Learn to Love the Skin You’re In … by Amelia

Another thought-provoking article by a wonderful writer, Amelia, at The Bottom Line:

We can’t change our skin like snakes do; so, learning to be comfortable in our own skin is vital. We have to love ourselves, or else others will find it hard to do it for us. The message about “loving our bodies” is worn out. Yet, people aren’t convinced. Maybe it’s because the message about “skinny being the only sexy,” is louder.

Numerous people struggle to love their bodies—a large percentage of them are teenagers. An article on Huffington Post states, “About 40 percent of 10 and 11-year-old girls in the U.K. want to lose weight. That number rises to 54 percent in 12 and 13-year-old girls and to a stunning 63 percent among 14 and 15-year-olds.” While boys are less concerned about body image, they’re not all exempt.

Finish this post here … 

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Value Added

I’ve been hearing lately, incessantly actually, on the radio about the Golden Eagle Coin. Doubtless you’ve heard it too.

The ad argues, in an attempt to persuade casual listeners that their life is incomplete without this coin, that gold has intrinsic value. But paper money is valuable only because we arbitrarily assign worth to it.

The green, flimsy sheets in your wallet are nothing in and of themselves. We see proof of this all the time as the stock market fluctuates and the relative worth of American currency to that of other countries, varies constantly.

What if we woke up tomorrow and the powers that be decided that paper money is no longer “in”? What if we simply bypassed the frightening run on the bank, and tomorrow’s sunrise illuminated the collapse of our entire economy?

But I wonder, isn’t gold the same way? Isn’t everything the same way? If it were not for the value that we as individuals or society place on any given thing, what good are they?

Why does sex sell? Because in today’s cultural climate, easy sexual gratification is highly valued. However, only a few decades ago, the same risqué images that ply our greedy minds and draw us to dirty movies, provocative magazines and trashy TV shows would have repulsed the average consumer. While today the clip of a woman gasping in the shower sells a bottle of shampoo, our grandmothers would have boycotted the company. Value assigned.

Why is there a steady climb in the number of eating disorders among most demographics? Why are young children getting plastic surgery? Why do 90% of the headlines on consumer magazines promise to unveil long-held secrets of beauty?

It is because we have arbitrarily assigned a high value to beauty (a subjective term in itself) and specifically to thinness. Take those same messages to a rural African culture and their power is forfeit. It isn’t that Victoria’s Secret is the objective definition of beauty, but for the time, for this culture, she is the image of what we hold in high esteem: The model of feminine beauty.

So my question is this: Is it really fail-safe to invest in gold? Is there assurance of happiness in the pursuit of sexual appeal or a beautiful body?

Resoundingly, No. Value is assumed and people are finicky things.

The only indisputable value, the only unmitigated quantity, the only absolute insurance is Jesus Christ. For He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Heb. 13:8

Different is Good (not just at Arby’s)

I mentioned that I made a second discovery the first time I read the preface to C.S. Lewis’ book, The Great Divorce. Don’t worry, this observation is much shorter than the last one.

Most of you know that I have an eating disordered background. I don’t know if that’s the proper way to say it, but I think it makes sense. I dealt with anorexia for, at this point, more than half of my life.

One factor that frequently contributes to body dysmorphia,* is the idea that there is a perfect physical standard. All forms of media pummel our brains with visual and audial messages about an ideal body shape. Women, particularly are susceptible to these bogus rants.

Perhaps C.S. Lewis wasn’t thinking of the size of his thighs when he wrote the book, but I certainly see a reasonable application for a few of his comments.

“Even on the biological level life is not like a river but like a tree. It does not move towards unity but away from it and the creatures grow further apart as they increase in perfection. Good, as it ripens, becomes continually more different not only from evil but from other good.”

Imagine if we applied that to our bodies!
What if it’s true?
What if, the more distinct we are the better?
What if the most radical aspects of our beauty are those which define us from everyone else?
What if the most outstanding characteristics of our physical beings are those which no one else has?
What if our most celebrated potential is that our individuality can inspire, challenge and enhance the differences of others?

jayThink of it…why do we admire a blue jay? Is it not for the crisp azure of his feathers, starkly rimmed in black and white? Like God forgot to remove the tape after painting the edges of his feathers.

