I spend a lot of time talking with my friends and family about the futility in pursuing a thinner body. Most of them recognize this fact, but the biggest struggle is not admitting truth but in living it out.
Even though many of us agree wholeheartedly that there’s more to life than achieving the “perfect body,” we still sometimes struggle to put that belief into practice. In other words, we know it’s true, but we don’t feel it in our hearts.
The key to living out this truth isn’t just calling bad things bad, it’s also calling good things good: focusing on what we’re for rather than what we’re against.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”Philippians 4:8, NIV
Focusing on our individual strengths can sometimes feel like an almost kindergarten-esque exercise. But regardless of how fuzzy and fluffy it might feel, the notion that God created each of us individually with power and glory is true. Focusing on these good, honorable, worthy parts of ourselves is sometimes scoffed at, sure, but it’s also part of our calling to meditate on those things that are right, pure, lovely, and admirable. It’s also part of our calling to embrace our unique gifts and use them to glorify God.
Focus on the good things about yourselves and use them for a bigger purpose.
Back in my eating disorder days, the “parts of myself I liked” would have included specific parts of my body that I wasn’t loathing at the moment. Today, I’m no longer as focused on my appearance, and I’m grateful that there are things I can appreciate about who I am that aren’t dependent on the fleeting nature of my body.
For me, I appreciate the fact that I’m passionate. I have a fiery personality, and this drives me to act on my inspirations. Sometimes doing so gets me into trouble, but other times I can see the fruit of it. Knowing that I take action on my ideas, pursue my convictions, and strive to live out my purpose makes me feel productive — like I’m not wasting my life. I like that about myself.
I love this picture because it represents the sense drive and determination that fuels my life: I’m walking towards what’s ahead. This was taken when I was on a mission trip in Nicaragua for medical outreach. I was only in my second year of medical school at the time so I wasn’t that much help in terms of actually being able to diagnose and treat people, but it was an awesome learning experience and I was able to share my faith with so many others.
This mission trip wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t put the pedal to the metal and finished college, learned Spanish, endured the grueling process of med school applications, enrolled in my program, and signed up for the trip. While I absolutely recognize that the driving force behind all of that was 100% God, I’m proud of myself for having the courage to submit to His will for my life. Taking steps of faith can be scary, and I’ve had my fair share of moments of absolute terror about what I’d gotten myself into. But it has all been so good. To God be the glory.
Admitting the things I appreciate about myself is vulnerable, as I know it will be for you, too. But most things that are worthwhile in life require vulnerability and risk, but there’s purpose in them. So, my challenge for you today is this: Write down one thing you appreciate about yourself that has nothing to do with the size and shape of your body (or, better yet, leave a comment below, so we can be encouraged by them, too!)