recovery in Christ when life is broken

Showing items filed under “Idolatry”

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.

Why can’t I stop drinking? Is alcohol really my problem?

Drinking. That was my problem. Every time I took a drink (and really, this time I was going to have just one), disaster occurred.

 

For starters, one drink turned into multiples. I “drunk dialed” people I knew. I “drunk dialed” people I didn’t know (think prominent Christian speaker Beth Moore, for one). I wrecked seven cars, ended up in treatment five times and jail twice. Everyone agreed. Drinking was my problem.

 

In spite of my countless efforts to “just stop it,” as plenty of friends and family recommended, I couldn’t “stay stopped.”  And over time, I came to see the truth: drinking wasn’t really the problem. Oh, it looked like the problem. Outer manifestations of inner issues usually look like the problem. In fact, others around us are often so concerned with our actions that they say things like, “Shape up. Stop lying. Start smiling.” In other words, try harder.

 

Occasionally that worked for periods of time, but after repeated relapses, it became painfully clear that behavior modification merely deals with the visible symptom. At times a healthy chemical detox is necessary for those with chemical dependencies, but that is not where recovery stops. We’ve all got a spiritual hole, a soul sickness that compels us to seek temporary relief until we come face to face with the root cause. Until we know what that really is, we cannot fully repent and turn to go the other way. As long as I thought drinking was the problem, I could white knuckle it and turn from that. But the next layer – whether fear, insecurity or approval of man – would draw me right back to the familiar coping mechanism. I learned through pain (and equal amounts of humiliation) that treating the symptom only brings temporary relief.  

 

What do you perceive as your greatest struggle right now? Are you willing to consider that what you think is your nemesis is but a symptom—that your real struggle may be a worship problem? Christ has the power to transform – not just remove the symptoms but to change you from the inside out.

 

While I haven’t had a drink in many years, those core issues are ones that I bring to the Savior daily. If I don’t come before Him with my fear, pride, and dishonesty, those old “band-aids” of coping could entice me once again.   

 

Recovery is so very daily. And yet, as I surrender my regrets of the past and fears of the future, my heart changes. Exhaustion and failure are replaced by peace. And actions change too.

 

We get it backwards, attempting to change actions and hoping our heart will catch up. God changes us from the inside out.

 

When hearts change, actions follow.

-Joy K.

 

Key Scripture: Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

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recovery in Christ when life is broken.