Jenny is a wonderful friend and strong follower of Christ. She shares how her sexual identity was impacted by a seemingly minor situation that occurred during her adolescence. This “hang-up” around body image followed her throughout college. To start at the beginning of her story, click Part 1. Here is Jenny in her own words.
My personal identity was wrapped around the idea that body image equals self-worth. For the first 3.5 years of college, I struggled alone and experienced tremendous anxiety around food and weight. Due to the grace of God, I did not ever become anorexic or bulimic. This was tempting, but I knew that trying it once would open the door for it to happen again and again.
I tried to exercise and eat right but I could never satisfy my ideal standard. I needed a breakthrough in my life, but I was not capable of achieving this on my own. Romans 8 offered me an important insight: “For those who live according to the flesh set their mind on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit set their minds on the things of the spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death but to set the mind on the spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:5-8).
My thought life had become shallow, falling well short of pleasing God. In an act of repentance, I went before my Christian community at school and shared my struggle. It was my way of asking for help. One of the girls who heard my story said, “Jenny, you need to meet my mom.” I had known that her mother did faith-based weight-loss counseling, but I had always been too prideful to get help. I thought that people who needed counseling were weak or had really big problems… and I wasn’t either of those things, right?
Recognizing the depth of my struggle and realizing that I had achieved little-to-no progress on my own, I accepted her offer. This wonderful mentor and spiritual mother has been an incredible blessing – providing me with counsel, encouragement, support, and the outside perspective that I desperately needed. What I have learned from her is that we grow to believe lies about ourselves. Seeds of untruths are planted and we listen to them. The Holy Spirit – living inside us – can help us to recognize these lies. My counselor taught me to identify the lies that I was listening to and to write them down. Then I was to search the scriptures to find what it says to debunk those lies and replace them with truth.
Here is what it looks like for my struggle:
Lie: Worth is attached to the way I look. Skinny people are of more worth because they can keep their weight under control.
Truth: My worth is found in things that I cannot see, and that I did not earn. I was bought at a price and am highly precious to my Father. I am His workmanship, created in Jesus for good work. (Proverbs 31:30) (1 Peter 3:1-4) (Ephesians 2:1-10) (1 John 3:19)
I absolutely love the 1 John passage because it says, “By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before Him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.” It says that my opinion of myself is not as important as God’s opinion… and He loves us.
Join me tomorrow on Lead Them Home as Jenny finishes up her powerful story.
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