I appreciate a quail’s cry simply because I recognize it and he sounds like a familiar friend. I don’t wish the cardinal was the color of the sea, and I don’t wish the quail said, “Sue Smith,” instead of, “Bob White.” Their perfection is in their distinction.

I don’t love my dog, Brave, because he’s adorable, but he is adorable to me because his special, “I missed you,” tail wag is different from any other lovable mutt’s. He is precious to me because he’s unlike any other dog I’ve ever met.

Think even of a season’s grape harvest, pressed into a magnificent vintage. What makes a wine favorable? Is it not because one year’s drought deepened the flavor and another climate’s cool soil heightened the acidity?

So what if we applied Lewis’ concept to our own bodies, if as God’s creatures we believed that the farther apart we grow we increase in perfection.

“Good, as it ripens, becomes continually more different not only from evil but from other good.”

*Body dysmorphic disorder is a type of mental illness, a somatoform disorder, wherein the affected person is concerned with body image, manifested as excessive concern about and preoccupation with a perceived defect of their physical features. Wikipedia

Resource for thought: Health at Every Size

The Old has Gone, The New has Come

A misconception about abusive relationships is that the person in the relationship is the only one who suffers. Sometimes, that’s where conventional therapy and intervention fail, addressing one person, searching for one cause, praying for one solution. For me, lasting peace did not come until I admitted the impact that my relationship with Ed had on my whole family. I had to listen to their hearts, absorb their pain and practice giving and receiving forgiveness.

To read more of this story, find me here: at Haven Journal. This is a series of three pieces, all of them have been published by Haven. I hope they encourage you.

Body Image and the Traditional Family

Have you ever thought about how body image is directly related to the demise of the family in modern society?

The traditional family is not simply under attack, but at this point has been so viscously and repeatedly assaulted that she is no longer recognizable as the institution she was created by God to be. It is also indisputable, even by the most liberal among us, that women’s physical bodies are so manipulated and objectified that frequently they don’t operate as God intended either.

Considering the family, I give you the divorce rate in America, the number of children in single parent homes, domestic abuse, latchkey kids, grandparents raising their children’s children, the disappearance of discipline and the overthrow of family interaction by tiny, handheld computers.

Considering the female body, I give you airbrushed magazine covers, (interesting article here) innocent daughters on diets, (talk about that here) every conceivable product offering a plastic-enhanced, fat-free version, menus touting “guilt-free” so that women have social permission to eat, women who can never have children after putting their bodies through premature menopause due to eating disorders in their formative years (ask yours truly).

Well known, observed facts, all of the above. But what do they have in common?

…great masters [demon tempters] produce in every age a general misdirection of what may be called sexual ‘taste.’ This they do by working through the small circle of popular artists, dressmakers, actresses and advertisers who determine the fashionable type. The aim is to guide each sex away from those members of the other with whom spiritually helpful, happy, and fertile marriages are most likely.

Have you ever thought of that?
That our obsession with perfect bodies (at least what the momentary, finicky appetite of sexual desire deems salable) has distracted eligible men and women from proper interests in the other sex based on faith, commitment, intellect and prayer? That an attitude of entitlement lends to severed marriages as one partner selfishly believes they deserve to be happy at the expense of their vows?

We now teach men to like women whose bodies are scarcely distinguishable from those of boys. Since this is a kind f beauty even more transitory than most, we thus aggravate the female’s chronic horror of growing old (with many excellent results) and render her less willing and less able to bear children.

As a result we are more and more directing the desires of men to something that does not exist – making the role of the eye in sexuality more and more important and at the same time making its demands more and more impossible. What follows you can easily forecast.

What astonishes me, is that C.S. Lewis published The Screwtape Letters in 1942. Screwtape was right, what followed was easily forecast. Seventy-one years later, we are fulfilling his prophecy.

What came first, the chicken or the egg? What came first, the decline of the family as the foundation of society or the objectification of the female body? Regardless, if we intentionally address one, will we necessarily affect other?

