recovery in Christ when life is broken

I Hate My Body

Have you ever looked in the mirror and hate what you see? I have.

Our culture, if you look like you got it together, you must have it together. Everywhere you turn, there’s an advertisement for a “good body”. I wanted to look like the guy on the cover of the men’s fitness magazine, but that is not what I saw in the mirror.

My obsession with my appearance started when I was in the military. I transformed from an “average Joe” of 180 pounds to a 215-220-pound man. Not only did I see the change in my body, but others noticed too. My new body drew attention, attention from women, men, friends, coworkers, family. So every day I focused on trying to look better. I was careful about the clothes I chose and the supplements I took to help me look leaner, better, bigger, and stronger. I was careful with food intake. If I ate a cupcake, would tell myself, “I have to work out tomorrow or I’m going to gain weight”. I constantly examined my stomach, my waist, my chest, etc. My appearance defined my purpose. My body image became my idol.

When I looked at myself, I was never satisfied with my body, myself, or my life. This unhappiness drove me to constantly try to look better so that I could somehow find happiness and confidence in my appearance. Regardless of how I looked, happiness never came. For ten years, I was trapped in this dangerous, harmful cycle, spending thousands of hours in the gym and thousands of dollars on supplements to try to make me feel different. The lie that my looks would make me loved, successful, joyful, happy, and confident, only led to pain, destruction, and disappointment. I looked like I had it together on the outside, but I was broken inside. 

At the time, I didn’t understand I was made in the image of someone else - my Creator. I didn’t know that He made me for a far greater purpose than looking good. God made me to reflect His image, not to exalt my own. My body image could never make me significant.

In 2012, I learned that I was significant enough to God that He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sins. When I accepted Christ’s sacrifice for my sin, God began to change me from the inside out. He showed me that I had been using my body for my own benefit, selfish gain, and personal significance. My body had been my god. My body was my biggest priority because I wanted people to worship and desire me. I didn’t understand my intrinsic value to God, which is my true worth. To God, I was worth the life of His Son. He paid the highest price possible to ransom me from sin.

Culture tells us that if we aren’t beautiful according to its definition of beauty, then we are not valuable. God showed me I am valuable because I am His child, created uniquely by Him for a purpose. Isaiah 43:7, God says, “Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” God showed me, and continues to remind me, that my body and my life is not for me, but for Him.

Today my identity and satisfaction rest in knowing that I am God’s child, bought with a price for a purpose. I am significant in the eyes of the all-powerful God of the universe. I am precious to the One whose opinion matters most. My physical attributes do not define who I am, or who I am going to be. God determines my value and purpose. My life and body belong to Him.

“For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8)

By God’s grace alone, I have turned away from my idol of body-image to find satisfaction in my relationship with Christ. He alone is the One who holds my soul and fills my heart. He alone is the One who is able to hold your soul and fill your heart, too.

“And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17)

-James R.

 

For more information, check out Body Image and Eating Disorders in the Struggles section of our website.

Four Threads of True Repentance

On January 19, 2015, I found myself sitting on an airplane finally ready to confess my sin. For 7 years, I had been stuck in the world of gambling. Worse still yet, I had been stealing money from my company in order to help fund my destructive behavior. Seemingly, the longer I hid my sin, the more I felt like I was dying on the inside.

It was on that plane ride home I knew it was time to repent. I had been a believer in Christ for a long time, but I had clearly lost my way. By God’s grace, I began the path of repentance that day. And I have been walking that way ever since. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been beautiful and freeing.

I call repentance a ‘path’ because it’s not just a single act in a moment of time, but rather it is a new way to live the rest of your life. There can be a lot involved with repentance. It looks different for each person, struggle, and situation. But I do believe there is a common thread of behavior found in truly repentant souls.

 

Thread #1: Confession of Sin to Another Human Being

I once thought confession was punishment, something meant to embarrass me in front of other people. But after struggling against my sin for almost a decade, unable to defeat it on my own in silent isolation, I learned confession was not punishment. 

Confession is a gift. Confession is the only way out from the confinement of our sin.

If we are followers of Christ, we are already forgiven for our sin. But sin can still control us, which is why we must confess it to another human being. We confess to one another not to embarrass ourselves, but so that we may be healed (James 5:16). It’s the first step to get help. It’s the first step of repentance.

 

Thread #2: Follow Christ Fully

The goal of repentance is to not just stop sinning. Don’t get me wrong. We are to rid ourselves of sin and flee lusts (Romans 8:13, 2 Timothy 2:22).  

But the real goal of repentance is to begin following Christ fully. We do this by reading his words in the Bible. We find a church and get connected to other believers. We look for ways to serve others.

Following Christ fully leads us to a life filled with faith, love, righteousness, and gentleness (1 Timothy 6:11). That’s a full life. And even when we mess up (which we still will), we go back and confess quickly.

 

Thread #3: Seek Forgiveness and Make Amends

I have a friend that is an aspiring theologian. We once lamented there was no such doctrine in Christianity as “unsin.” But alas, you simply can’t take back something you’ve done wrong. You can’t undo the pain caused. Just as physical wounds must be well treated or else they don’t heal correctly over time, so too for pain caused by our sin. We must faithfully deal with (or treat) the wounds our sin has caused.

We do this by seeking forgiveness and making amends for our sin.

So how did I faithfully deal with my sin? I looked people in the eyes whom I harmed and asked for forgiveness. I paid back the money I stole. To this day, I try to honor their grace toward me and Christ’s grace to me by living in a manner worthy of how I have been loved and forgiven.

You see time does not heal all wounds. But, time plus obedience and faithfulness can heal wounds.

 

Thread #4: Boldly Testifying to Christ’s Grace

Ultimately, those who have experienced the grace of Christ in all its fullness cannot help but tell others. They must share. They cannot help but scream Christ’s love from the rooftops.

Repentant souls go and strengthen their brothers and sisters (Luke 22:32). They teach other sinners about the grace of God (Psalm 51:13). They use every opportunity to remind others of their weakness because it points to the strength of their Savior (2 Corinthians 12:9).

 

Conclusion

If you are a follower of Christ, be comforted in knowing that this path of repentance has been walked by countless others. It’s not always easy, but it is beautiful and freeing.

If you’re not a follower of Christ, I encourage you today to take the ultimate step of faith (and repentance) by trusting Him and His provision for your sin on the cross. Only He can redeem and reconcile your past. Only He can resurrect that which sin has killed in your life. True repentance cannot be found apart from Christ.

I hope to see you on the path with me. I’m for sure not done walking it. I’m just 669 days into my journey of repentance.

So let’s press on together.

-Jeff P. 

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recovery in Christ when life is broken.