God showed James his value and purpose came from Him, not his outward appearance.

Is your body image an idol? James shares about his journey from obsession over body image to confidence in Christ.

God showed James his value and purpose came from Him, not his outward appearance.

Is your body image an idol? James shares about his journey from obsession over body image to confidence in Christ.

Ever look in the mirror and hate what you see? I have.

In our culture, if you look like you got it together, you must actually have it together. Everywhere you turn, there’s an advertisement for way to get a “good body.” Social media is filled with opportunities to compare your body with unrealistic standards. I wanted to look like the guy on the cover of the men’s fitness magazines. 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” at 180 pounds to a 215-220-pound man. Not only did I see the change in my body, but others noticed too it too. My new body drew attention from women, men, friends, coworkers, and family. So, every day I focused on trying to look better. I was careful about the clothes I wore and the supplements I took to help me look leaner, better, bigger, and stronger. I was also 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.

However, when I looked at myself, I was never truly satisfied with my body, myself, or my life. This unhappiness drove me to constantly try to look better so that I could find confidence in my appearance. Regardless of how I looked, that 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 on the 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 and selfish gain. 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 and 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. Instead, 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. 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 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.

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