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  • Writer's pictureJen Stone-Sexton

Imperfect by Design - Loving the Body You Live In

Do you struggle with accepting your body while being bombarded by images culture promotes as beautiful? I do too. But what does God say? Read the blog to discover freedom in identity and why you are imperfect by design.

Do you struggle with feeling like you measure up to the images of “ideal” that you are barraged with on a daily basis? We are constantly told by the world that to “be enough” we have to look a certain way (i.e. thin), be a certain age (i.e. young), dress a certain way (i.e. fashionable) and act a certain way (i.e. culturally cool and politically correct).

But what does God say about that?

Many aspects of the Babylonian, Medio-Persian, Greek and Roman culture is still alive today. This cultural mindset influences our perceptions about ourselves, about others and how we view the values of the world we live in. (A few examples of Babylonian culture are in the book of Daniel, and of the Medio-Persian Empire, in the book of Esther.)

In Genesis we read that when God created …. He called it “good” and “very good.”

…And God saw all that He had made and it was very good. (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, and 31)

Notice that God called it good, not perfect. There is only one perfect, and that is God Himself.

Did you know that one side of your body has a feature that is either slightly larger or smaller than the other side? That as fascinating, intricate, and amazing as the human mind and body are, no one person is totally perfect. Each person has some kind of “flaw” or imbalance, or a feature that is not exact. Have you ever considered that God created you imperfect by design?

Our culture is obsessed with the illusion of “perfect”. If you are caught up in that obsession then it’s pretty difficult to live from a place of grace and gratitude. Why? Because there is not much room for God’s grace in human perfection.

I don’t know all you have experienced, what you are feeling or the internal struggle within your mind, as you read this, and I won’t pretend to know. But there is one aspect that is core to our struggle with self-acceptance and body image, and that is identity. How you see yourself and how you perceive others see you.

When our identity is firmly rooted in Jesus Christ, as a beloved daughter of the King of the Universe, the Author and Creator of Life, then what other people say and what other people think is of little value. We can weigh it against who we know we are, and if it does not line up with that, let it blow away like sand in the wind.

When our own self-identity is strong and secure, then when people say things that are mean, unkind, and untruthful and words that may hurt or sting, we can hold to the truth of what we know about ourselves. To the truth of what the God of the Universe says about us.

If, however, our identity is not rooted in Jesus Christ, and our own self-identity is weak, then we will let what others say – or how they perceive us - define us. That’s a tremendous amount of power to give to someone else. If those words or labels are internalized, incredible harm can result.

God created us, formed and fashioned us to bear His image. More important than our outward appearance, is who we are as a person. Psalm 139 paints a beautiful picture of God’s love for you and His presence surrounding every aspect of your life.

O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!

I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave,[a] you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night— but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!

Psalm 139:1-18 (NLT)

Who we are matters to God a great deal. And while we are created in His image, and we are the temple in which His Spirit dwells, that image is not exclusive to our outward appearance. It is also about the heart.

{my graphics are inspirational gifts for you}

When I was 13, I thought I was "fat". People in my family would comment, “Oh, you’ve gained weight!” or “You’re getting fat.” or “Suck your tummy in, you look fat.” As if my appearance - not who I was as a person - was the most important thing about me. I had food allergies from childhood, which affected my belly, but allergy testing was not as common a practice as it is now. So when I looked in the mirror, I saw myself as “fat.” To my own detriment, I internalized those messages, not considering that they were only someone else’s opinion of me. I gave more validity to their opinion than I did my own. Looking at the models and ads in fashion magazines only fed that sense of shame and lies that I was not good enough as God created me.

I had a very negative body image and struggled with a sense of shame. Part of that shame – I realized years later sitting in a therapist's office – was due to childhood sexual abuse by someone whose care I was entrusted to, and my parents had no idea. While it’s uncomfortable for me to share it, it is also part of my story. A story of God’s golden thread of redeeming love woven throughout.

