’s life; but you don’t have to be an expert on every issue — including this one. And even the “experts” really don’t understand this issue. A few years ago, a gay identified psychiatrist was asked about gender confusion and responded, “The truth is we actually don’t know what it is. Is it a mental disorder or does the cause of gender dysphoria lie somewhere else?”    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/08/22/transgender-primer-manning/2687869/

So don’t think you have to understand everything about transgenderism or tell your children everything you know. Here are a few simple truths to communicate:

  • God made humans male and female.
  • Individuals are born either male or female.
  • Some people get hurt and confused, and they don’t like the way God made them.
  • As a result, some people wish they were the opposite sex.
  • Nobody can really change from one sex to the other.

Keep It a Dialogue

Use occasions such as this to connect with your children. Find out what they are learning, where they learned it and what they are thinking. Ask questions, such as:

  • Where did you see that?
  • Where did you hear that word?
  • Why do you think God made both boys and girls?
  • What do you think “transgender” means?
  • Do you think a boy can really turn into a girl?

This isn’t an inquisition but an opportunity to get to know your child better. So keep your tone conversational and friendly.

Older children and teens may have more questions, so we have a list of helpful resources at the end of this article. You might want to read some of these additional resources first, then read and discuss them with an older child.

Keep It Truthful

If you don’t know the answer to a child’s question, say so. Then tell your child you’ll look for an answer. Let’s say your son asks, “Why does he want to be a lady?” The real answer, if we’re honest, is “I don’t know.” None of us know all of the pain and false beliefs in the lives and hearts of persons who struggle with transgender issues.

Nevertheless, Scripture is clear about certain things, and those are what you can communicate to your children:

  • God made us in His image — male and female.
  • Sin entered the world and spoiled everything, including how we see ourselves.
  • God loves us and sent us Son to save us.

God wants us to live in truth about how He created us and who we are. We know God is powerful to save and transform lives — including the gender-confused. Tell your children this truth.

Keep It Kind

God has a deep love for sexually and relationally broken men and women — including those struggling with gender identity issues. These struggles are complicated and touch on deep aspects of our sexuality and being. The topic can provoke some to laughter or mockery, so work to maintain God’s heart for the gender-confused. He loves them with an everlasting lovejust as He loves each of us.

Your children will be watching you for cues about how to respond to gender identity disorder. Pray for God’s heart and for the ability to convey this to your children. Tone and attitude are as important as your words:

  • God loves all of us.
  • God loves men who wish they were women, as well as women who think they are men.
  • We may disagree with someone’s beliefs and choices; however, we can still be kind and loving.
  • We can pray for those who are gender-confused.

Keep It Affirming

When children see a transgender person on the news or on the street, they may feel curious, alarmed, confused or afraid. So when they ask questions about it, they’re not just asking for details about transgenderism. They’re also asking for comfort and affirmation. As a parent, you can respond positively:

  • I’m so glad God made you a girl!
  • I’m happy you’re my child and that you’re a boy.
  • What’s good about being a girl?
  • What’s good about being a boy?

Ask the Lord for wisdom and creativity for how best to affirm your sons in their masculinity and your daughters in their femininity.

Bruce Jenner: “Call me Caitlyn” Dear Bruce: “I Can’t”

SOURCE:  Joe Dallas

I know what you’re asking, and with respect and sadness, I’ve got to say no.

Jenner as Woman

We know you feel that you’ve always been a woman in a man’s body – we saw the interviews and the magazine covers – and we’ve been anticipating photogenic proof of your new identity for months now. Well, as of today, the cat’s out of the bag. Your upcoming Vanity Fair cover shot’s gone viral, and there you are, posed and dressed as a female, saying “Call me Caitlyn.”

But honestly, Bruce, I can’t. If you really don’t care for your prior name, then I could call you other things. Like Accomplished, for sure, and Beloved of God. I’d also go with Valued, as one of the millions Christ died for; Intelligent, from all I’ve seen and heard; and Gifted (there’s a no-brainer!) both in athletics and articulation. I’ll gladly call you all of those, because they fit. But calling you Caitlyn isn’t an option, because I believe that to do so is to join you in a well-orchestrated delusion. I guess to your thinking, Caitlyn’s the real you. But to mine, she’s a
real myth.

Not that you care, and why should you? You’re an icon with a dazzling Olympic resume; I’m an unknown blogger who cheered you on decades ago and today has an opinion contrary to yours. But it’s an opinion shared by millions who hold the old-fashion notion that the sex we’re given at birth is a permanent assignment, not open to renegotiation or refashioning. So speaking as one of many who’ve admired you deeply, but are now bewildered and distressed over your high-profile transition, let me respond to your public request.

I Can’t Because We’re Planned —
The child you were born as became a man who’s trying to become a woman, but who began, in fact, as a boy. And that was no accident.

One of the first things said about any newborn human is a sexual identification – “It’s a boy!”, or, “It’s a girl!” That’s instinctive; nobody teaches us to say that, yet we do because the sex we’re born with is something we both acknowledge
and celebrate.

But more than that, it’s a primary characteristic; a divine and critical distinctive, endowed on each of us by a Creator who knows beforehand who and what we’ll be. (Jeremiah 1:5) And that “what” is foreordained for life.

It’s part of the distinction God Himself created from the beginning, a male/female distinction He placed such high value on when He said, in essence, that the human experience would be incomplete without it. (Genesis 2:18) So the body we’re given at birth, including its male or female status, matters hugely. It’s foreknown, assigned, immutable. Attempting to change it is not only impossible; it’s an affront to the Designer’s competence and selection.

You’ve publicly said, “Bruce lived a lie every day,” and for you to say such a thing, you must really have felt your manhood was, in fact, a falsehood. But isn’t it possible, and really more feasible, to instead see it as an endowment which, for reasons we may not understand, you never felt comfortable with? To my thinking, the lie was the discomfort, not the endowment. Rejecting that very thing which identified you from the womb is what seems to be the ultimate in dishonesty.

— and I Can’t Because What’s Planned Overrides our Passions
I’ll be the first to admit I don’t relate to the transgender experience. I’ve never wished to be anything but male, so I won’t pretend I know what your struggle’s been like in that regard.

And yet, I kinda get it. Because I know what it’s like having people tell you that you are what you are, and that you cannot change what you are, even if you feel you must. That much I understand, because, somewhat like you, I’ve been told I couldn’t change the unchangeable.

31 years ago I repented of homosexual behavior and disowned the identification of “gay.” Three years later I married. Old friends told me I couldn’t change what I was, that my marriage would be a sham, that it would never last, that I was deluded. That was 28 years ago, and both my marriage and the family it produced, though very imperfect, is just about everything to me. It’s certainly more than I ever thought I’d have.

So I get it. I appreciate the need to stand your ground, even when everyone seems to be saying it’s quicksand. But how, really, do we determine the difference?
I think it gets down to how we got here, and Who arranged it. If we as people just happened – no Creator; no plan – then what we feel is the final determinant.

