Have you ever heard of an ear-worm? An ear-worm (or a brain worm) is when a song is stuck in your head and you can’t get rid of it. This could be an entire song or part of a song that continues to repeat over and over. Like “Baby Shark”.
Anyways, the only way to really get rid of an ear-worm is by replacing it with a different song or preoccupy your mind with different thoughts by watching a movie, completing a puzzle, or chatting with a friend.
Can We Just Talk?
I bring this up because I think all of us have a song that we sing over ourselves that we can’t seem to replace. The ear-worm I have goes something like this: “Brooke, you are too much. Your personality is abrasive. You’re too loud. You don’t know how to relax. You overwhelm people. You are overbearing. You obsess over what people think. You rub people the wrong way. You will never get what you desire with the personality you have. You are intimidating. You are the reason things go wrong in relationships.”
Yikes! Sounds so harsh. By the way, I would NEVER say these comments about anyone else, but for some reason this is the record that plays in my head the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep at night. This song starts off loud in the morning… then when my day is full of work and distractions, it grows faint, but it is still there. Kind of like when you’re shopping and the store has faint background music you can quietly hum to. The more I sing the song over myself, the more familiar I am with it. To be honest it sucks.
Side note, whenever I have a legit song stuck in my head, I
often sing it out loud or tell the nearest person “You know what song is stuck
in my head”? Then I tell them.
The song we sing in our heads about ourselves follows this
notion as well. I pretty much announce my insecurities and almost beg people to
agree with them… ☹
Maybe it is just me, but when I believe lies about myself, I
let that influence my relationships and how I interact with people. I preface
most texts and conversations with, “if not no worries” or “you can say no”
because I am afraid that my presence is too much. I would rather reject
myself first than have someone else do it and validate my insecurities. WHY??? Why do I give people permission to perpetuate the lies that Christ
worked so hard on the cross to replace?
No matter how many times someone reminds me that I am a
child of God or I am who He says I am… I struggle. And then when people tell me
to ask Him who He says that I am, I wonder if He has a unique name or song for
I wish there was a step by step process on how to rid yourself of the explicit content in your head that permits you to believe lies about yourself. I think one way we can combat these lies about ourselves is by focusing on what is ahead instead of letting the past define us.
The Lyrics in the Letter
In the letter to the church at Philippi, written by a guy named Paul around 60-62 AD, reminds us what we should be filling our minds with.
“My goal is to know Him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from
among the dead. Not that I have already reached the goal or am already
perfect, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have
been taken hold of by Christ Jesus… Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize
promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Therefore, let all
of us who are mature think this way. And if you think differently
about anything, God will reveal this also to you. In any case, we should
live up to whatever truth we have attained”
This passage is found in Philippians 3:10-16, right before
the famous passages of not being anxious about anything (Phil. 4:6-7).
When I read the passage above, I do not initially think of my ear-worm problem. But when I circle back to how songs are introduced into our thoughts; I reconsider how I read this passage. My self-deprecating thoughts that I replay in my head do not reflect that I have been taken hold of by Christ (vs. 12). They reflect that I have been taken hold of by my fears, past rejections, recent failures, and misconceptions of the realities in my life. I am challenged to forget the song I have been replaying in my head and replace it with the goal of Christ’s call on my life.
I love verse 15 as well, “Let all of us who are mature think this way”. This maturity is not due to age, it is due to a mindset. In order to be mature and whole in our thinking, we must forget what is behind us and reach for what is ahead. What is ahead? Christ ruling and reigning on this earth in fellowship with His people. In the meantime, God will reveal to us the thoughts He has towards us and His call on our life (vs. 15). While we wait for Him to reveal more of Himself to us, we should overwhelm our lives with the truth He has already shown us (vs.16).
A New Song
It’s a process my friends, but in order to stamp out the
explicit lyrics that we sing over ourselves, we must replace it with a new
song. In the same letter, Paul closes out with this challenge:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true,
whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any
moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy, think (dwell) on these things.” (Phil. 4:8)
“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1
“Listen to me, O coastlands, and give attention, you peoples from afar. The Lord called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name.” Isaiah 49:1
Let’s replace the songs in our heads with a new song. We can start by replaying these.
