Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

As I enter into my last month of being 32 (or is it 33?) I have been thinking about body image, how I view myself, and how I want my girls to view themselves. I am raising two girls (and spend enough time with my 13 year old sister that I will claim her as my own), so naturally, being and feeling pretty is kinda a big deal. Like it or not, how we see ourselves and how others see us matters to us. I don't want it to, but it does. Of course, these thoughts are buoyed by the fact that it also happens to be swimsuit season.

I have been working through my own issues and how I am going to frame the lessons on body image to my girls and I realised I wasn't too familiar with what the Bible has to say on the issue.

In case you haven't noticed, the Bible doesn't have a whole lot to say about maintaining a healthy body image. Seeing as body image is a ginormous hurdle for women and girls and some men and boys, you'd think there would be whole chapters devoted to it, right?

It's no mistake that the Bible reinforces character over looks. It's also no mistake that there isn't a whole lot to be said in the Bible about body image. That's because what little is there is so powerful that we should be holding it close to our hearts as a daily reminder. God definitely means for us to be Christ-centered, looking towards Him and focusing our hearts and minds on what is good and holy. In other words, not on perfecting my swimsuit body.

In 1 Samuel 16:7 we are reminded that God does not see us how others see us, 7But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” It's always good to have the reminder that our hearts and our character mean more to God than anything else. That's why it is so important to guard our hearts and our minds.

However, while our hearts and minds and character are important, we are reminded in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 that our bodies are still temples of the Holy Spirit and should be treated as such.
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20  for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.  

Glorify God with my body, huh? How the heck does that play out? We have all heard this verse used time and again as a warning against tattoos and piercings; (even though that scripture is about sexual immorality) so much so that it has lost all other meaning. While the context of this scripture is that we should treat our bodies as temples in respect to sex, I believe it also applies quite nicely to how we should treat our bodies in general. 

You wouldn't tear up a temple or treat it badly, would you? Probably not. While our heart and character is what most concerns God, He also wants us to treat our body as a temple. Seeing as temples aren't shabby, unimpressive piles of brick, I take that to mean that we should be proud of and take care in how we look.

One thing the Bible does mention time and again is that we are made in God's image. Fearfully and wonderfully. What does it mean to be fearfully and wonderfully made? That sounds pretty impressive, doesn't it? Like maybe we have a Creator who knew us and loved us before we were born and fearfully and wonderfully made us into something beautiful, right? 

Psalm 139:13-16 is a lovely reminder of this, followed by the kicker, Genesis 1:27.
13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15  My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

 Genesis 1:27 (emphasis added)
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

If we are created in His image, then what I look like isn't on accident. It isn't an accident that I have hair that can't decide if it's curly or straight. My height and weight, eye color and skin color aren't an accident. My proclivity towards acne well into my 30s? Not. An. Accident. I was created in Gods image, fearfully and wonderfully as a temple for the Holy Spirit.

What can I take away from all this? Well, for starters, I can ease up on myself for not being the size 6 I was 19. I don't know about you, but when I was in college I didn't exactly treat my body as a temple. I was pretty reckless and tiptoed the line between crash dieting and an eating disorder, so I didn't exactly come by that size 6 honestly. Yet that size is my dream standard. It's how I see myself in my mind's eye and what I always want to be.

In my 33rd year (I did the math, I will be 33, not 34) I have decided to take these verses to heart. I am going to remind myself daily, that as long as I am eating healthfully, getting enough exercise, and occasionally not being too lazy to put on some makeup, I can rest in the knowledge that I am in God's image. All my imperfections in appearance are really only what I or others think are imperfect, not God.
 Again how does knowing all this play out practically in my life and what I teach my girls? Simply this:

1. In light of 1 Samuel 16:7 I need to remember that my heart means more to God than anything else. 

2. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 reminds me that my body is a temple. While the heart is more important, I know that looking and feeling my best is part of maintain the "temple" Mani-Pedi, anyone?

3. Being fearfully and wonderfully made in God's image (Psalm 139:13-16; Genesis 1:27) very simply means that I need to recognise that creating man (ME) ain't no small thing. God made me to be me. To look like this. In His image.

Mark your calendars, girls. As of right now I am resting in these words and the knowledge that I look exactly the way God intended me to. I will never be the prettiest girl in the room by some standards, but those standards are dumb anyway.


  1. What a great reminder. I am writing an essay about body image/self-love right now so it's nice to see it from another person's POV:)

  2. awesome! I love it!
    --sarah c

  3. Love this, Claire! Especially #3: God made me to be me. How easy it is to forget this and think that I need to alter His creation.

    Also. Love that your sister is 13. I'll be 30 in April and my one and only little sissy love will be 9 in February -- I turned 21 the year she was born and love to claim her as my own. :)


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