But if we’re created beings, then what matters is not so much what we feel we are, but what our Creator says we are. And conformity to His plan, evidenced both by the sex He assigned us and the standards He’s commissioned us in Scripture, takes priority over what we feel, no matter how passionate and deeply ingrained the feelings may be.

Look at it another way. If I said that all my life I’ve felt like Napoleon Bonaparte, despite all physical and factual evidence to the contrary, and that I was therefore going to modify my body to look like his, you’d logically tell me that my problem was my feelings, not my body. If I protested by saying that I felt Joe Dallas was a lie and Napoleon was the truth, you’d perhaps appreciate how passionately I felt, but you’d still conclude (again, logically) that the problem was my feeling, or my self-concept, or my identity. But not my body. You’d encourage me to see my false belief as a thing to resist rather than indulge. And surely, were I to say, “Call me Napoleon”, you’d pass.

Which is why I, and countless others, will also pass on your request to be called Caitlyn. Because no matter how artfully you reconfigure your male body, it will remain, at best, a re-configured male body. Never female; always the sex you were assigned. And that both bothers and even frightens us, because there are those who made the same decision, came to regret it, and found themselves horribly disillusioned because the drastic move they undertook to solve their conflict didn’t solve it at all.

But who knows where all this is going? There are others who’ve made the decision you made, regretted it, but then reversed it as best they could, finding peace with God and themselves in the process. My fervent prayer is that you become one of them, reclaiming the man you were meant to be while renouncing the falsehood of a woman who – again, with all due respect – I firmly believe you can never become.

“As soon as the Vanity Fair cover comes out I’m free,” you recently said.

Well, God love ya, Bruce, I see it another way. I think your belief in Caitlyn is the vanity. And I hope and trust that as soon as that vanity comes out, and in its place Christ comes in and reigns, then and only then will the myth be put to rest. And that’s when the man so many of us miss will find himself to be truly free.

God’s will be done. We sincerely wish you the best.

 

Seeing Me As God Sees Me

SOURCE:  Living Free/Martha Homme, MA, LPC

“Your life is safe in the care of the LORD your God, secure in his treasure pouch!” 1 Samuel 25:29 NLT

What makes you feel good about yourself?

We too often seek self-worth in the wrong places.

Thinness, performance and control do not equal significance and wholeness. We are important because God designed and created us. …Because he loved us so much that he sent his only Son, Jesus, to die on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven and we could live with him forever. We are his treasure and he wants to protect us, to keep us “secure in his treasure pouch.” When we don’t recognize that God loves us unconditionally, we set ourselves up for rejection, shame, guilt, hopelessness and powerlessness.

An eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia can be brought about by a person’s attempt to feel better about herself. This problem affects as many as eleven million women and men in the United States alone. Although sufferers are mostly girls and women, an increasing number of boys and men are affected as well.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, it is vital that you seek medical help, as well as counseling from a professional. And remember that you are special because God created you and loves you unconditionally. In his eyes you are significant; you are his treasure. Through Jesus you can find safety, security and a sense of belonging.

The Bible promises that nothing can separate you from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39). Turn to him today. Thank him for loving you. Thank him for making you a special person. And ask him to help you overcome your eating disorder. You can do all things with his help.

Father, it is so difficult for me to see myself as an attractive, cared for, valuable person. Help me begin to understand how special I am to you. Help me to see myself through your eyes. In Jesus’ name …. . .

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These thoughts were drawn from …

Seeing Yourself in God’s Image: Overcoming Anorexia and Bulimia by Martha Homme, MA, LPC

Sexual Addiction: Help for Female Sex Addicts

SOURCE:  Rob Jackson, MS, LPC, LMHC, NCC

While sex addiction affects both males and females, the challenges faced by female addicts are greater.

Sex addiction is never really about sex, but about a hungry heart that craves intimacy. Sex is merely the vehicle that a person uses to find nurture and acceptance. This is the same mechanism of action at work in alcohol, drug, and other addictions.

While sex addiction affects both males and females, the challenges faced by female addicts are greater. As a foundation to understanding the unique plight of female sex addicts, a better understanding of sex addiction in general will be helpful.

Understanding sex addiction
Research varies on the prevalence of sex addiction and it is difficult to state with certainty that one gender has a higher incidence of sex addiction than the other does. Estimates of sex addiction range from three to ten percent within the general population. Dr. Patrick Carnes’ research has indicated that approximately 20% of those seeking help for sex addiction are female. This male female ratio is consistent with that found among recovering alcoholics.

Some of the factors that push sex addiction include the need to medicate emotional pain or escape an unsatisfactory situation, and the impulsive or even compulsive quest to satisfy unmet emotional needs. In short, sex addiction is best viewed as an attachment or intimacy disorder.

Regardless of gender, sex addicts are prone to multiple addictions and typically come from severely dysfunctional families. This is not always the case, however. In the majority of cases, at least one other member of the family has an addiction as well. Multiple addictions occur when an addict is addicted to sex and at least one other thing. For females, eating disorders are common, as is chemical dependency, and compulsions for work, spending, and gambling.

Women continue to be underrepresented in health and addiction studies. Many individuals, both professionals and non professionals, assume sex addiction is for men only. Research demonstrates that the majority of abuse survivors are female, making them more susceptible to addiction. Sadly, however, many females will go undiagnosed and often treatment of past sex abuse will be too limited to prevent later sex addiction. Even if counselors recognize that females can be sexually addicted, they may fail to recognize the feminine nuances that typically define female sex addiction.

The impact of childhood sexual abuse
A high correlation exists between childhood abuse and sex addiction in adulthood. Varieties of abuse include verbal, emotional, physical, sexual, and spiritual abuse. Each of these types of abuse can be either obvious or hidden. For example, obvious verbal abuse involves the misuse of words, tone, and volume. A hidden type of verbal abuse is the failure to affirm someone with words of love and encouragement. More often than not, two or more types of abuse have occurred in the developmental history of sex addiction. When one considers the need for intimacy to be the primary motivator of a human being, it’s easy to see how abuse of any type undermines this core need and damages one’s ability to foster healthy attachment to others.

The double edge of females’ need for relationship
Females are generally more relational and nurturing than males. Their roles develop from playing dolls and babysitting to bearing and caring for children of their own. Even as wives and adult daughters, most women continue to provide the larger portion of nurture found in family life. This feminine giving of self is a godly attribute when done in a healthy, balanced way. The greater reception to relationship, however, can be both blessing and curse if the female’s trust in others has been violated by one or more forms of abuse. The hunger to connect remains, but it becomes combined with fear and mistrust. A false self may emerge as the female inadvertently seeks to protect herself from further exploitation. Left to her own fallen human nature, an exploited female may to seek to protect herself psychologically with various defenses and manipulations – both sexual and non-sexual. It’s not difficult to understand how a sexually wounded female might want to regain the innocence that was stolen from her during a vulnerable moment.

