We spend a lot of time here at Dashing Dish talking about how to look past your self-perceived flaws. Our desire is to help you enjoy seeing yourself from a more Godly and loving perspective. We talk about how to change your thoughts and renew your mind when you simply don’t like what you see in the mirror. But, what about when you DO like what you see?! We don’t talk much about the flip-side and yet it can almost be more of a challenge to keep holy and right perspective when your body begins to look the way you’ve desired. Today, I’m going to spend some time talking about how to enjoy the positive physical changes of losing weight, leaning down and getting stronger without stumbling into distraction and idolatry.
Years ago when I really began to work on a lifelong commitment to my health and caring well for my body, I was intimately familiar with the negative messages and thoughts I’d repeated in poetic fashion to myself all the time, for years. What I was not prepared for was the challenge that accompanied my weight loss and aesthetic body changes. As my weight dropped and my muscle tone increased, so did the compliments. Suddenly I was enjoying almost constant positive reinforcement. I was enjoying a new found sense of admiration and approval from people simply based on my appearance.
You know what? It felt great! You know what else? It became an idol for me. I became obsessed with how I looked. I’d completely succumb to the pressure of meeting other people’s expectations. My “why” and my motivation for weight loss began to focus on one thing - getting praise and attention from others. When I’d see someone and they didn’t compliment me, I worried that I must have gained weight back. It completely spun out of control and what was intended as the blessing of living in my best body actually began to separate me from the Lord. I was totally caught up in seeking the approval of man and not of God. Simply put, I was not spiritually and emotionally equipped and prepared ahead of time to be able to enjoy my healthier, leaner body in a way that glorified God and directed every bit of credit and motivation back to Him. My hope for you is that my journey will help you avoid unnecessary pitfalls and prepare you to enjoy both your very best body while also keeping your mind and motivations align with the Lord’s.
Turn Compliments into Praise
The very first of the Ten Commandments is “I am the Lord your God, you shall not have false gods (you shall have idols) before me.” The Word of God has a LOT to say about idols. It’s a pretty big deal. We may think of idols only from the perspective of blatant blasphemy as we conjure up images of golden calves and massive statues. The truth is though that stumbling into idolatry happens when we are devoting extreme admiration, love, or reverence for something or someone that belongs to God alone. It’s anything that takes up so much mind space or obsessive thought that it comes between us and God. It can sneak up on you trust me! There is a delicate balance to enjoying compliments and allowing them to encourage and bless us, and allowing them to become something we need in order to feel good about ourselves. As you begin to enjoy your best body, simply turn compliments and kind words around as a direct offering to the Lord. Every compliment is an opportunity to give God praise for His faithfulness, for His workmanship, for His strength, wisdom and guidance.
When the Lord began to reshape and refine this area of my life in order to prepare me to handle the gift of a strong body, I wrote out this simple response to use when people would remark on my appearance:
“Thank you. The Lord is giving me a lot of freedom in that area.”
I still respond very similarly and it’s sincere. The words of the mouth come from the heart. I try to make sure those words are pure and give glory where glory is due – to the Lord alone!
Workouts as Worship
“Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value].” Colossians 3:2 Amplified Bible
I talk a lot about listening to worship music during workouts. I strongly encourage people to make the decision to only listen to worship music while they exercise. There are several reasons why, but this is one of the primary reasons. When your mind is focused on things of heaven you will be far less likely to fall into the trap of focusing on temporary things like physical appearance. When you are singing praises and worshipping God during your workout it automatically shifts your focus. You are able to dedicate that time of blessing your body with movement as a gift to the heart of God. If you find that you are distracted by thoughts about your body or what others think of you during your workout, I can’t encourage you enough to try this. Workouts as worship change everything!
Turn a Blind Eye!
“The eye is the lamp of the body; so if your eye is clear [spiritually perceptive], your whole body will be full of light [benefiting from God’s precepts]. But if your eye is bad [spiritually blind], your whole body will be full of darkness [devoid of God’s precepts]. So if the [very] light inside you [your inner self, your heart, your conscience] is darkness, how great and terrible is that darkness!” Matthew 6:22-23 Amplified Bible
Time and time again in scripture we read stories of sin originating from the act of looking. I’ve heard it said that, “Sin begins in the eyes.” I like that.
When I began to feel more comfortable with how my body looked I noticed that I was suddenly a big fan of mirrors! The reflection that once said such mean things was suddenly looking pretty darn good and I enjoyed the reminder. The Lord quickly spoke to my heart on that one. I heard loud and clear that it would help keep my heart and mind pure if I purposefully avoided looking at myself. If I was constantly looking at myself it made it infinitely harder to be looking at God. When I would see my reflection I’d simply go back to tip number one and instantly begin to give God praise and glory for my strong, healthy body.
Free to Make a Difference
Friends, I wholeheartedly believe that the Lord desires for us to feel great about our bodies. I do - I absolutely do. There is no shame in enjoying your body and enjoying compliments. We should not feel bad for wanting to feel good. I believe that the Father heart of God desires that His daughter’s feel beautiful and captivating. I believe it’s woven into us as women by HIS design. There is a distinct difference though between freely enjoying your health and using your very best body to be effective for the Kingdom and being obsessed with the body for appearances sake alone. I believe that the Lord desires that we all enjoy our healthiest body to help free our mind to be more effective and have more impact. When we are suddenly able to invest all the energy and thought we’ve expended on temporary things, we become mightily effective for God’s purposes. When we learn to use our freedom and strength to build others up we become spiritual powerhouses. When we recognize our glory before our glutes, we shine and enjoy the everlasting joy of giving God praise for the gift of His workmanship.
Today, may you enjoy the beautiful, strong, healthy body the Lord gave you and use it to make a difference that will last for eternity! Today, let’s be women worthy to be praised as we set out to do the work of the Lord!
“Charm and grace are deceptive, and [superficial] beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord [reverently worshiping, obeying, serving, and trusting Him with awe-filled respect], she shall be praised.” Proverbs 31:30 Amplified Bible