Recently, I stood up the front of my church and told 25 or so highschoolers that they are all fearfully and wonderfully made. I told them that their bodies are precious, precious temples and that God doesn’t make mistakes. I meant every word of it. Every single word.
Not long afterwards, when all the hype and craziness of the night had passed, I felt a prick of guilt deep in my gut. It took me some time to identify the feeling for what it really was… why it was there, what it meant. To put it into words would sound something like this:
How much of this advice do I really believe about myself? How can I tell these beautiful humans not to worry about their appearance when – sometimes – my own opinion of my body drags me so deeply into a state of discontent?* Who am I to tell them? What a hypocrite. I am inadequate to share God’s message to these kids.
*This doesn’t happen often anymore, but I have my moments…
But in His love, God reminded me of two very important things.
The first: that I need to be kind to myself, to be gentle with this fragile soul. And this is for His good, for the good of other’s, for my own good. When I am kind to myself I’m also more loving towards my friends and family, more empathetic, better able to be like Christ. But it’s something that I’ve always struggled with. It just seems so much easier to tear myself down, to assume the worst. How easy it is to be unkind to my body, then be unkind to myself about the fact that I’m not kind to my body, that I don’t love it as it is.
The second reminder was that we are all in a state of growth and progress. None of us are perfect in anything we do, and we can never fabricate perfection for ourselves, so why should we run after it? In the words of Emily Ley, let’s hold ourselves to a standard of grace, not perfection. I can’t be perfect on my own, I can only rest in God’s grace… and me oh my, that’s a nice place to be.
With these two reminders on my heart, I’m totally free to admit that I do not have perfect body image, far from it. Just like I don’t have a perfect body, I don’t have a perfectly loving opinion of it either, and God doesn’t expect me to. Enough with trying to be the perfect Christian/daughter/friend/youth group leader/sister/human… It’s a hopeless pursuit.
Because here’s the thing: God doesn’t demand perfection, He only asks that I try and trust what He says about me and act accordingly. Ain’t that good news?