Without treatment and a safe recovery path, an exploited female may inadvertently use her sexuality either to punish men or herself. Sadly, the untreated sex abuse survivor often maintains distorted thoughts of how she and the perpetrator share blame for the abuse. The seductive survivor can be motivated to get even by enticing men. The closet female sex addict riddled with shame and self-contempt may punish herself by seeking to meet sexual needs privately and compulsively versus investing in an intimate relationship with her husband. Alternatively, she may starve herself sexually. Whatever the behavior, either obvious or hidden, it remains “the tip of the iceberg” where inner motivations laced with anger often remain a profound mystery for the addict and those who love her.

It is important to note that while all traumatic experiences affect us negatively, those involving abuse during childhood deeply affect the way we navigate life as adults. If you have suffered abuse in your past, please consider seeking out the professional treatment of a trained Christian counselor who specializes in this issue. Fear of disturbing old wounds may initially keep you from seeking out such help. Understand, however, that healing and resolving the wounds of your past will open up opportunities to live a healthier and happier life and will go a long way to preventing these damaged emotions and behaviors from being passed down to your children.

Unique challenges for the female sex addict

Gateways
For the last 50 years, our culture has promoted a heightened sexuality where children, particularly girls, are hyper eroticized with seductive fashions designed for adults. Particularly immodest clothing—or clothing designed to drawn unnecessary attention to the body—alters how a young girl views herself and presents herself to others. In turn, fashion also alters how others react to her. The culture’s emphasis on seductive media and casual sex, typified by the magazines in supermarket checkout lanes, can also serve as gateways to sex addiction.

The responsibility to identify this cultural trap rests with parents, but it’s not easy to wage an effective defense against the onslaught of sexualized media messages. The best defense begins in early childhood where both parents maintain an ongoing dialogue with their child about the blessings and responsibilities of sexuality. When parents approach this topic relationally during early childhood development, children are spiritually and emotionally empowered to make better choices as adolescents and adults.

Double Standards
Female addicts often suffer a greater social stigma and inner shame than do male addicts. Society promotes the stereotypes of “boys will be boys” and “good girls don’t,” even while grooming females to play the coy seductress. Female addicts may compartmentalize their sexually addicted self from the roles of wife, mother, and Sunday school teacher. This type of denial, duplicity, or splitting off only serves to strengthen the addiction, given the secrecy of a double life.

As Christians, we recognize that before God “there is neither …male nor female” (Galatians 3:28), thus double standards don’t exist within the mind of God. In His great compassion, God hates sin (not the sinner) and the traumatic effect it has on His children. The promotion of godly living for both males and females will pave the road to equal treatment and respect.

Special Considerations for Female Sex Addicts

The nuances of female sex addiction can perhaps best be explained by looking at the body, mind, and spirit connection.

The Body Physically and physiologically, males and females are obviously different. The less obvious factors encompassed in the physicality of being female include a woman’s innate desire to look attractive and her more complicated sexual arousal and release. When too great an emphasis is given to the body because of the culture, exploitation, or addiction, the balance of the inner woman is disturbed.

The Mind Mentally and emotionally, females are typically aroused in different ways than males. Where men tend to be visual and have greater interests in a woman’s body, or sadly, just parts of her body, women tend to remain relational – even in their attraction and arousal. For example, gateways for feminine arousal will often include ambience or environmental setting, the personality traits of the man, and how he seems to nurture her with attention. These factors are often exploited in soap operas, romance novels, and other things traditionally targeted to females.

The Spirit While both sexes suffered spiritual damage from the fall of humanity, the consequences for males and females are different. One consequence for females is that the woman’s “desire will be for (her) husband” (Genesis 3:10). This may account for greater vulnerability in females. Their hearts are turned more to their masculine counterparts, than, perhaps, men’s are toward women. This vulnerability is not inherently bad, but it can foster a heightened need for masculine approval.

The Recovery Goal
Ultimately, the recovery goal of a female sex addict is not unlike that of the male addict, but her journey differs from that of men. She must learn to harmonize her body, mind, and spirit in a way that affirms God’s design. In her feminine spirit, she is unique and her personality bears the creativity of God. Supports for her will include personal accountability, professional counseling, and participation in the community of faith and in recovery groups if available. Like the male addict, the female must get beneath the behavior in order to heal distorted thoughts, damaged emotions, and a wounded spirit.

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Rob Jackson is a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice who specializes in intimacy disorders, including sex addiction and codependency.

9 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT MALE BODY IMAGE ISSUES

Source:  The Gospel Coalition/Joe Carter

Body image is the mental representation we create of what we think we look like; it may or may not bear a close relation to how others actually see us. Body image issues are often treated as if they were only a problem for women (see here for 9 Things on female body images issues). But men suffer from many of the same debilitating problems caused by skewed perceptions of their bodies. Here are nine things you should know about male body image issues:

1. When it comes to weight concerns, a key difference between young men and young women is that females want to be thinner, while males tend to feel pressure to gain weight. “There are some males who do want to be thinner and are focused on thinness,” says Dr. Alison Field, an associate professor of pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital, “but many more are focused on wanting bigger or at least more toned and defined muscles. That’s a very different physique.”

2. One common body image problem for men is dissatisfaction with their muscularity (i.e., with having well-developed muscles). Research suggests that exposure to the media ideal of muscularity, and not muscularity per se, elicits body dissatisfaction in men with pre-existing muscularity concerns.

3. According to The Atlantic, even toys contribute to the distorted messages boys receive about the ideal male form. In the last decade or two, action figures have lost a tremendous proportion of fat and added a substantial proportion of muscle. “Only 1 or 2 percent of [males] actually have that body type,” says Dr. Raymond Lemberg, a clinical psychologist and expert on male eating disorders. “We’re presenting men in a way that is unnatural.”

4. Muscle dysmorphia – a pathological preoccupation with muscularity – appears to be a form of body dysmorphic disorder with a focus on muscularity (bodybuilders sometimes refer to this condition as “bigorexia”). One study found that those with muscle dysmorphia were more likely to have attempted suicide, had poorer quality of life, and had a higher frequency of any substance use disorder and anabolic steroid abuse.

5. A national study of adolescent boys published in JAMA Pediatrics found that males with high concerns about thinness but not muscularity were more likely to develop high depressive symptoms. Males with high concerns about muscularity and thinness were more likely than their peers to use drugs, and males with high concerns about muscularity who used supplements and other products to enhance physique were more likely to start binge drinking frequently and using drugs

6. Nationwide, about 4 percent of male high school students have taken steroids without a doctor’s prescription. The prevalence of having ever taken steroids without a doctor’s prescription was higher among Hispanic (4.2 percent) than white (2.8 percent) and black (2.3 percent) students.

7. A survey in the U.K. found that four out of five men confess to being unhappy about their body. Thirty-five percent of respondents said they would trade a year of their life to achieve their ideal body weight or shape.