Below is a picture of me at 13. Do I look fat or overweight? No! I remember coming across this picture in my twenties and thinking, “How could I think I was fat? I was trim and healthy!” There is a difference between perception and reality. In reality, I was healthy and the perfect weight for my developing, growing, teenage body. My perception at the time was very different. And very damaging to my identity. Have you ever thought you appeared a certain way, only to look back and realize your perception was distorted, like those mirrors in a fun house?

In this picture I was age 13 at a lake in Michigan.

In this picture I was age 16 at a Cheerleading Camp in Portland, Oregon.

I still saw myself as being not thin enough and felt very self-conscious in shorts.

I have been athletic and active my entire life. As such, I have an athletic build and strong muscles. Muscle weighs more than fat, so according the “ideal” height and weight charts, I have always been “too heavy.” Unfortunately, I also internalized that message and carried shame for being “too heavy” much of my life. As a result, I’ve tired various diets – none of which worked for long because they were unsustainable, and all of which did more harm than good – in an effort to conform to some ideal image.

I finally chose to make peace with how I am built, accept my body as it is, and stop comparing myself to some unrealistic, fake, airbrushed illusion that is ever before our eyes and held as “ideal” in our culture. Cultural ideals for bodies are constantly changing. There was a time when rounded, heavyset women were considered more beautiful and desirable than thin, unshapely women. My point is, what I think of my own body matters more than what others think, or what our culture pushes off as “ideal.”

I finally realized that conformity is cowardly. What takes courage is to be who I am. It takes far more courage and grit to be who I am created to be than it does to conform.

I would humbly submit to you - that if you feel shame about your body, if you have habits that are destructive and harmful instead of nourishing and healthy, and if you say things to yourself about yourself that you would never say to someone you loved - that you have acquiesced your identity and personal power to others to define.

There is another way, my friend. To be secure in your own identity and value because you accept as truth what God says about you being His beloved child. To take back your power instead of giving it to strangers. You have the power and the choice to disagree with the unkind and untruthful things others have said. You have the option to stop feeding your eyes and your mind with images in magazines, on social and visual media, and other forms of entertainment that leave you feeling less than or degraded.

Here is a truth that will serve you well: What other people say and do is a reflection of them. It’s about them. Not you. What you say and do is a reflection of you.” If you can stand firm in your own power and worth and separate yourself from what other people say and think, you will be unstoppable in what you can achieve.

It is not so much about what happens to us in life, but how we choose to respond. The power of choice in what we think and how we respond is something no one can take away. Our thoughts determine how we feel. Our feelings affect our actions. Our actions become our habits. Our habits form our character. Paul says in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by renewing your mind.” If you change your thinking you can change our life.

What would it look like to exchange your “not enough” for Jesus Christ’s enough? He says, “My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made strong in your weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

There is only one who is sufficient enough. His name is El Shaddai (Hebrew) meaning All Sufficient One. If one of God’s names is El Shaddai, then no one else - and nothing else - will ever be “all sufficient” or “enough” for me. Or for you.

"Words kill, words give life; they're either poison or fruit - you choose." Proverbs 18:21 (Message)

It is my fervent prayer that the words I have written will speak healing and life into your mind and heart. Daughter of the King, you are precious and dearly loved.

If you were encouraged by this blog, would you share it with a friend?

Editor's Note:

This blog is by Freedom to Flourish Life Coaching Founder and Christian Life Coach, Jen Stone-Sexton. She is currently accepting new clients. You can learn more about Jen here.

Would you like to live an empowered life of freedom? Freedom from fear, insecurity, and lies about your identity? I would love to come alongside you to offer that support. To learn more, you can schedule HERE for a no-obligation online Discovery Session.

Jennifer C. Stone-Sexton © 2023 Freedom to Flourish, LLC

All graphics created by Jennifer C. Stone-Sexton © 2023 Freedom to Flourish, LLC

All Rights Reserved.


Photo Credits:

Personal Photos of Jennifer C. Stone-Sexton property of author. All rights reserved.

Scripture Quotation Credits:

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved.

New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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