“You’re not thin, but you’re definitely not fat.” They were eight simple words out of the mouth of my high school crush. In the context of the conversation, he wasn’t being a jerk. He was complaining about his weight and I asked him what he thought of me. In retrospect – for a young high school guy – he actually navigated his response quite well.
Yet in my freshman girl’s heart, his words translated to “You’re not good enough” and I instantly concluded “If I lose weight, he might love me.”
It was an insidious belief. A number on a scale became the deciding factor of whether I was beautiful. It was a lie – a lie that suffocated and wrapped tightly around my heart.
My story is not unique. Almost every girl has her own story. It may have been a comment, a look or perhaps even our own harsh assessment of ourselves in front of a mirror. Yet it was a defining moment – a moment deeply engrained in our hearts given root by thousands of other self-critical thoughts.
It’s a deep and highly personal struggle summarized in two plain words – “body image.” It’s a conversation that’s been happening for years and the loud and resounding message has been “you are beautiful.” Yet despite this and the endless repetitions of Psalm 139 – something isn’t connecting. Over and over we find that what we know and what we believe are not the same.
So how do we live loved when our thoughts cry, “not good enough!”? How do we respond to the world’s obsession with diets, scales, and a three digit number?
3 Ways to Count When the Scale Screams Defeat
- Count health over a number.
We all know “extreme dieting” can have serious consequences. Girls who struggle with eating disorders are at risk for heart damage, osteoporosis, muscle loss, kidney failure, and even death.
Yet dieting even in a “normal” way still often takes a toll on a girl’s soul. The day’s success is often determined by what was on the menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Discouragement rears its head as the scale’s numbers stall or are higher than hoped. Questions arise of whether the effort is really worth it. Then shame creeps around the corner and whispers, “See! You’re not strong enough.”
There is power in taking our eyes off a number. In dieting, we often live from a place of lack instead of abundance. Yet instead of creating rules of “I can’t” we can begin establishing life habits that focus on “I can…” I can enjoy the carbonated aspartame goodness of my Diet Coke in moderation. I can have an abundance of energy by protecting my eight hours of sleep and my trips to the gym. I can feel proud of my lifestyle decisions while still enjoying a girl’s night out.
I can choose more by counting my health – not a number.
- Count community over isolation.
Often at the core – weight isn’t the real issue. As a freshman in high school I made significant life changes to drive down the number on the scale. What I was ultimately desiring was not to be a smaller pant size. I thought I would be loved if I lost weight.
Oh, how the Enemy plays on girls’ hearts with this. Yet it is an empty promise that a smaller pant size will smooth away life’s wrinkles. Dropping a couple – or many – pounds doesn’t heal a heart. A simple number doesn’t cause past wounds to immediately dissolve. The desire to be loved isn’t satisfied. The desire to control isn’t fulfilled. Weight is a number, not a solution.
Yet trying to control our weight can feel so much safer than bringing our hearts to the table.
I don’t know why we do this, but as girls we often assume people don’t want to be friends with us. We smile, share the good stuff and go on our way. Yet we crave vulnerability. We long to be known, but our fear of rejection leaves us in isolation.
In 2017, we can count community and choose to be brave. We can ask that “cool” girl to coffee. We can call the friend we resent for never reaching out. In an unexpected way, healing can come through community and we can defy the Enemy’s lies by reaching across the table.
- Count character over appearance.
Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).
So my clothes will go out of fashion and end up in a landfill. Wrinkles will come shortly followed by the gray hair. Beauty is fleeting.
I can spend my whole paycheck trying to keep up and resist the effects of age or I can ask myself if I believe Proverbs 31:30. Do I believe that above all else a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised? Am I remembering that I am only passing through (Hebrews 13:14) or I am chasing the same things as the rest of the world?
Further, am I cherishing and developing my relationship with the Lord? Do I resist the busyness of life to go to the One who can calm my soul? Do I paint on makeup to cover pain inside or do I look to the Holy Spirit power to bind up the wound (Ps 147:3)?
Am I counting appearance and neglecting my character? Am I making the right decisions when no one is watching? Am I reflecting on “what is it like to do life with me?” then asking the Holy Spirit to grow me through His power?
Dear friend, there are a million things more important to count than our weight this year. Many celebrations are ahead. New seasons that are right around the corner and beauty that will rise from ashes.
So when the scale – or even life – seems to scream defeat – I hope you join me in the defiant reply that victory is promised (Rev. 21:4-5). Then while living in the in-between, we can choose to fight for our health, reach for community, and celebrate character.
And when that final day comes, we will stand confident that we counted that which lasts.
Katie’s 2017 Life Hack – eMeals
If you’re trying to eat healthy in 2017, a simple app called eMeals might be helpful! eMeals handles all my meal planning and has saved me time, money and a lot of headache. With the app I can pull into the grocery store parking lot, select on my phone the recipes I want for the week and immediately shop using the interactive shopping list created on the app. Truthfully, I would rate the meal recipes as average, but for me the convenience is worth it. If you’re interested in a two week free trial, click here!
Note: This is a referral link.