8. Research studies have found that approximately 4 percent of male college undergraduates are at risk for an eating disorder. The proportion of the male population estimated to have a condition at some point in their lifetime is 0.3 percent for anorexia nervosa, 0.5 percent bulimia nervosa, and 2.0 percent for binge eating disorder.

9. The only complete way to overcome the problem is to have our beliefs about body image transformed by the Holy Spirit. As Heather Davis Nelson says in the Journal of Biblical Counseling:

In pursuing worldly beauty, we strive to become this elusive image in place of who we really are. You and I are created in the image of the living God. Our purpose is to reflect His image to the world. But since the fall, we let the world inscribe its image on us. It is the very picture of sin and ultimately death. Instead of being transformed to God’s image, we conform to the world’s image. We are hopelessly stuck in a lifeless cycle, exchanging God for the creature as our object of worship. But God in His mercy rescued us! In love, God sent Jesus Christ to take on the consequences of our idolatrous affair. He became sin so that we might become righteous. In Christ, God gives us freedom from sin’s power now and hope for its eradication in heaven. God makes you beautiful with the beauty of His Son, Jesus. It is in gazing at God’s image in Jesus Christ that you are transformed. Romans 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, I urge you, (sisters) in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

9 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT FEMALE BODY IMAGE ISSUES

SOURCE:  The Gospel Coalition/Joe Carter

Body image is the mental representation we create of what we think we look like; it may or may not bear a close relation to how others actually see us. Here are nine things you should know about female body image issues:

1. The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty hired a criminal sketch artist to draw women as they see themselves and as others see them. The social experiment revealed that women’s perceptions of themselves were very different than how others view them.

2. According to the CDC, for women ages 20 years old and older, the average height for women in America is 5’3″ and weight is 166.2 pounds. For fashion models the average is 5’10” and 120 pounds.

3. By age 6, girls start to express concerns about their own weight or shape. 40-60% of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat. This concern endures through life.

4. The best-known contributor to the development of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa is body dissatisfaction. The median ages for onset of an eating disorder in adolescents is 12- to 13-years-old. In the United States, 20 million women suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life.

5. Only four percent of women globally consider themselves beautiful.*

6. A global survey found that two thirds of women strongly agree that “the media and advertising set an unrealistic standard of beauty that most women can’t ever achieve.”

7. Researchers have found that “fat talk”—a phenomena in which a person makes negative claims about their weight to others—is an expected norm among women and a way for them to appear more modest.

8. A study published in the Journal of Eating Disorders found that while “fat talk” tended to decrease with age, “old talk” often came in to replace it, and that both were reported by women who appeared to have a negative body image.

9. The only complete way to overcome the problem is to have our beliefs about body image transformed by the Holy Spirit. As Heather Davis Nelson says in the Journal of Biblical Counseling:

In pursuing worldly beauty, we strive to become this elusive image in place of who we really are. You and I are created in the image of the living God. Our purpose is to reflect His image to the world. But since the fall, we let the world inscribe its image on us. It is the very picture of sin and ultimately death. Instead of being transformed to God’s image, we conform to the world’s image. We are hopelessly stuck in a lifeless cycle, exchanging God for the creature as our object of worship. But God in His mercy rescued us! In love, God sent Jesus Christ to take on the consequences of our idolatrous affair. He became sin so that we might become righteous. In Christ, God gives us freedom from sin’s power now and hope for its eradication in heaven. God makes you beautiful with the beauty of His Son, Jesus. It is in gazing at God’s image in Jesus Christ that you are transformed. Romans 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, I urge you, (sisters) in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

*Update: The post originally quoted the 2004 study that found only two percent of women globally consider themselves beautiful. A follow-on study in 2010 found the percentage had increased to four percent.

Family Dysfunction: The “Rigid” Family

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by Living Free

“So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.Luke 15:20 NIV (Prodigal son returning)

“Then his father Isaac said to him, ‘Come here, my son, and kiss me.’ So he went to him and kissed him.” Genesis 27:26-27 NIV (Isaac and Jacob)

“So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him.” Exodus 18:7 NIV

“Jacob was half blind because of his age and could hardly see. So Joseph brought the boys close to him, and Jacob kissed and embraced them.” Genesis 48:10 NLT (a grandfather’s kiss)

[There are] five types of dysfunctional families (described in The Thin Disguise by Pam Vredevelt) that can lead to the development of eating disorders. Perhaps you or someone you know has a loved one struggling with an eating disorder. Or perhaps you will identify some potentially harmful characteristic that needs to be addressed in your family.

Healthy families are warm and affectionate. Rules, as well as people, are flexible. In dysfunctional “Rigid Families” flexibility is a nonexistent concept, and affection is seldom expressed. The father especially tends to be obsessive about the standards in the family. There is no warmth, no emotion. Each family member should be able to take care of himself or herself. This emotional neglect leads the child to believe that emotions and longings are wrong.

We serve a loving God who demonstrates his love for us in so many tangible ways. And so he wants us to show love through our words and actions. This is especially important in our family relationships. Our children need physical demonstrations and verbal expressions of our love. Nurturing—hugging, kissing or saying “I love you”—is so important.

[The above] Scriptures are examples of family members showing their love for one another with embraces and kisses. Appropriate, healthy demonstrations of our love for each other can mean so much in our relationships and in the emotional and spiritual development of our children.

Father, I thank you so much for my children. Thank you for demonstrating your fatherly love to me in so many ways. Help me to be warm and affectionate with my children. Help them to develop emotionally and spiritually in a way that is pleasing to you. In Jesus’ name …

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These thoughts were drawn from …

Seeing Yourself in God’s Image: Overcoming Anorexia and Bulimia by Martha Homme, MA, LPC. 

Family Dysfunction: The “Controlling” Family

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by Living Free

“Beware that you don’t look down on any of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father.” Matthew 18:10 NLT

[There are] five types of dysfunctional families (described in The Thin Disguise by Pam Vredevelt) that tend to foster the development of eating disorders. Perhaps you or someone you know has a loved one struggling with an eating disorder. Or perhaps you will identify some area of family relationships that you need to address in your family.

A healthy level of protection is necessary for the nurturing and survival of any family. In a dysfunctional “Controlling Family” the control is carried to extremes and children are sometimes overprotective. They have different rules from those of their friends. They are smothered in an effort to control every possible danger or problem.

Parents in a controlling family often try to live their lives through their children. These parents have “unfinished business”—a major goal, need or expectation that was not fulfilled in their own pasts—and are trying to accomplish through their children what they had failed to do themselves.

Parents in controlling families often exert influence through guilt and shame. “You are so fortunate your mother and I are willing to _____.”

Hostile control comes most often from the mother and may be in the form of overt or covert control. It can include yelling, screaming or hysteria over something as minor as leaving a wet towel on the floor. Yet there is little consistency in that the same infraction may cause no reaction whatsoever the next day.