I shared some thoughts on my Instagram story last night in regards to pride that I would like to elaborate further on. Here is what was shared in case you missed it.
” Something I’ve been challenged by lately is my pride…
Pride by definition: a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired
The larger my pride is, the less I rely on Christ.
Seems simple and plain enough right? Pride is an open door which grants permission for the enemy to come in and keep us in bondage…
Pride comes in all forms, false humility, insecurities, fear of rejection, thinking you’re the best in one area of life to compensate for where you lack in another, situational frustration, and comparison…. (I struggle daily with all of these and more)
When I feel insecure or frustrated or compare myself… these are all symptoms of pride.
Being insecure is a form of pride by wanting to be and look the best
Frustration is a form of pride when things don’t go my way
Comparison is a form of pride by wanting to be/do better than someone else
All forms of pride keep us from fearing the Lord and trusting in Him to provide the ultimate best for us. If we fear the Lord and His presence, recognize that we are all weak and hurting, then and only then can we experience true freedom in Christ and what He did for us.”
Sit Down. Be HUMBLE.
To take it a step further, let’s take a look at Luke 14:8-11. Jesus tells a parable (an allegory told to illustrate a spiritual lesson) at a leading Pharisee’s (strict observers of Jewish laws) house.
To summarize Jesus’s parable, He sets the scene describing a wedding banquet where the host invites you and a more distinguished guest. Let’s say you were invited to the Royal Wedding but so was Oprah… Jesus continues the story by instructing us not to sit in the best seat at the banquet because someone may come along and ask you to get up and give your seat to the guest of honor… “and then in humiliation, you will proceed to take the lowest place” (vs.9).
Instead “when you are invited, go and recline in the lowest place, so that when the one who invited you comes, he will say to you ‘Friend, move up higher’ You will then be honored in the presence of all the other guests” (vs.10).
It’s challenging to me that when I intend to honor myself and sit where I want in life, I end up humiliated and embarrassed. But Jesus, who was the ultimate example of humility, inspires me to do the same. Self exaltation is so easy to do when you feel like you have a right to something. But in this story both people were guests… they were both invited. We are all invited into what God has called us into, our biggest battle within is where we think we should be sitting… We look at those around us and compare our seat to theirs. We are aggravated with situations not going our way because we think it will interfere with the goodness allotted to us in this life. We puff ourselves up internally so we feel better about ourselves. But it’s important to remember that God is the one who exalts…
He is our host. He is the one who invited us to His banquet. Wouldn’t you rather be sitting in the back of the wedding eagerly waiting to catch a glimpse of the action and have the host of the big event come grab you by the hand, in front of everyone, and move you to the front? So many times I miss this. I park my happy behind in what I think is the front, just waiting for God to do something big… what is there to do when you’re in the best seat of the house? Besides be moved to the back. Jesus finishes the story with “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (vs.11)
When you place yourself in the best seat of the house, the less you rely on Christ to come through for you. Pride keeps us in bondage because it doesn’t give room for Christ to come in and change the narrative for us. My pride manifests differently each day, but my hope is that I will seek out the back of the room because that’s where Jesus sits… and where He is healing, fellowship, and holiness reside.
A blurb from my journal entry on April 22, 2018… a year ago
“Well, it’s Sunday night, and it’s my last Sunday here in
this apartment in Gainesville, and I am extremely sad about it. For the past two
weeks I wore a sling for my shoulder, I finished The Purpose Project (releasing
tomorrow), and I graduate in 2 weeks from today. I am in such a limbo state,
super busy but shut down. I’m confused, yet content. I am nervous Lord…. Help
me to place my complete trust in You. My future is approaching quickly, but I
know You are already there ready to embrace me. Thank you for your goodness.”
Why do I share this? Because I have been reflecting today on God’s faithfulness, favor, and grace. Part of it is because Easter was yesterday, but mostly I’ve been reminiscing on where I was mentally, spiritually, and emotionally last year. I was so panicked and nervous… My senior project was due, and I wanted it to be perfect. Looking back, it seems so crazy that I was so worried about it. Isn’t it funny that the things we were worried about a year ago don’t really affect us the same way today? Heck even the things we were worried about a week ago have been replaced with today’s worries!
