Learning to Be Content in Your Body

“I’ll be happy when I’m thin.”

Have you ever felt that way? I know I have.

I used to feel like my whole life was on hold because I didn’t look the way I wished I looked. All around me, I saw thin and beautiful women, and it seemed like they were living their lives with fun and freedom. They could wear what they wanted, eat what they wanted, do what they wanted, and somehow never gain weight.

And it seemed like everybody loved them.

But that’s really just what it seemed like. I’m sure, like anyone else, they struggled with self-acceptance, relationships, and the pressures of modern life. Many of them probably struggled with disordered eating, which is something that can affect anybody of any body type. Nobody’s life is perfect, even if it looks like it is.

Something that’s been on my mind a lot lately is the concept of contentment. I shared last week that COVID really overhauled a lot of my plans this past summer, and it became abundantly clear to me during that time how much I still idolize (the illusion of) control. I felt like everything that was happening was out of my hands because, well it was, and that was extremely difficult for me to cope with. While I’d previously thought I was doing a pretty good job of living with contentment amid my circumstances, it became abundantly clear that that feeling of contentment was actually dependent on my circumstances. I was content because life was going well. When it stopped going well, I freaked out.

I’m grateful for what I learned about myself throughout the insanity of COVID and quarantine life. While I preferred, like anyone, for life to flow smoothly, the trials and challenges this summer brought highlighted an important area of my life that needed work.

In the book of Philippians, Paul shares that he is able to be content no matter what happens around him. At the time of this writing, he was actually in prison!

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 

Philippians 4:11-12

“In any and every situation”

In writing this, he compels us to follow suit—to surrender our earthly idols so that we can find contentment and peace despite our circumstances. It should be a goal of ours to, like Paul, cultivate contentment in times of need and in times of plenty—in any and every situation.

That’s a big statement. Finding contentment in any and every situation means even in job loss, even through financial disaster, even in death of a loved one, even when plans fail and life feels out-of-control…circumstances faced by many of us throughout the COVID pandemic.

But it also means contentment in any and every body type.

Yes, the precedent set in the bible is that we should strive to be content even if the number on the scale or on the tag of our pants isn’t as low as we’d like it to be. Can you truly say that you are able to be content both if you gain weight or if you lose weight? If your body fat percentage is high or if it is low? If you like how you look in pictures, and if you don’t?

Honestly, I don’t really know if I can say that. I most certainly can’t say that I’ve learned the secret of contentment in all circumstances, as evidenced by the way COVID derailed me. And I don’t know if I can say it about my body. But I think it’s really important to understand that taking steps toward reaching that place is part of Christ’s call on our lives.

Questions for Reflection:

  • Are there things you avoid doing because of the size/shape of your body?
  • Are you holding onto old clothes (or new clothes that are too small) in the hopes of being able to fit into them?
  • Do you feel unworthy of participating in certain activities because of the size/shape of your body? (Think: swimming, wearing shorts, participating in a group fitness class)
  • Do you scrutinize your appearance in photos?
  • Do you feel like you are less-than because you don’t like your appearance?
  • Do you put your identity in your appearance?
  • Do you feel that thinness/fitness is a virtue?
  • Does knowing your weight impact your mood? (Whether positively or negatively?)
  • Do you feel ashamed of your pant size or the number on the scale?
  • Do you compare your size/shape to other women around you?
  • What does God think about the size/shape of your body?

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