These types of excessive control teach the child, “My feelings and thoughts and opinions don’t count. It is wrong to have them.”

In [the above] Scripture, Jesus cautions us “not to look down on these little ones.” Excessive control shows little respect for our children and is a form of looking down on them. Although God wants us to teach them and discipline them in love, to train them in the way that they should go, he also wants us to recognize them as his special creation placed in our care. As parents, we need to teach them that their feelings and thoughts are important to God—and to us.

Father, help me to provide a healthy level of protection for my children, but not to demonstrate any kind of excessive or hostile control. Help me to teach them how special they are in your eyes—and to always demonstrate how important they are to me. Help me guide them in developing the special gifts and talents you have given them and encourage them to become the individuals you have designed them to be. In Jesus’ name …

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These thoughts were drawn from …

Seeing Yourself in God’s Image: Overcoming Anorexia and Bulimia by Martha Homme, MA, LPC. 

Family Dysfunction: The “Rageaholic” Family

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by Living Free

“Discipline your son while there is hope, but do not [indulge your angry resentments by undue chastisements and] set yourself to his ruin.” 

Proverbs 19:18 AMP

[There are] five types of dysfunctional families (described in The Thin Disguise by Pam Vredevelt) that can lead to the development of eating disorders. Perhaps you or someone you know has a loved one struggling with an eating disorder. Or perhaps you will identify some potentially harmful characteristic that needs to be addressed in your family.

In the “Rageaholic Family” only the parents (one or both) are allowed to express feelings. The predominant feeling is rage or anger. Unfortunately, the children are taught to believe that they are responsible for that anger. Mothers in rageaholic families may have anger and rage from their family of origin, and in some cases the daughter becomes an “emotional receptacle” for that rage. Although the mother is in actuality angry with herself and her parents, she pushes that anger onto her daughter.

Children in rageaholic families learn to repress their anger completely. This repressed anger can cause stress, bitterness and depression, leading to many types of inappropriate behavior.

Although there are appropriate times to discipline our children—always in love—we are not to be controlled by anger. And sometimes anger vented on children does not even relate to their behavior—it comes from a parent struggling with rage or bitterness caused by something else altogether. [The above] Scripture makes it clear that angry resentments and undue chastisements can lead to our child’s ruin.

Father, forgive me for sometimes taking out my anger on my children. Help me to admit when I’ve been wrong and allow my children to see that they are not at fault for my unfair words and actions. Help me to be sensitive to my children’s honest feelings and to allow them to feel safe in expressing them. In Jesus’ name …

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These thoughts were drawn from …

Seeing Yourself in God’s Image: Overcoming Anorexia and Bulimia by Martha Homme, MA, LPC.

Family Dysfunction: The “Perfectionistic” Family

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by  Living Free

“Fathers, do not provoke or irritate your children [do not be hard on them or harass them], lest they become discouraged and sullen and morose and feel inferior and frustrated. [Do not break their spirit.].” Colossians 3:21 AMP

Certain dysfunctional behavioral patterns often characterize the families of people with eating disorders. [We] are looking at five types of dysfunctional families (described in The Thin Disguise by Pam Vredevelt) that tend to foster these disorders. Perhaps you or someone you know has a loved one struggling with an eating disorder. Or perhaps you will identify some area of family relationships that you need to address in your family.

In healthy families, children are taught to excel, to capitalize on their strengths, to recognize their weaknesses and to recover and learn from their mistakes. In the dysfunctional “Perfectionistic Family,” each member must be an overachiever, never falling short in anything—standards that are, of course, impossible to achieve. This family has a need to be regarded as all good and picture perfect. They put great emphasis on family appearance. Focus is also often on body appearance. In perfectionistic families, children are told, “Just do the best you can.” But when they do the best they can, it is not quite good enough.

An expectation of perfectionism—in ourselves or others—is totally unrealistic and can lead to discouragement and frustration. [The above Scripture] cautions parents not to be too hard on their children—”lest they become discouraged and sullen and morose and feel inferior and frustrated.”

God wants us to teach our children, to discipline them in love, and to motivate them to good works—but not to place unrealistic expectations on them.

Father, teach me to find the right balance in training my children in the way they should go. Help me to be wise and sensitive, helping them to understand how special they are and that you have a special purpose for their lives. Help me not to discourage or frustrate, but to encourage. I thank you for the patience and grace you extend to me—help me to show my children your kind of patience and grace. In Jesus’ name …

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These thoughts were drawn from …

Seeing Yourself in God’s Image: Overcoming Anorexia and Bulimia by Martha Homme, MA, LPC. 

Family Dysfunction: The “Upside Down” Family

SOURCE: Adapted from an article by Living Free

“After all, children don’t provide for their parents. Rather, parents provide for their children.” 2 Corinthians 12:14 NLT

Millions of people in the United States, and an increasing number in non-Western countries, struggle with eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. The majority of these people are girls in the teens or twenties, but children as young as six and individuals as old as 76 have been reported with eating disorders. Also, although this is often looked at as a female problem, researchers at Harvard University Medical School have new data that suggests that up to 25% of adults with eating disorders are male.  www.anred.com/stats.html 4/9/2008

Certain dysfunctional behavioral patterns often characterize the families of young people with eating disorders. [There are] five types of dysfunctional families (described in The Thin Disguise by Pam Vredevelt) that tend to foster these disorders. Perhaps you or someone you know has a loved one struggling with an eating disorder. Or perhaps you will identify some area of family relationships that you need to address in your family.

The first family [type] is “The Upside Down Family.”

In this family, the child meets the emotional needs of the parents—primarily the mother—rather than the other way around. (Physical and financial needs may be adequately met in these families, but both parents often severely neglect emotional needs.) Often the father’s love must be earned by the child’s behavior. This situation teaches children that their own needs are not nearly as important as those of their parents. As these children learn to suppress and deny their needs, they eventually become so out of touch with their own needs that by the time they reach adolescence, they are no longer aware of what their needs are. At this point, their unmet needs are so tremendous that they begin to fall apart and demand that someone give them attention. The onset of an eating disorder often takes place at this time.

[The above] scripture is specifically addressing financial needs, but biblical teaching makes it clear that God has given parents the responsibility to provide for their children physically, financially, emotionally and spiritually. Our Heavenly Father is our ultimate example of a caring and nurturing parent.

Father, please show me if I am failing to meet my child’s needs in any way. Help me to be the kind of parent you want me to be. Help me to walk in obedience to your Word and to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name …


These thoughts were drawn from …

Seeing Yourself in God’s Image: Overcoming Anorexia and Bulimia by Martha Homme, MA, LPC. 

Eat to Live or Live to Eat?

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by Karl Benzio/Stepping Stones/Lighthouse Network

We need God. We won’t enjoy life, be fulfilled in life, or attain our God-given potential without closeness to Him. God desires that for us as well. But, so many factors and forces keep us from this closeness to God, and unfortunately, eating disorders are one of those forces.

