Self-Perception and the Body

I think after the close to one-millionth time I’ve looked in the mirror this year, I’ve grown tired. I’ve grown tired of trying to convince myself I’m good enough, and I’m guessing you have too. There are so many things we could change about our physical appearance, right? And as soon as one thing is good to go, another one pops up and grasps our negative attention with a vengeance even worse than what had a hold of us before. The acne is gone but what about the jiggling legs? The legs are toned but what about the jawline? The jawline’s chiseled but what about my tummy? My tummy’s flatter, but what about… The same goes for our personalities and interactions. My loud voice is tamed but what about… (I won’t list more of those for you here, I’m sure you can fill them in yourself.)

You see how easily we spiral? How all consuming and self-destructive our hateful thoughts become?

Neurological science has found that about 80% of our thoughts are negative and 95% of them are repetitive. That means roughly 76% of our thoughts are patterns of negative thought—imagine how much more loving and enjoyable people and their lives would be if only we could reverse that 76% into Kingdom of Heaven thoughts. Of that 76%, how much do you think is mostly about you? All of it? Probably most of the time.

We are obsessed with self-disdain and self-pity.

Now, we always have things to work on, don’t get me wrong, we’re all imperfect; but it seems to me like if we don’t have something about ourselves that we work away out of self-loathing, then we aren’t correctly self-regulating? Society tells us to never be satisfied with who we are—our personalities and our bodies, our jobs and our wardrobes, can always be better. But why are we so ready to listen to such a narrative? Yes, we should always be working toward the goal of becoming better people—building up good character—but why do we need to become quieter and thinner to do that? Why do we need to speak less and wear tighter clothes or workout incessantly to do that?

There is healthy desire to change and there is self-degrading desire to change. If you don’t love yourself now, what makes you believe you will if you lose 10 pounds or stop talking quite as much? If we cannot love who we are right in this moment, knowing our faults while also loving our strengths, changing things about ourselves won’t finally force us to. While there is character development and keeping ourselves healthy, we must also keep at the forefront of our minds that we are fearfully and wonderfully made—we were knit together by Hand in our mother’s womb, and if this is the case, there are intrinsic things about us that God designed directly for us. Parts of our personality that cannot be easily replaced by someone else in the roles we fill. Parts of our physical selves that offer uniqueness and diversity of humanness because each difference from one person to another is Good and Beautiful and Important. The Kingdom of Heaven isn’t built up only with the thin, soft-spoken, down-to-earth, white, blonde, blue-eyed, and traditionally attractive. There are plenty of people in the Kingdom who fit this description, and they are so important to the Kingdom—but not more important. We all carry a weight of Glory and responsibility of Kingdom building with us, and if we cannot see within ourselves that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (body, personality, and all), how can we honestly look into the eyes of another person and tell them that they are fearfully and wonderfully made and should believe it for themselves? What we walk in will show up in our ministry, for better or for worse.

It is time that we lay down the lies of believing we’re not good enough because our bodies don’t look quite the way we’ve always thought they should and our personalities take up more room than we’re told we’re allowed.

The Kingdom is built on Unity, not uniformity. So let’s take strong hold of our diversity to increase this Unity-building—we can only be so unified as we are sure of our own value within the Unity of the Church. Where we are unsure of our equally valued selves, we cannot ever be truly convinced that we are surely valued in the Body. So love your body, love how good you are at capturing attention or working behind the scenes or giving really great advice. Our gifts and our bodies—the way that they are is not a mistake. Fearfully and wonderfully made—designed by the hand of the Good Father—don’t you daresay you’re not Good Enough.

•••

With Love,

Hannah

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