I heard a shocking, but not truly surprising, statistic recently: 99% of women struggle with body image. As many beautiful, stunning women as there are on the planet and almost NONE of us truly love ourselves. Ladies – we have to break that cycle! Recently, God’s been taking me on a journey of loving and accepting myself. He’s helped me deconstruct some deeply rooted lies I believed about myself as a young girl, and that’s the story I want to tell today.
For most of my life, I had an antagonistic relationship with food and my own body – going from cycles of restricting to overeating and back again. For at least 5 years in my late twenties, I was a functioning anorexic. I’ve also had my bouts with binge eating. The latter still rears its ugly head sometimes, which is why I’m hitting this with God. It’s taken years of prayer and healing to get to where I can actually eat for the nutrition and enjoyment that God intended to get out of something I HAVE to do three times a day. I’ve experienced so much freedom already, but I still feel some bonds. The Word promises that where His spirit is there is FREEDOM. No qualifiers. That’s what I’m after, and God has met me in beautiful ways.
About two months ago, I was worshiping and suddenly I began weeping from the depths of my heart. It felt like grief. But I wasn’t sure where it was coming from, so I asked God to show me.
Suddenly a shadow memory flashed in my mind. I was at our pool, sitting in the sun, eating Cheetos and I just remember feeling ashamed. I started worshiping again, and the tears kept flowing. I pressed in and heard my Father say he wanted to deal with the root of my shame.
I started to remember more of that day, but it took a while to fully come back. I remembered I was wearing my purple bathing suit with white polka dots, so I was about eight. It was my birthday party and I was taking a break after swimming. I was tired - a good tired - and I’m eating Cheetos. What could possibly be better?
Then a very influential adult in my life walked by, threw out a comment and immediately, I felt cold, lonely and insecure. I just wanted to hide. Oh, it was such a simple comment. She just said, “Why are you eating all that? Look at that belly!” But one careless statement caused me SO much pain. While the Holy Spirit was walking me through this memory, I felt countless emotions. First, I realized I have shamed myself almost constantly for nearly 30 years. What a waste! I gave away my birthright and my freedom as a perfect daughter.
That’s when God whispered, “The tears you cried this morning? Those are the tears you should have let yourself cry in that moment. You were grieving the loss of all those years of accepting yourself.”
Secondly, I was slammed with the realization that as a young girl I tied shame to only certain kinds of food. I grew up in a home that put a fear based focus on healthy eating. I heard criticism and judgments about those who weren’t making the same food choices we were and jabs at things labeled as unhealthy. It caused a fear in me that if I was ever like "those people," something was wrong with me. I felt shame any time I ate something classified as unhealthy. Later, that manifested in overly restrictive food rules. It was a slippery slope, and I went all the way down it.
Knowing I needed healing from the pain of that memory, I asked Father God for clarity. He revealed to me the lie I believed and the truth to overcome it. The lie was that there was something wrong with me: I was an over eater, and I needed to shame myself into eating the right way. The truth is, I was a child. I was hungry, and I needed that food. He called me into freedom and forgiveness. My identity rests in Him as his perfect, beautiful daughter, created to be an example of health and freedom. The Enemy can attack that, but he cannot take it away.
I received truth that day and since then, He’s been teaching me how to love myself and He’s highlighted in the Word how He created me and what it means to be accepted.
How many of us have those moments in our childhood that seemed so small and innocent, but were moments of identity attacks? It’s the enemy’s intent to wound and cripple us. He wants to destroy us, and he doesn’t have to do much if he can just get us to believe a lie about ourselves.
If you’ve struggled with your body image, loving yourself, low self esteem or any attack on your beauty as a woman, my hope and prayer is that you will take this conversation to God and ask Him what He thinks of you. Ask Him to show you where you believed the lie that you were anything less than perfect. He created you with great Joy. You were fearfully and wonderfully made. He rejoices and sings over you and He longs to tell you how much He loves you. Just ask Him and then listen.
About Katherine Harrold
Katherine is a North Carolina girl who moved to Texas 17 years ago because God said to and she’s never regretted it. Thirteen years after that, the Lord told her to lay down her successful catering business and to trust Him. That was four years ago and since then, Katherine has been working and serving in her home church in the Fort Worth area. She’s also rediscovered her dreams for worship, writing and singing and is taking big steps to follow them She’s picking it all up and moving to California to attend Bethel’s School of Ministry in Redding. It’s another journey of faith, and she’ll be documenting the whole thing on her blog! You can check out her story here.When she’s not writing or laughing with friends, Katherine still loves to break out the baking supplies on occasion and whip up something yummy. More than anything she is passionate about connecting people to the God who loves them passionately and with wild abandon, and with the identity He has spoken over them.