Oh, how I remember this feeling. It didn’t happen all the time, but every once in a while, I would despair to the point of tears. Alone. Hidden away in the bathroom. And what caused it?
Catching a full-body shot of myself in the mirror.
Most days I just didn’t like the way I looked and it affected my thinking. It changed how I felt about life. It was certainly all-consuming but didn’t usually bring the tears. Yet every once in a while…they came.
Like you, perhaps, I had three types of responses to this situation. Sometimes I would just deal with one or two, sometimes all three. See if you can relate.
Since I had spent decades fighting this battle, I often just wanted to give up when the image in the mirror made me want to cry. I would feel hopeless that whatever was making me so miserable about myself would just be part of my life forever. I just felt a deep sense of despair.
Did you know that when you give up and lose hope in any realm of life, you get depressed? And when I got depressed, I ate. You can see how well this scenario would go for me. But wait, there’s more…
Under no circumstances did I want to be around others socially in this state. The idea of going out and being among people was torture. But even more problematic, I wanted to hide from my husband, as well. Poor Mr. Szarko was so patient and loving with me. He was powerless to help, and I felt powerless to escape the enslaving feelings, emotions, and preoccupations.
Had I understood then what I do now, I would have realized that the best and most amazing intimacy occurs when my truest, most imperfect, most vulnerable self is seen, loved, accepted, and cherished by another’s truest, most imperfect, most vulnerable self.
That’s what Mr. Szarko offers me, and I’ll bet your husband will, too…if you let him. When the mirror makes you want to cry, turn it around. Recognize this moment as an opportunity to experience the blessing of real love and intimacy that only can be found in imperfection.
There is nothing else like it in all of life, and it cannot be achieved when we hide ourselves from those who love us.
Start the next diet
While I knew this would make me somewhat miserable, I was always willing to give into the misery of dieting to rescue myself from the bigger misery of continuing to see myself the way I did. Perhaps you, too, think dieting is the only solution when the image in the mirror makes you want to cry. I understand.
The problem was that dieting perpetuated this problem without getting to the root issues that caused it. Here’s a little challenge for you. Please fill in the blank.
“Temporary health behaviors have _________ (permanent, temporary) results.”
While there are exceptions in disease cases, when trying to achieve a lifestyle of health, will behaviors undertaken for a week, month, or even several months have lifelong results? Of course not. And when we diet, a behavior that rarely can be maintained for a longer period of time, we see results only while adhering to it. Afterward, there is usually quite a backlash. (To discover a way to lasting health without dieting, get my free ebook HERE.)
A distorted view
You may think from reading the above that I was significantly obese, had a debilitating birth defect, or had a face like a Picasso painting, but in reality, none of these were true.
My body image was a reality that lived in my thoughts, desires, and expectations…none of which were being conformed to the image of Christ. My heart was actually full of itself, not submitted to God and being made new.
If you are struggling with the way you look to the degree that your thoughts, emotions, and relationships are being harmed by it, consider that your perspective is probably wrong. When the reflection in the mirror makes you want to cry, know that you are not stuck in this trap.
Try this exercise
Think about people who are in larger or fatter bodies than you. Are they all miserable? Do you find them unworthy of love? Have they earned a friendless, joyless existence on earth?
If you said NO, you are beginning to see that your problem is not ultimately your body shape or size; it is your thinking and your perception that need spiritual remodeling. If you said YES…well, it’s exactly the same thing, but you may need extra help to see it, break this bondage, and find real, lasting freedom in Christ.
Where do you go from here?
If it isn’t clear yet, please understand that what I was really dealing with was a deep heart issue. One that Christ had to set me free from. If you relate to my story, you need the grace and power of Christ to set you free, as well.
I am here to help. If you are ready to stop this cycle and would like me to walk with you through this pain to a place of contentment and peace with your body, click HERE and get on a chat with me. You will discover how we can work together and how you can get on your way to true food and body image freedom in Christ!