Meet my nemesis, the scale. My scale and I go back many years and a couple of sizes. I greet it just about every morning, though seldom with a smile or a kind word. Like most women, I am unhappy with my weight. I hate looking at pictures or video of myself because I mourn the loss of Thin.
That said, I will concede that I’m not heavy. In fact, some people—and I won’t say whether I question their sanity—say I’m still thin, like the fellow dog-walker who stopped to ask me the other day how I maintain my shape and even went so far as to suggest I need therapy if I think I’m fat. She’s my new best friend. I’m sorry to those of you who thought you still held that role.
A have a handful of dresses I still can wear from my Size 3 days, which continued for a few years after my last child was born. But the reality is things aren’t quite where I left them all those years ago, as worn belt notches will testify.
Sadly, I often allow my morphing body to define my self-image. And what’s ironic is that I refused to allow the reverse to be true when I was thin. In fact, it infuriated me when my mother would focus exclusively on my physical attributes.
“Isn’t she a knockout?” my mother would say to any random person, such as the young male grocery bagger or gas station attendant. I would clench my teeth and want to shout, “But I’m more than my appearance!” How did that vision get lost over time?
Our culture puts a huge emphasis on a woman remaining attractive. To their credit, men are largely exempt from that expectation. A man walks by a mirror and thinks, “I look good!” He doesn’t see the midsection cascading over his belt, the Texas-sized bald spot on his head and the double chin that has overtaken his neck. But a woman will see every single flaw and a few that aren’t there besides.
How can we separate ourselves from our body image? We’ve already talked about self-love, and this definitely fits under that category. But you can’t love yourself unless you see yourself through the eyes of perfect love, that is, through the eyes of God.
Remember the story of Samuel, who was told by God to go to the home of Jesse to anoint a new king for Israel? Samuel saw Jesse’s tall, handsome sons and thought, “Yeah, this has to be the one.”
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
Keep looking, God ordered Samuel. So finally Jesse brought out the youngest, a ruddy shepherd named David. And David, it turns out, would be the only man God ever said was a man after His own heart.
Now, keep in mind we don’t have a free pass to neglect our appearance. (We’ll talk about that another time.) But our primary concern must be on what is at the very heart of who we are. Are we allowing ourselves to be lost in Jesus, allowing our lives in Him to define us? (He must become more; we must become less.) Or are we stubbornly holding on to our flesh as the source of our identity?
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.—1 Peter 3:3-4
Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next.—1 Timothy 4:8
Our temples are fading, friends. Every scale and mirror remind us of that. But I have good news: God will redeem even this lumpy flesh someday. And I seriously doubt a scale will be found either in heaven or on the new earth.