No More Strip Search

At Remuda, weigh-in day involved a strip search. Every fold of clothing, baggy sweatshirt or rubber soled shoe held potential. Girls at The Ranch were receiving treatment for eating disorders. And a girl with an eating disorder is nothing if not sneaky. I learned the tricks of the trade from more experienced friends.

Wear a water bra.
Drink tons of water within an hour of weigh-in.
Some had managed to hide books in the pockets of their hoodies.
Stuff your pockets.
Put sand in your shoes.

But the staff caught on, and hence forth, weigh-in day began with a strip search. Susan, the kindest nurse I remember, always turned her back while I undressed. When I was ready, she stepped close and slid the indicator down the bar. Did I mentioned that everyone weighed backwards? Some of us tried to count the clicks as the indicator slid.

Susan was sharp. She noticed the clench of a thigh, and if I tried to sneak a toe off the front edge of the platform. “Stand still.” After the traumatic, twice-weekly event, a small clump of nervous girls trudged back to our rooms to get dressed and then head to breakfast.

Before I got sick, I only vaguely knew my weight. Who cared? Occasionally, after swim team practice, I stepped on the scale and just as quickly forget the number.

When I left Remuda and progressed through aftercare, I terminated my relationship with the scale. I don’t own one. I refuse to look at them, staring straight ahead when I pass one in the gym locker room. Until yesterday, I couldn’t tell you within five pounds what I weighed. I only knew that my clothes still fit (and I think I look sexy). I can honestly tell you that I like my thighs, my stomach, my arms. I am proud of my strength. I can even knockout more than the minimum number of pull-ups for a female marine!

So what’s the big deal?

Yesterday, the nurse at the doctor’s office weighed me. There was no fanfare, no strip search, no one aware of my discomfort with the scale. Quite casually, she pointed in the direction of that frightful piece of equipment and turned her back to make notes. Hesitantly, I lined my toes up on the outline of a foot. I tried to stare straight ahead, but my eyes fell on the digital number when it beeped. Oh.

I weigh as much as I did before the eating disorder.

The shadow of belief that I am still skinny disappeared in the light of the glowing scale display. Normal. Is that OK? Am I ready to be normal? The naked truth is that I hadn’t realized that a sliver of my identity was still lodged in a belief that it’s better to be too thin that too fat, and that I was on the ‘good’ side.

Truthfully, I think I am ready. I didn’t do a crazy, compensatory workout this morning. I still enjoyed a beer with my husband last night. I have to admit, the new knowledge has continued to linger in my consciousness.

But, yes, I can handle the truth. I personally know the Creator of this good body and I trust Him to direct me in how to care for it and to show me what size He wants it to be.

March’s Schedule

Welcome to March, well almost. Here, February will slide right into the year’s third month with a poem. We’ll recognize March beginning in its first full week.

Sadly, today I have been inundated with cultural lies that I’d rather not address. The first one slammed me brutal and early from the morning news on the radio. But its aftershock was even worse. I looked up the headline on the internet which led me to a related lie that took my breath away. I wish I felt there was more of a benefit to making you aware of these lies too. Perhaps there is, if only to help you recognize and avoid them; to help you protect your children and fly to the truth that is Jesus Christ. So, I’ll take the first week of March to mention these:

1. An old, pervasive lie that reinvents itself with every generation: young girls convinced that they are ugly and fat. In their minds, this equates to being worthless, rejected, doomed for the rest of their earthly days.

2. Related to the above, Thinspiration. Heard of it? If not, consider yourself lucky. As I share the crux of this lie, I speak from personal experience. I won’t share links. This is the one that sank like a sharp stone in my gut. Oh how it hurts to know and remember.

3. This last one is a world-wide lie. Lost jobs, failed crops. Rising prices, lost homes. Unforeseen bills, surprise broken plumbing, stalled cars and illness. It’s tempting to wallow in hopelessness. It’s tempting to fudge on taxes or look for loopholes in financial obligations. It’s tempting to keep our tithe in bottom drawer.

The second week in March, I am excited to share a dawning truth in my own life. I am in the process of renewing my certification as personal trainer. I let my certification through IFPA lapse nearly 5 years ago. Though I have entertained the idea of doing it again several times, I always shied away, fearful that anorexia and exercise addiction would rear their ugly heads again. I didn’t believe that God could use my weakness in this area, that He could apply His strength in me and glorify Himself as He conquered the sin where I have fallen so many times before. So, as I’m studying, God has been showing me parallels between our physical bodies, training and our spiritual growth and discipline.

