Yesterday I went to the gym and decided mid-lift to go weigh myself on the neat little scale sitting over in the corner. I was working out alongside some weight-builder guy and a thin, pretty blonde girl who had cute leggings on. I thought, “Okay, I wasn’t great at working out this summer but this can’t be THAT bad, right? Maybe a couple of pounds?”
So I weighed myself. As I watched the numbers climb on the scale and land on a number I didn’t expect, I felt that familiar feeling that I think we all have had after we’ve had too many pieces of chocolate or eaten one too many tacos at 11:30pm on a Tuesday night.
I texted my friend a very calm and collected, “I GAINED WEIGHT HELP WHAT TO I DO” and climbed up on top of an elliptical as if sprint riding a fake bike for 10 minutes was going to do anything right that minute.
She texted back and said, “Gaining weight is a human thing.”
That was the moment I decided to write this blog (in case you were wondering).
My entire life, I’ve struggled with the concept of my own weight and body image. It’s not that I’ve struggled with an actual lack of fitness, it’s just that I’ve never fully been confident in my own body, regardless of the size of it. When I was a freshman in high school, I was probably a solid 125lbs and a size 4. I also hated my body and thought that if I didn’t run every single day, the pounds would pile up and I’d never find a husband. (High school freshman Sena was super dramatic, not unlike college graduate Sena.)
I hate to say that I know these feelings are normal and that the average female (and I’m sure males feel this way too, I just don’t have any experience in the male mind) has felt, at one point or another, uncomfortable in her body.
I have literally cried about my body. One time I saw a picture of myself eating a potato chip and literally burst into tears and resolved to never eat potato chips again. (I still eat potato chips, don’t worry.)
I’ve had friends and dated boys who pointed out my imperfections, joked about my “oversized thunder thighs”, and claimed to be “only joking” while they tore me down shred by shred while I just pretended to not be bothered.
I had a person that I loved grab a part of my stomach and say, “look at that fat,” as if to say, “who could love you with that bit of skin on your stomach? You’re lucky I do because no one else would.”
I don’t doubt others have had similar experiences.
I’ve noticed more and more that I see Instagram models and fitness gurus telling me to “love my body” and to “accept myself” and those messages are wonderful and so appreciated. I’ve also noticed that I’ve never actually been taught how to love my body. I’m told to just do it. And in that moment that I see an Insta-model post a picture of her stretch marks or her jiggly thighs, I feel great! I think “wow, Sena, you CAN be loved because look at how many people love her!” I am encouraged by the comments below her photo that all point out how great she is regardless of her size, how inspirational she is.
It IS encouraging. It really is. But it’s just a fleeting moment until I walk myself into my bathroom and look at myself in the mirror. Or I walk into the gym and notice that you still can’t see my abs. Or I find myself sitting down to eat a bowl of icecream. I’ve already forgotten my confidence – or, rather, my false confidence.
That’s because I can’t allow myself to find confidence in the words of another. I have been told I am beautiful countless times by my mother and father. I have been loved by my friends who have encouraged me in my struggles. I’ve gotten words of affirmation from men I’ve dated (and catcallers but WHO LIKES THOSE GUYS, NOT ME). But in those moments of brokenness, it’s so easy to forget those words. I look back on the feelings of doubt, self-hatred, and lack of confidence.
You know what the good news is though? I have hope and trust in Jesus. Now, that hope and trust isn’t going to make me lose weight or erase my years of stretchmarks or make my thighs less jiggly. Only natural things can change that, like exercise and putting down that bowl of icecream.
But my hope and trust can translate into peace. It can translate into a confidence grounded in Christ’s love for me. It can’t literally change my appearance, but it can erase the emotional scars left by past years.
Hey, reader, Jesus doesn’t care one bit what you look like. He doesn’t care if you’re too skinny, too fat, too tall, too short, have a big nose, or not even a nose at all. He cares about you. The you that God created. The person. Your personality, your heart, your thoughts, your desires. He cares that you hurt and that you feel unlovable. He wants you regardless of what you look like.
Now, that doesn’t answer questions of whether I’ll find a husband who will love my imperfect, scarred body. Only God and time can answer that question. But it does tell me that no matter what, I am lovable because Christ says so. I don’t need a natural perspective when God looks upon me with absolute desire and a perfect love.
God created us with changing bodies that grow, shrink, and shrivel. Accept it. Accept your size and your color. Accept your smile with your crooked teeth. Accept your jiggly thighs. Accept those acne scars. Accept your bitten nails and your hair that sheds. Accept your height and your weight and your depth. Take up space, as much space as you need. God created you and loved you and sent Jesus to save you – all of you.
At the very least, dear reader, let me accept you. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. I see that. I see that you are loved. You are irreplaceable. There is no one like you, ever, and there never could be anyone that would take your place. Your worth can not be measured in natural things like your weight.
Your worth is measured by the price paid at the cross.