“How could I let this happen?”
These words rang in my ears and echoed through my subconscious as I looked at myself in my laptop’s reflection.
This was not the first time I had been insecure about my image, but it was the first time I hardly recognized myself. Having gained a considerable amount of weight after my first year of college, I was in disbelief. Then came the body shame. How could I have let it get this bad?
I believed the lie told by the cunning serpent all the way back in Genesis 3. God is holding back. He is not as good as he says he is.
Yet, in the coming years of my college career, God would show me the truth about my body through the power of his Word.
At the end of Genesis 2, we see that Adam and Eve were naked, yet they were not ashamed.1 Shame was never supposed to be a part of God’s good creation. The joyous unity with God should have satisfied them, yet they were deceived into believing there was more to be enjoyed.
So, what happened after Adam and Eve sinned? They hid because their nakedness made them afraid.2 Instead of seeking repentance after God called for them, they felt shame, fear, and blame. They were ashamed of their rebellion against God, so they sought to cover up their fallen bodies with fig leaves. Their actions were useless, like any other attempt to fix our sins.
But God immediately spoke hope and provided a plan of redemption)! He told the serpent that an offspring of the woman would bruise his head, completely destroying him.3
Though the serpent might have caused some pain to this offspring (bruise his heel), the woman’s offspring would ultimately have the final victory. Jesus Christ is the prophesied offspring who would nail their shame to the cross and eternally cover their bodies with robes of righteousness!4
Christ is the only prophesied Savior who can deliver us from our body shame.
With so many voices flooding our social media grids and populating our news outlets, it’s easy to ignore the voice of our God, who knows us best. This is especially true when we look at ourselves in the mirror, tempted to compare ourselves to others or even our past selves. Shame might be a product of the fall, but the truth is embodied by our King and Savior, Jesus Christ, and it’s available to all who come to him.5
While we may not always like what we see in the mirror, God has already called our bodies good, and Jesus came to dismantle any lies that say otherwise.
Here are five truths to speak when you look at yourself in the mirror and may not like what you see:
- I am created in the image of a holy God.
Although our bodies are subject to sin because of what happened in the garden, our God is still holy. God’s holiness separates him from everything else in heaven and on earth. Even the angelic creatures in the perfect dwelling place of heaven testify about this:
“And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!’”Revelation 4:8, emphasis mine
“They never cease to say . . .” God’s utmost holiness invites us to worship him with unending praise. Just as Isaiah did when he saw the holiness of God stretching from the exalted throne to the hem of his robe6, we should examine the sin in our lives and seek cleansing leading to worship.
The things we experience with our bodies are a product of universal sin and sometimes even personal sins. Yet God remains on his holy throne!7 When we feel weak, discouraged, or ashamed of our bodies, God’s holiness is pure enough to heal us from any sins and lead us back to the worship that was always due to him. His love is too holy to let us stay as we are.
Because Jesus Christ, the Holy One,8 came to die for our sins, we can approach God in the most sinful state of our bodies, and he welcomes us. While he accepts us as we are, he also wants our bodies and the dispositions toward our bodies to return to his holy image.
I am created in the image of a holy God: Let this be our mantra the next time we find ourselves in front of a mirror.
- Whatever I’m struggling with in my body, God is able to deliver me.
More than eight thousand promises exist in the Bible. They all became “yes” and “amen” through Jesus Christ.9
Through the many trials with my body, it was hard to believe that God would do good on all his promises. While I felt the peace and encouragement he promises in Christ, I still yearned for deliverance. If anything, this promise of deliverance felt elusive.
Yet deliverance is part of God’s character. In delivering us from the greatest threat of all (eternal death), we can trust that he is still able to deliver.10 While he has the power to deliver us, he often uses trials with our bodies to remind us that he alone satisfies us and that our true joy doesn’t come from our bodies looking a certain way.
Recite this truth the next time you stand in front of the mirror and wonder if you’ll ever see deliverance. Remember this as you speak:
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.”Psalm 34:19
4. I have an amazing, creative Potter!
When God begins to deliver us, we may grow to like the image of our bodies and experience a temptation to fall more in love with the clay than the potter. But it is exactly this lust of the eyes toward the apple that led Eve away from her Creator.11
When we give credit to ourselves rather than God for his craftsmanship, we fall into the trap of vanity. Our eyes lust after the idol of self.