During the third week of March, I want to do a character study on Moses. My sisters and I have been studying holiness in a Precept study called, “Living Like You Belong to God.” The study focuses on the unholy behavior of the Israelites as God drew them away from their bondage in Egypt. God drew defining lines around His people. He called them out to be like Himself – set apart and utterly different from the nations around them. The Israelites faltered over and over, despite their very godly leader Moses. God insisted on using Moses, a stuttering, shy man to lead His people. Moses came to be defined as the most humble man that ever lived, a friend of God, and one with whom God spoke face-to-face.

The truth is that God makes us holy. Regardless of where we come from and how long it takes us to get our feet under us as we follow Him – Jesus is the cause, the means and the effect of our holiness.

Finally, week four. I might be saving the best for last. A continual student of Moody Ministries, I will again be reviewing a book that they published, Counterfeit Gospels. That’s pretty obvious, of course we’ll be discussing lies about the gospel that have invaded the pulpit. We will study to be wary, diligent and effective in our own churches.

Join me!

P. S. This picture was too cute NOT to republish! Click on it to visit a beautiful blog.

It’s Personal

I am quite skilled at containing two opinions in my own head and lobbying for dissenting convictions.

For many years, I hosted the little red devil on my left shoulder and the gleaming, screaming angel on my right.Simultaneously, they fed me suggestions. For a moment my head would cock to the right, imperceptibly to my acquaintances, then shift slightly to the left. My whole body would lean into one persuasion or the next, convinced of polar viewpoints, to the marrow of my bones with each new thought.

In the heat of an eating disorder, I couldn’t tell up from down as my very life hung in the balance. I often walked away from conversations unable to recall what someone had confided me; too consumed by the disagreement raging in my mind.

A counselor once told me to write out the dialogue. Maybe, if I could present the arguments to myself logically, on a page, then I could choose the merits of each opinion and come to a composite truth.

“You’re fat and ugly. You’re worthless and dispensable. In your sick obsession with anorexia, you’re a liability to your family. 

Talent? Don’t kid yourself. Did you see your sister? She’s capable of ten times what you can do.”

“Precious One! Don’t listen to that lie! You are a child of God. Eat, Dear One. God created you for His good purpose and He has promised to care for you physically as much as spiritually. You trust Jesus with eternity, you can trust Him with your weight today.”

“Your workout barely counted this morning. Three miles? Are you kidding me?”

“Rest, Child of God. Be still and know that God and cares for you intimately. He made you and knows your body inside out.”

The wrestling between my ears was agonizing. The war seethed, leaving my body a ravaged battle field and my mind wounded by fear. What ends a war? Only a victory. Peace is never found in the middle ground, the center of the battlefield, or in this case in my mind. So I simply gave up.

I don’t mean that I relinquished my life and succumbed to the death knell of self-starvation, depression and skewed pride. I quit searching for my own form of truth, a combination of the voices in my head. I quit trying to make peace between two mortal enemies.

Satan paints a pretty picture. He is the master of disguise. Genesis tells us that when Satan directed Eve’s gaze to the forbidden fruit, “it looked good to her.” Just like Eve, I can be convinced that his arguments make sense. Sometimes God’s law seems harsh and tolerance of sin seems like the easiest option.

“So I’ve discovered this truth: Evil is present with me even when I want to do what God’s standards say is good. I take pleasure in God’s standards in my inner being. However, I see a different standard at work throughout my body. It is at war with the standards my mind sets and tries to take me captive to sin’s standards which still exist throughout my body. What a miserable person I am! Who will rescue me from my dying body?”

What to do? I’m exhausted. I’m not strong enough to get it right, to banish sinful behaviors or stand up for truth one more time. I am in good company. The apostle Paul understood this internal argument. But he didn’t tell me to suck it up, tighten my belt, or try harder. He simply told me, let the best man win.

“I thank God that our Lord Jesus Christ rescues me!”

Romans 7:21-25a