Thirty to fifty percent of our society struggles with significant eating issues that disrupt their lives, ranging from binging, chronic overeating and obesity, to anorexia. Coming from a long line of Italian women and good cooking, this really hits home with me.

“Eating Disorder” simply means unhealthy habits like restricting nutritional intake, overeating (yes, this is a large part of our American society), or being obsessed with, being overly focused on, or actually worshipping the elements, rituals, or the results of eating or dieting. It actually becomes a real addiction.

People tend to get so preoccupied with body image and what others think, that they develop a distorted view of themselves. Their over concern or lack of concern about food, diet, body, and weight even begin to affect their health, relationships, and the ability to physically function in day-to-day life.

Like almost every other object in life, God gave us food to use in moderation. Too much isn’t good, but not enough isn’t good either. Our body is a temple for the Holy Spirit to reside in and God wants us to be good stewards of our body and health. But more importantly, we need to look at the psychological and spiritual aspects of our eating habits.

If you are struggling with food or weight, determine not to let your focus on your body or food keep you from closeness with God and with others. Decide how you wish to spend your energy: pursuing the “perfect” image or the comfort that food brings, or focusing on your perfect healer for spiritual growth and your true daily bread and nourishment.

The outside – what man sees, or the inside – what God sees? Society changes its view of what is beautiful … styles come and go. But God’s view of beauty never changes.

Identifying and challenging your distorted thoughts and feelings about your body and food, and keeping God’s view in mind is essential to accepting yourself and your body. We all have feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. Don’t let food or your body image become your soothing mechanism. Let God and His grace and love bring you the peace you really are hungry for and crave. He is one buffet where you can eat all you want without consequences! Indulge to your heart’s true content!

As you approach food and eat meals, examine the importance you put on these elements. What do you get out of it? Are food and your eating habits a coping mechanism for you? Are you getting healthier, or are you harming your health? Remember, your value as a person is not based on how you look or what you do. Your value is based on the unchangeable fact that God loves you so much that He gave His son, Jesus, to die on the cross for you. Eating issues are about believing lies.  Using food as a gift from God, or an idol that adversely impacts you life is your decision, so choose well.

Dear Father God, I’ve been pretty confused lately. I’ve been so concerned about food or used it to comfort myself that I’ve ignored You. Relationships with those I care about have suffered as well. Please help me begin thinking more clearly … to see me from Your point of view. I know I need to eat to live, but I don’t want to live to eat or let food and meals distract me from Your peace for me. Help me turn control over to you, instead of being controlled by the next meal I think about. I pray this in the name of the One who loves me as I am, Jesus Christ;  – AMEN!

The Truth
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. 

Romans 12:1-2

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” 

1 Samuel 16:7

Bulimia: The New Normal

SOURCE: Ed Welch/CCEF

Bulimia is the new normal.

The thin and wealthy specialize in it, but you can be sure that it is a cornerstone of any culture in which the preferred body type is thinner than is actually possible on a normal diet.  You’ll find it in any culture that is obsessed with looking younger or where everyone is looking for that elusive weight-loss secret.

True story: parents protested when a youth group leader began talking about eating disorders. Why? They were concerned that their daughters would gain weight.

It begins with a desire to be thinner. Once purging is discovered, young women talk about it as if it were their best friend, or their narcotic addiction. “The feeling I got afterward was amazing!” Then they discover other benefits, most notably a sense that they can, finally, be in control of something. And don’t you dare stand between them and the object of their affection!

Two questions to those who practice it.

First, if you have any interest in God, does the secretive essence of this behavior concern you? Secrets separate relationships. They separate friends and spouses, and become a private place in which you hide from God.

Second, has it improved your life? The answer to that is easy: no. But you say: “So what? It works for me.” Perhaps you feel as though nothing will improve your life so you might as well be thin while you go through the drudgery and misery.

Consider this from another angle.

If you are a near-daily practitioner of purging, you are saying much more than “I want to be thin.” The word control is almost always a part of bulimic vocabulary. You have been controlled or dependent on the whims of people who treated you poorly, and you are sick of it. You live with incessant self-loathing and suicidal hopelessness and bulimia gives you some sense of control over this darkness. Its benefits, however, are ephemeral and fleeting.

Human beings were intended to turn to their Maker and Father when life is hard. Left to our own devices, life just gets more out-of-control. Think of yourself as a child. It is right and good for a child to run to a parent when life is overwhelming. God knows your secrets. He knows what you need.

If this sounds too familiar and you don’t know how to even begin leaving it behind, go to the psalms and borrow some of those words. God will surprise you. He is not like those who have hurt, criticized or rejected you. To the contrary, you are the one who has shunned him, yet he keeps knocking on the door and pursuing you (Rev. 3:20).

Becoming The Best Possible You

SOURCE:  Leslie Vernick

When I was a child, I never liked being me. I always thought that I wasn’t pretty enough, smart enough, popular enough, or skinny enough.

I was never invited to the birthday parties of the more popular girls in my school and always felt inferior. My parents divorced when I was eight, and I felt awkward making new friends.

You might say I grew up having a poor self-image and low self-esteem. I didn’t like myself, and sometimes I even tried to become someone else. I’d copy one of the more popular girls laugh, or dress, hoping that if I could look more like her, people would like me. I remember in 5th grade vigorously rubbing the top of my nose hoping to create a big Jewish bump so I could be like all the other pretty girls in my classroom. All I got was a red nose!

Even as adults, we still struggle with these same problems, don’t we? We feel inferior, like we don’t belong. We tell ourselves that we’re not as good or as together, or as spiritual, or organized, or loving, as other people we see. We compare and contrast our lives, our looks, our jobs, our families, and our bank accounts and ask ourselves “Do I measure up? Am I good enough?”

Comparing ourselves to others will never give us any lasting sense of self-esteem or confidence. Depending on whom we’re measuring ourselves against, we will always feel inferior or superior. When you play the comparison game and look up the ladder, you will always find those who are smarter, prettier, thinner, richer, more organized, and more disciplined than you are.

Therefore, I have learned that the goal in becoming the best possible me is to realize that God never asks me to change myself into a different person, but he does want to change me. He wants me to become the best possible version of myself. The person he created me to become.

The ultimate makeover isn’t done at the cosmetic counter, the gym, in a fancy department store, or by a plastic surgeon, but by God. But he always works best with our consent and our cooperation. You and I are always in the process of becoming.   We are either becoming a better version of ourselves or worse one. We are becoming healthier as people or not, more godly or more sinful, more Christ-like or more self-oriented. Which direction we’re heading is very much up to us.

I have a friend who loves antique furniture. She has an eye that can spot treasures amidst junk. Foraging through garage sales, auctions, and flea markets, she redeems pieces of furniture destined to be discarded by those of us less able to see its true value. But she doesn’t stop there. After she redeems the furniture, she sets about restoring its original beauty. First she starts with a thorough cleansing. She must remove any dirt, soot, debris and old paint that have accumulated through years of neglect. Then she painstakingly fills in the cracks, polishes the hardware, sands, waxes, and rubs and rubs until the warm, rich, patina of the wood is restored. She brings forth its’ true image, the original beauty and design that had been disguised by neglect, damage and false coverings.