God, from whom all things proceed and to whom all things should be directed (Romans 11:36-12:1), created our bodies to be living sacrifices for him.12 He is the perfect Potter who created us out of his abounding love and good pleasure! Our eyes, then, should not linger too much on our images but on the one who created us for his glory and enjoyment.
Since only God can change our thoughts to be spirit-filled, we should surrender our image of self in prayer. As we do so, the lust of our eyes will slowly become a desire to behold the glory of our perfect potter. He is the only one to be glorified for his craftsmanship, so why not give what is due to him as we look at our reflections today?
5. I am in the process of becoming more like Christ, and this is what truly matters.
When we accept Christ as our Savior, we enter into the process of becoming like him. Hebrews 1:3 describes Jesus as “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” By sending his Son to die for us, God made a way for us to radiate the likeness of his image. Jesus approached us in his life, death, and resurrection, so as we approach him in every aspect of who he is, we become more like him.
While our bodies are decaying with time, as we turn to the Lord, we will only become increasingly more like his glorious Son.
“But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”2 Corinthians 3:16-18, emphasis mine
As we turn to the Lord in Scripture and contemplate his glory, we become more like his intended image for us. Our Christ-like selves will prevail unto eternity, not our earthly bodies. When we become discouraged with our ever-changing bodies, may we speak the truth of an ever-changing spirit radiating Christ’s glory.
6. I am the temple of the Spirit of God.
After Jesus had risen, he left his disciples a special gift: the Holy Spirit.
“Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit”John 20:22
By giving us the Spirit, Jesus redefined what it means for our bodies to be good. The Holy Spirit transforms us from the inside out, thus changing our whole beings to be Spirit-led.
God says our bodies are good because they are home of his Spirit. The Spirit who raised Christ from the dead kept him from temptation and comforted him in the worst of his trials. The same Spirit does that and so much more for us today!
While society tells us that we must abide by a certain standard for our bodies to be good, God tells us they are already good because we are his. The Spirit testifies to his truth by crying out “Abba, Father” from within us.13
There’s so much potential for us to enjoy and glorify God through the work of the Spirit in our bodies! The next time you are face to face with your reflection in the mirror, remember whose you are and the Spirit living inside.
My dear sister in Christ, I’m with you on this journey. I still mess up and believe the lies. I struggle to see what God sees in the mirror. But I’ve also experienced the freedom of a body that is attuned to his purposes. While I pray that you speak these truths when you face your reflection, above all, I pray that you spend time with your Creator. As you spend time with him, he equips you with every tool needed to stand up against the lies of the enemy.14
When the enemy’s lies about your body trickle into your thoughts, look up Bible passages that directly combat those lies. Once you’ve found passages that can help you in your journey, create notecards to place on your mirror. Spend time in prayer, and ask him to remind you of the goodness of your body and the goodness that is yet to come.
You alone are good.
Nothing that you make departs from your good, holy purposes.
I confess that I have not at times appreciated or treated my body as being good.
Yet, you are still on your throne!
Bind your words around my neck that they may overpower any reason for shame.
Change my mind to think of that which is praiseworthy.
Transform my eyes, hands, and whole body to do your will.
I surrender to your promise of deliverance.
Help me not to believe in the lies, but hold fast to your promises.
When I’m faced by my reflection, may the face of your Son remind me that I’m loved as I am but that you love me too much to let me stay as I am.
Let it be all for your glory, Father.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
Long before Ela knew of storytelling as a vehicle for gospel-fueled transformation, she was already crafting stories with hopeful endings. While this went on for a while, her journey took a drastic turn when she went to Taylor University and encountered hope in the face of God. He was the ultimate hope she was searching for amidst her stories. With that knowledge came new layers of storytelling—photography, baking, videography, and more. She now enjoys studying the Word of her personal God and sharing what he is teaching her through the art of writing.
Ela, this message is so important for the body of Christ! May we raise up the healthiest, most creative, joy-filled followers ever! Thank you for sharing it.
Thank you, Jennifer! Amen—we need healthy, joy-filled followers of Christ who yearn to reflect and accept God’s goodness for their own bodies.