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Do you wish you heard answers in the Church on how to get healthy and have a godly confident view of yourself?
There are millions of women who love Jesus searching for fitness and wholeness answers. They long to get rid of the weight, they don’t know how to deal with their ever-changing hormones, they want to have the energy and desire to workout, they want to look in the mirror and love who they see, they just want to feel good in their body, and they need help.
But the Church and Christian community and are silent when it comes to health, fitness, and body image answers. Why?
I’ve recently shared the...bring me to my knees... awesome gift God gave me with Pure Flix streaming my workout series Faith Inspired Transformation, F.I.T.
But my story didn’t start that way and I have been fighting a battle that I don't share, so here I go:
Most of us, at some point, struggle with weight and body issues - this touches the lives of pretty much all the women we know, our daughters, our friends, our sisters, and there is a mix of confusion, judgment, and body shaming going on regardless if you’re overweight or fit ….
It’s painful and paralyzing...how are we supposed to know what to do?
I share this story with you so that you know YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
When I first started out, I was discouraged and hopeless.
My dad had a stroke and a quadruple bypass at only 47 years old.
I was scared for him, for our family, and I was desperate to learn how to get healthy.
When I asked the women’s ministry leader at my Church, she said, “ fitness is vain”, so I left feeling judged and shamed for wanting to learn how to take care of my health.
Then I went to the world for answers, and it took years to undo the damage this caused.
Have you ever noticed nobody wants to make it simple, they just want to sell you something and they talk about deprivation diets?
Doing that taught me to think like this:
When I underate I felt like a success, good about myself
When I overate, I felt like a failure, and not good about myself at all
Dieting the world’s way seemed all or nothing.
So I wondered, why didn’t the Church was quiet about it when the Bible says:
“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” – 3 John 2
I took my goals to the extreme and decided to do a fitness competition
After that, the magazines would interview me, because I was older, and I had learned a lot of gymnastics, so they felt I was inspiring, but what they didn’t see was that it was a house of cards...ready to collapse.
You see the truth is the way I looked when I was competing or fitness modeling was impossible to maintain. And the only thing that made me feel better was signing up to do it again. What’s the next event to live for to keep me on track.
One day at church, I cried my heart out to God. I needed help. I wanted to off of this roller coaster and to be free of rehearsing what I ate and constantly feeling like a failure. He gave me answers, and I finally found lasting success.
I wanted to write a book about it, but a literary agent said, "the church doesn't want this message and they will reject you because of the way you look, and because I competed in fitness and was a fitness model.
I’ve experienced so much rejection, shaming, and judgment that brought me to tears. Moments when if it wasn't for Jesus, I would have quit.
It hurts to be shamed because of how you look...or don’t look.
This hurt me so deeply because I didn’t do these things to be vain, I did them because I watched my dad have a stroke, a quadruple bypass, my brother Billy have to give him a kidney, and then he passed away of a massive heart attack.
This changed everything about me.
My motivation was to own my part in my health to take care of the body God gave me.
Think of your daughter or a young person in your life, do you want them going to the world for answers: Diet pills, drugs, anorexia, body dysmorphic disorder, social media pressure and obsession for approval? No!
This can’t be ignored anymore!
So if we heard more about this in Church, if we grow up with a biblical answer, don’t you think it would help greatly?
Fitness, wholeness, and wellness, God’s way aren’t vain; they are to fulfill your purpose, to live your best life for Him.
The definition of vanity in the bIble is temporary, but life in Christ is eternal.
It seems the current strategy is to ignore it.
So if we ignore it will it go away?! Absolutely not!
When I didn’t get answers from the Church, like many of us, I went to the world, and it took years with Jesus to undo the false information I learned and the mistakes I made.
How is that healthy? How is that helping anybody?
God doesn't want that for us, friends!
Countless women email with questions struggling with confusion surrounding fitness being vain, how to get control over food, body image, aging, raising healthy daughters, and on and on...
My prayer is that the Church will start to talk about these issues.
As I researched obesity in the Church, I found statistics that show the Church is the most overweight group of people. This just shouldn't be.
We have the power, wisdom, strength of God in us, friends!
The problem I believe is that there's a legalistic spirit in the Church about fitness, wholeness, wellness, and they’ve thrown the baby out with the bathwater.