Many of you already know the story, but what you don’t know
is where I am at now with the Purpose Project. You see, when you are working on
something creatively like a book, film, painting, or even a blog it’s easy to
think that you are only producing something for an audience.
I watched the Purpose Project again today. Honestly, I haven’t
watched it in forever. I forgot I even did it with how busy I’ve been with chasing
the next thing. What I have found on the flip side of the Purpose Project is my
own personal need for this piece.
A lot has changed since last year… my circles, my city, my home, my desires, my fears, my hurt, and my perspective have changed. Maybe you feel the same way. Maybe you were in a relationship this time last year, maybe you were pregnant last year, maybe you were working a different job, maybe a loved one was here on earth this time last year… seasons change, circles change, circumstances change, valleys change, and people change… but Purpose doesn’t.
I think that is what brings me to tears when I reflect. I had no idea that what I was producing with The Purpose Project was for me. Not in a vain way, but in a unique way. The Lord knew I was about to enter a season of massive change and confusion. The stage of life where nothing seems to make sense, the stage of life where your dreams seem crazy and far off, the stage of life that is far from the infrastructure of a system.
I want to challenge you to take a moment and reflect on your circumstances from this time last year. Or even further back to a few years ago. Think of the suffering you endured that produced strength, think of the growth you’ve incurred, think of the evidence of God’s faithfulness… and then trust Him to do it again…
Without recapping the Purpose Project too much, I just want to
encourage you that your purpose hasn’t changed. Whether you are in a valley, on
cloud nine, graduating soon, getting married soon, going through a divorce, in
a season of loneliness, in a season where you feel like you need to clean up
your act, or in a season of pure joy… your purpose in life has not changed and neither
has your hope.
I am no longer a student at UF, no longer working at a restaurant, no longer worried about my senior project, and no longer in a sling for my shoulder surgery. Seems silly to point out, but I just want to encourage you that life and its circumstances do not dictate who you are and what you are called to do.This is more of a challenge to step into a season of pursuit, a season of joy, as you watch God declare victory over your life.
I wish I could go back and hug the Brookie in April 2018 and tell her that everything is going to be okay and that God is going to provide a new circle of amazing friends, a great new job, and unleash favor on her dreams. But more than anything, I hope that my vulnerable display of reflection entices you to look back on God’s faithfulness and use it as an anchor for hope. He doesn’t change and He hasn’t forgotten about you… no matter how messy your life seems to be right now.
At first when I am asked this question, my knee-jerk reaction is to say, “Well no one is actually ‘good’ we are all broken”. I do believe we are all inherently broken and no one is good and need a Savior. However, I have friends Christian and Non-Christian, young and old, who have endured some pretty-ugly and messy situations and that answer has never sufficed. Which it doesn’t, but what does bring peace is diving into the nature of God and how He interacts with broken people.
As always, I am not a licensed professional… but as I pursue God’s heart and character I want to take you with me as we unravel some truth.
We are going to dive into one of my favorite books of the Bible, Acts. This book is full of history, and I am a history nerd! This book was written by Luke, a physician and traveling companion of a popular guy named Paul. Acts covers events that occurred right after the death of Jesus in 33 AD and concluded around 62 AD. Now that you know where we are at in history, let’s get to the juice…
THE GOOD GUYS:
I am going to paraphrase this story to avoid copying and pasting a block of Scripture you prolly will glance over. This story can be found in Acts 16:16-40.
Paul and Silas were on their way to pray (“good thing”) and they met a slave girl with an unclean spirit which gave her the ability to predict the future. Her masters/owners made a huge profit off her fortune telling. In the streets, she followed Paul and Silas around shouting and annoying them due to the spirit within her. (don’t fall asleep on me yet, this isn’t a blog on demon possession). Paul done turned around and commanded the spirit out of her. He set her free!
Her masters realized they wouldn’t be able to make money off her anymore- because her ability was gone when the spirit left her lil body. So, the masters were ticked and had Paul and Silas stripped naked, severely flogged in the marketplace, and falsely accused them of promoting customs against Roman law. (sounds a bit like Jesus’ arrest).