Our original design as God’s image bearers has been tarnished by sin, both our own sin, and the sin of others against us. As human beings, even the best of our efforts fall short of God’s original plan. Yet, in the sovereign grace of God, he not only offers to forgive our sins, he desires to restore us so that we might participate in his divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). Our destiny as human beings is to reflect God’s image in our human body (2 Corinthians 4:10-11). Yet, many of us settle for far less than God intends.

As God’s children, he tells us that we are his image bearers, and, as we mature, we are to look more and more like Him. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a young Lutheran pastor, was imprisoned and eventually martyred in Germany under Adolf Hitler’s regime. In his classic book The Cost of Discipleship he writes, “Every man bears an image. Either man models himself on the god of his own invention, or the true living God molds the human form into His image. There must be a complete transformation, a ‘metamorphosis’ if man is to be restored to the image of God.”

The good news of the gospel of Christ is that God doesn’t just redeem us, he restores us. My question for you to ask yourself is this:  Are you becoming the best possible version of yourself or have you settled for an inferior version?

Please Love Me!

SOURCE:  Living Free

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:38-39 NLT

“I won’t be loved unless I am perfect.”

Perfectionism often comes from a need for love and approval.

Our society, and many of us as individuals and families, determine a person’s value by his or her performance. And so we set out to earn that value . . . We strive to be successful, especially in the eyes of people who mean the most to us. Better job. More money. Higher grades. Greater popularity. Funnier. Smarter. The list goes on . . .

The good news is that God, the Creator of the Universe, loves us unconditionally. We could never earn his love – and we don’t have to. He loved us even when we were running from him.

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8 NLT)

That’s why you are valuable. Not because of what you’ve done, but because God created you just the way you are, and you are important to him. He loves you unconditionally, and nothing can ever separate you from his love.

Consider this … 

When you allow your self-image to plummet because of what others think of you, it’s easy to forget what God thinks of you. You may start thinking . . .

But God, I can’t . . .What if I fail . . .

What if they stop loving me . . .

I would do anything to get their approval . . .

Maybe if I do this better, they will . . .

Instead of molding your life to gain the love and approval of others, focus on God’s love for you.

With Christ’s strength, you can do all things. He has a plan and purpose for your life and will equip you to fulfill it. With God, nothing is impossible.

Prayer

Father, thank you for your unconditional love. Thank you that nothing can ever separate me from your love. Help me to always remember I am special because you care about me and designed me for a purpose. In Jesus’ name . . .


These thoughts were drawn from …

Seeing Yourself in God’s Image: Overcoming Anorexia and Bulimia by Martha Homme, MA, LPC.

Designed by God

Source:  Living Free (12/2/06)

In the United States, an estimated six to eleven million people struggle with eating disorders. Distorted body image and denial of actual body size can trigger eating disordered behavior. Most people falling into the trap of eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia are preoccupied with food and with their body image.

People with this preoccupation usually let their body define who they are. They exaggerate the importance of slimness and are terrified of gaining weight. They are dissatisfied with their body to the point that their day-to-day state of well-being is affected.

Does this describe you or someone you love? I encourage you to ask God to help you see yourself through His eyes. He loves you unconditionally. He created you in His image. In fact, the Bible tells us that God formed our inmost being in our mother’s womb with His plan already in place for our lives. He made you special and unique, equipped with the gifts you need to accomplish His purpose for your journey.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27  (NIV)

When you look in the mirror, remember that you are viewing someone very special, designed by God. Your self-worth does not depend on how much you weigh or even on what you accomplish. You are special because God created you and because He loves you. I encourage you to open your heart up to His love today.

All Shapes and Sizes

People struggling with eating disorders become preoccupied with food and their body image. They become overly concerned about how others see and react to their body size. They tend to feel extremely guilty after eating and think a lot about dieting. Sometimes they even have fears about never being able to stop eating.

If you or someone you care about is experiencing this kind of fear and guilt, here are a few thoughts. Try to accept the fact that bodies come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Remember that we can be our own worst critics and that others really find us attractive. Cut yourself some slack! Allow for normal variations in your weight and shape.

Let yourself enjoy the functions of your body parts, not just how they look. Be thankful that you can use your legs to walk and run, and your arms and hands to do thousands of wonderful things.

Be willing to recognize your strengths in terms of your appearance–the parts of your body that you like–and your personal qualities like caring, enthusiasm, and honesty.

God created you … He loves you … And that makes you very special indeed.

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:8  (NLT)

Choose Your Focus

People with eating disorders tend to get so preoccupied with their body image that they develop a distorted view of themselves. Their concerns about food, diet, body and weight can even begin to affect their relationships and their ability to function in day-to-day life.

If you are in this situation, I encourage you not to let your obsession with your body keep you from closeness with God and with others. Decide how you wish to spend your energy–pursuing the “perfect” image? … Or focusing on your spiritual growth and your personal and interpersonal needs.

Society changes its view of what is beautiful–styles come and go. But God’s view of beauty never changes. Identifying and challenging your negative thoughts and feelings about your body and keeping God’s view in mind are essential to accepting yourself and your body.

Dear friends, God is good. So I beg you to offer your bodies to him as a living sacrifice, pure and pleasing. That’s the most sensible way to serve God. Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him. Romans 12:1-2 (CEV)

Always remember … your value as a person is not based on how you look or what you accomplish. Your value is based on the unchangeable fact that God loves you so much that He gave His son Jesus to die on the cross for you. Reach out to Him today. Receive His love and forgiveness. And thank Him for making you just the way you are.

Focus on the Internal, Not the External

People with eating disorders tend to become very self-focused and overly concerned with being acceptable to other people.

Acceptance of your body is a daily process of perspective. One day you may feel fat and unattractive, and the next day you may feel slim and pretty–even though your body has not essentially changed. Ask God to help you see your body from His perspective and to accept yourself as His special creation.

It is important to take your focus off your external body and begin to explore your internal self–emotionally, spiritually and as a growing human being. Remember that attractiveness comes from within. Feeling positive about yourself will affect how others view you.

Spend time reading the Bible. Ask God to help you begin to comprehend just how much He loves you and how special you are to Him. Remember that He knew you even when your body was being formed within your mother’s womb. He has a special plan for your life and it is a good plan. Thank Him for loving you. Thank Him for making you just the way you are. And open your heart to his unconditional love.

You are the one who put me together inside my mother’s body, and I praise you because of the wonderful way you created me. Everything you do is marvelous! Of this I have no doubt. Psalm 139:13-14  (CEV)

Seeing Through God’s Eyes

Preoccupation with our body image is counter to God’s will for our lives. If you find yourself in this struggle, I urge you to ask God for help. Ask Him to help you see yourself as He does–as His treasure. His precious child. He loves you unconditionally. He love you so much that He gave His Son Jesus to provide a way for you to be forgiven and live with Him in heaven forever.