Here’s a definition of legalism from Bible.org:
The Apostle Paul taught that legalism is an aggressive evil that those who have been saved by grace must strongly oppose.
In Colossians 2:16-23, Paul tells his readers that they must strongly resist the legalistic approach of the false teachers. There are two commands in verses 16-19: “Let no one act as your judge” in regard to certain matters (vs. 16); and, “Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize” (vs. 18), which might better be translated, “Let no one set themselves up as umpire to pass judgment against you.” Both commands are saying the same thing: We must strongly reject legalism as a way of Christian living.
The heart of legalism is an attitude of pride. The legalist prides himself for keeping certain standards and judges others who do not keep those standards. The legalist thinks that he is made acceptable to God, either for salvation or spirituality, by his conformity to certain rules that he picks and chooses. Invariably, those rules are not things like loving the Lord with all your heart or loving your neighbor as yourself. Rather, the legalist picks rules that he is able to keep and conveniently neglects or ignores the things he is not able to keep. The legalist often focuses on external conformity while neglecting the heart righteousness God requires (Matt. 23:23-28). Dr. Charles Ryrie (Balancing the Christian Life [Moody Press], p. 159) defines legalism as “a fleshly attitude which conforms to a code for the purpose of exalting self.
If you’re wondering what legalism looks like, here's a comedic example from Crossway.
Ah! You actually drink a glass of wine!
You attend regular movies!
You don’t wear a dress to church on Sunday! I’ve got my eye on you.
I noticed that you read a different version of the Bible rather than the one we approve of!
You don’t believe everything I do? Oh, my!
You have a tattoo! I also noticed that you don’t always close your eyes when you pray!
You tithe out of your net income rather than your gross.
Ah! God’ll get you for that! And you call yourself a Christian!”
One unmistakable sign of a legalistic spirit is the tendency always to be looking for what’s wrong in other people’s lives in order to judge them, instead of looking for what’s right in order to encourage them.
What drives this spirit? Pride!
Look at Mark 2:24: “And the Pharisees were saying to him, ‘Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?’” Or again, Mark 3:2: “they watched him closely” That’s the legalists’ spirit: always on the lookout for someone else’s sin; always scanning the horizon for someone’s failure to measure up to their rules, rules that aren’t in the Bible; always spying on the behavior and beliefs of the other person to root out the slightest deviation from their traditions. They nitpick and judge!
This is the energy that drives the spirit of legalism and man-made religion. (Crossway)
But GOD! 1 Samuel 16:7 says “Do not look at his appearance or his stature because I have rejected him. Humans do not see what the Lord sees, for humans see what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.”
The damage that this is doing though can’t be overstated, we can’t take a legalistic attitude toward health and just lump all of wellness into a worldly vanity project.
There are some exceptions, so please know my heart.
Here’s the main thing I want you to remember:
Give yourself permission to be the woman God is calling you to be UNAPOLOGETICALLY!
But NEVER let it overtake you or stop you from being the woman God is calling you to be.
Love yourself the way God loves you...and love your neighbor as yourself
I love the stories where you see someone who has been body shamed, or who’s been judged or rejected, or who’s felt that spirit of legalism all over them, and yet there’s this becoming...
There’s this moment, when you see they don’t settle for it anymore, they don’t fall for it anymore, they are alive in Jesus and his voice is louder than any of the lies...and you know what the best part is, they know, deep in the pit of their soul what God has done for them so they don’t dare do it to anyone else anymore
Praise God for His freeing WORD.
I'm going to pray for us:
We can all remember a time when we felt the blow of body shaming, the sting of legalism, the hurt of judgment and rejection, and maybe some of us are going through that right now.
Help us stand up in the Holy Spirit and reject it!
Lord, examine our hearts, let us not be participants in the very thing that hurts us…
Father, please help the message of wellness to be heard in the church, so we and our precious children will be armed with your Word and Your ways to fight this battle.
In Jesus name’ amen.
"See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ." Colossians 2:8
The Bible is our instruction manual for life and we need it in our health and body image too.
Now you know I’m never going to leave you without asking you to get into action because nothing happened without it!
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Until next time...
From my heart to yours,
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