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)