It’s a lazy Saturday morning and I’m starting the day off right with a hot cup of coffee, enjoying nature from my back deck and perusing my favorite site for “what’s happening in everyone’s world” a/k/a Facebook.
The first post appears-- a “Your Memories on Facebook” reflecting a post from several years ago and my mind immediately goes to the negative--
“Wow, did I really look like that?”
“Oh, to be that size again!”
“Look no wrinkles!”
Then to rub salt into the open wound, I stumble upon another posting that reads:
So, my take-away--
I’m out of shape and old (since clearly over 40 puts me in the “older” category now.)
I instantly go into self-loathing mode. I feel bad because I weigh more now than I did then and I have way more wrinkles on my face than before.
How dare this happen! I’m turning into the Crypt Keeper!
Can anyone else relate?
Have you (like me) ever wished for a time machine? A time machine that you could use only to go back to a moment in time that you believed you looked and felt your best. A time machine that you could use to reverse the weight gain, the wrinkles, the stretch marks, and the age spots---the list goes on and on.
I believe many of us suffer from the ill effects from living in a society that applauds the young, the skinny, and the flawless- the perfect. The unrealistic models, the comparisons, the tips, the statistics all tell us we don’t measure up! We listen to the lies of the media, the advertisers, the drug companies and the weight-loss industry. Yet we continually gloss over the fact that there is MEGA-MONEY in pimping the global belief that you don’t measure up, you could look better, feel better, be better!!
Guess what? If I’m honest and go (in my pretend time-machine) all the way back to when I was 19 years old- (super thin, youthful, in shape, without a wrinkle, age spot, or stretch mark in sight) I have to admit even then I wasn’t satisfied. There were things I didn’t like that I wish were different. Even when I was at my “best” I still wasn’t content.
Why is it so difficult for us to simply be content? To accept ourselves, just as we are, right where we are and be happy and grateful for all that God has given us?
Are we trapped in a never-ending state of dissatisfaction that even a time machine can’t remedy?
Harriet Brown, a professor at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University spent almost a decade investigating our nation’s obsession with body image. In her book, Body of Truth: How Science, History and Culture Drive our Obsession with Weight- and What We Can Do About It she concludes that “there is convincing evidence that staying at a higher, stable weight and appreciating your body is good for your health.”
Brown makes some really great points, to name a few:
1) To be blunt- whether you diet or not you are going to die someday,
2) Appreciating your body is good for your health and
3) Older women can lead the way! Confidence that comes with age combined with critical thinking allow older woman to be less affected by cultural expectations. They derive more self-esteem from within, freeing them from cultural ideals of what is healthy and attractive. Older women can be the role models for our next generation!
The Bible speaks to these very same ideals on body image:
“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” - 1 Peter 3:3-4
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” - Psalm 139:14
How absolutely freeing would it be if we could just be satisfied with ourselves, to embrace what God has made uniquely in each of us and stop buying into the lies promoted by this culture?
Let’s face it- what a blah world this would be if we were all designed to be 5’ 10” and a size 6!
Now don’t get me wrong, we should all strive to be healthy, balanced and live in moderation. But it is our focus or motivation that seems to be out of whack that leads us down a twisted perception of our self-image and worth.
So, let’s consciously stop focusing on what this world highlights as differences, faults, imperfections, and negatives and start seeing ourselves as an unique work of art- a masterpiece that is PERFECT in God’s eyes- just as He designed!
We are divine creations made in the very image of God and even the aging process speaks to our blessings! It reveals a visible map shouting a story and testament of our lives. A map that reveals stretch marks that speak to new life that was given in birth, scars that show past hurts and healings, age spots that show a life well lived in mobility for work and play, wrinkles that reveal a life full of emotions and gray hair that speaks to the gift of a long life. Proverbs 16:31 reminds us that “a gray head is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life.”
May we start embracing the positives that are within ourselves and start celebrating that our very appearance is actually a testament to the life that has been so graciously given to us by a loving creative God!
We are masterpieces and if we are given a long life our gray head is a crown of glory and should be relished and praised!
You know, I remember my sweet grandmother would remark from time to time about her weight, her “turkey neck” or all her wrinkles. What’s ironic, in her eyes she was old and out of shape but in my eyes she was beautiful and radiant. May I age as well as her, reflecting a beautiful radiance from within that I can not only appreciate and embrace but set an example to the younger generation!
So my conclusion is that we don’t really need a time machine. What we need is to simply love ourselves just as God made us -- weight, warts, wrinkles and all!
May I do well to remember this always; especially when the next "Your Memories on Facebook" pops up!
I am praying that each of us will break free from whatever chains of discontent we carry and that we will have the confidence to embrace the beauty of what God has given us in His unique design. That we would have the wisdom to focus not on the external but rather the internal- where true “eternal beauty” resides.
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” – Proverbs 31:30-31