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price.  So you must honor God with your body.  1 Corinthians 6:19-20

God loves you just the way you are. No matter what you have or haven’t done, no matter how you look. He wants you to know how special you are to Him. He has a good plan for your life.

Take time right now to talk to Him. Tell Him how you feel. Ask Him to help you. Accept His forgiveness for all past sin and commit to follow Him, to do things His way. He won’t turn you away. Actually, He’s waiting for you with open arms.

Your problems probably won’t instantly disappear. But Jesus will be holding your hand and guiding you to health and healing, to right choices, and to becoming all He has designed you to be.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.  Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God!  Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life!  Proverbs 3:5-8  (MSG)

EATING DISORDERS: ACTION STEPS


Identify a Target Weight

  • It is important to identify an ideal weight and target weight. Ideal weight refers to the best weight for the person when the person’s height and body type are taken into account. The body mass index (oft en abbreviated as BMI) is the most accurate measure of ideal weight, but few persons can easily work with this index.
  • A target weight is the lowest safe weight; it is the bare minimum you want someone with an eating disorder to be at. Target weight is calculated as 90 percent of midpoint of the ideal weight. It is best to have agreement on a target weight with a doctor or dietician because persons with eating disorders oft en try to negotiate this number.

Focus on Relationships

  • You will want to build a positive relationship with the person. Those with eating disorders tend to have a very hard time being open and accepting help. You will need much patience and you will need to be willing to speak the truth. Let the young woman know that she must be willing to hear the truth.
  • Encourage family members to show unconditional love to the eating disordered person. Do not criticize or compare or ask questions in a manner that causes the person to feel condemned.
  • Healing relationships with people and with God are essential to the recovery process.

Take the Focus Off of Food

  • Unless the girl is in immediate danger from starvation or electrolyte problems, examine what weight loss means to this person, what eating stands for, and what she most fears about eating.
  • Help the family to take the focus off food at home. They need to see that focusing on food is part of the disease, not the solution.

Watch for Triggers

  • Help her to see what triggers her bingeing behaviors and try to identify situations that aggravate it.
  • Help her to see what is behind her actions. Chances are, some kind of anxiety and stress is driving these actions.

Change Thinking Patterns

  • Gently question the girl’s thinking. Help her begin to see the lies behind the behaviors that are trapping her.

Examine Perfectionism

  • Examine her perfectionism. Chances are she holds herself to standards to which she does not hold her loved ones.
  • Help her to examine these standards and how they square with God’s truth revealed in Scripture.

Keep a Journal

  • Encourage the person to write in a journal about her feelings and the events of each day. She may have difficulty identifying feelings. Help her to view her feelings as normal and acceptable.

Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!” Numbers 11:4-6

Preoccupation with food can indicate an eating disorder. When people become overly focused on food, their dependence on God suffers.

The Israelites, while not having an eating disorder, did experience a “perspective disorder” because of their focus on food. Their preoccupation with foods they did not have caused them to lose sight of God’s miraculous and loving provision of manna.

When people become preoccupied with anything other than God, they can lose their perspective of God’s care for them. People with eating disorders need to refocus on their worth in God’s eyes and be thankful for God’s provision.

Put a knife to your throat if you are a man given to appetite.Proverbs 23:2

Some people attempt to fill the emptiness in their lives with drugs, alcohol, sex, money, or even hard work. Others use food, and such people find themselves trapped in emotional eating—leading to such problems as obesity and bulimia.

There is nothing wrong with food. There must be a balance, however, between enjoying what God has provided, and using food to meet emotional needs and thus allowing it to control one’s life.

The fruit of the Spirit called self-control applies to many areas of life, including eating. God desires to fill any emptiness, helping us to lead balanced, healthy lives.

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 1 Corinthians 6:12-13

Some who face a difficult eating disorder—whether it be an addiction to food, or an addiction to going without food—understand the power of that addiction. God provided food for the animals and people He created in order to sustain them. Food is meant for sustenance—”foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods.”

A food addiction takes the focus off God and puts it on one’s food or stomach— both of which will eventually no longer be needed.

People who struggle with eating disorders should seek Christian professional guidance to gain a proper perspective and pattern for eating.


WHAT’S YOUR BODY IMAGE?

Source:  Adapted from Lighthouse Network

Transformational Thought

We need God. We won’t enjoy life, be fulfilled in life, or attain our God-given potential without closeness to Him. God desires it as well. Unfortunately, so many factors and forces keep us from this closeness to God. Eating disorders are one of those forces. 30-35% of our society struggle with significant eating issues that disrupt their lives.

“Eating Disorder” basically means unhealthy habits of restricting nutritional intake, overeating (yes, this is a large part of our American society), or being obsessed with or spending too much time focusing on or actually worshipping elements, rituals, or the results of eating.  It really becomes an addiction. People tend to get so preoccupied with body image, and what others think, that they develop a distorted view of themselves. Their concerns, or lack of concerns, about food, diet, body, and weight even begin to affect their health, relationships, and their ability to function in day-to-day life.

Like almost everything in life, God gave us food to use in moderation. Too much isn’t good, but not enough isn’t good either. Our body is a temple for the Holy Spirit to reside in and God wants us to be good stewards of our body and health. But more importantly, we need to look at the psychological and spiritual aspects of our eating habits.  If you are in this situation, determine not to let your focus on your body or food keep you from closeness with God and with others.  Decide how you wish to spend your energy: pursuing the “perfect” image, or focusing on your spiritual growth and your personal and interpersonal needs.

The outside, what man sees, or the inside, what God sees.  Society changes its view of what is beautiful…styles come and go.  But God’s view of beauty never changes. Identifying and challenging your distorted thoughts and feelings about your body and food, and keeping God’s view in mind are essential to accepting yourself and your body. We all have feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. Don’t let food or your body image be your soothing mechanism. Let God and His grace and love bring you the peace you really are hungry for and crave. He is one buffet where you may eat all you can without consequences!

Today, as you approach food and eat meals, examine the importance you put on these elements. What do you get out of it?  Are food and your eating habits a coping mechanism for you?  Are you getting healthier, or are you harming your health?  Remember, your value as a person is not based on how you look or what you do.  Your value is based on the unchangeable fact that God loves you so much that He gave His son, Jesus, to die on the cross for you.  Eating issues are about believing lies.  Seek the truth.  Your decision, choose well.

Prayer

Dear Father God, I’ve been pretty confused lately.  I’ve been so concerned about food or used it to comfort me that I’ve ignored You…and relationships with others I care about have suffered.  Please help me begin thinking more clearly…to see things from Your point of view.  Thank You for loving me just the way I am.  I pray this in the name of the One who loves me as I am, Jesus Christ – AMEN!

The Truth

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:1-2

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him.  For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7

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