To put this in today’s perspective, it’d be like someone rescuing a young girl from sex slavery and giving her protection and new life. She would then be free from the life she was living and her masters would lose a profit. No one would ever look at someone who is rescuing another person in bondage and think that wasn’t a good thing. It is a good thing to help others and offer them hope, right? Now that we can all agree that Paul and Silas were doing good things (I am sorry for overusing the word good… just want you to empathize with these 2 men who were on fire for the Lord but suffered greatly under the hand of men in this world). At some point, I probably would have asked the question “Why me God?”. I am sure you have found yourself asking that question before.
***Maybe instead of saying “good thing” I should refer to them as being obedient to their calling, but I think you are picking up what I am throwing down. Again no one is good or perfect without Jesus… for those of you who think my theology has gone off the deep end. ***
So, we got that, Paul and Silas good guys on their way to pray and saving lives from evil masters and unclean spirits.
After they were flogged, they were thrown into the inner prison and secured with their feet in stocks.
mean to treat you like kindergarteners, but did they deserve to be in
prison? Uhm nay freakin nay they didn’t! These guys can’t seem to catch a
WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH:
I would like to take a moment and allow you to think of something bad that has happened to you. A time where it seemed you were being punished for no apparent reason.
What do you do when something bad happens to you? Well for me, I obsess about it. I complain, grow fearful, or pridefully prop myself up arguing that I don’t deserve this. When life gets hard, I also think it is important to recognize the time of day we typically start to grow anxious/weary about our situations.
For me, when I wake up to workout, go to the beach, spend time with friends, or go to work, my mind is preoccupied and gives me less time to dwell. It’s normally at night in isolation when I begin to worry or feel hopeless. Let’s continue the story…
SOMETHING GOOD HAPPENS AFTER MIDNIGHT:
While in prison, Paul and Silas were praising God with songs and prayer at midnight. The other prisoners heard this. Paul and Silas were among people who deserved to be in prison. They would’ve never been in that circle of people if it weren’t for a reason. Suddenly, at midnight during the singing and praying, a violent earthquake shook the foundations of the jail and the doors of the prison flung open and everyone’s chains came loose. Whoa! (Acts 16:26)
When the jailer woke up, he was going to kill himself because if the prisoner’s escaped he would face a worse death than suicide. Paul stopped him from the attempted suicide and the guard fell asking Paul and Silas what he must do to be saved. What a turn of events. The man who had oppressed Paul and Silas was now the man asking for grace and mercy. Funny how God often flips the script following a miracle. The jailer and his family were saved that same night and that same hour the jailer washed Silas and Paul’s wounds, set a meal before them, and rejoiced with them…
LANDING THE PLANE:
Sometimes there is no explanation for brokenness. God isn’t picking on
you nor has he forgotten about you. If the story would have stopped at
the flogging and inner prison, we would be discouraged and could
potentially assume God forgot about them. But the story didn’t stop
there and neither does yours.
2. We can note that Paul and Silas praised the Lord in the middle of their bondage. I know you may be in a place where you feel like you are in bondage. Cancer, depression, heartbreak, addiction, death have all touched down at some point in our lives. These things have a way of making us feel like we will be in captivity forever. But The Lord, my dear friend is at work.
3. I want to encourage you to sing praises to Him even when it is hard… when you think God has gone silent. Even when you don’t anticipate chains breaking. Paul was the same guy who wrote the book of Romans, which is ironic because Rome was the empire that kept him in chains for no reason. You all know the popular verse, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28). A lot of times, this verse is taken out of context in our minds. We think that good is a better circumstance or lack of bad things.But we can see that God isn’t just about simple rescues from bad circumstances, He is working on multiple levels.
In this story, the person or situation keeping Paul and Silas in bondage ended up being the same person who fed, hosted, and washed their wounds. Through God’s crazy rescue via an earthquake (violent shaking of the Earth caused by sudden movement of rock beneath its surface) to loosen the chains of prisoners, He changed the ending of their story.
There is another earthquake mentioned in the Bible that changes the ending of your story. After the death of Jesus, there was an earthquake when he gave up His spirit on the cross.
“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split, and the tombs broke open… When the Roman guard and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, ‘Surely he was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:50-54)
That earthquake represents the separation between us and God is over. We have been reconciled to Him and His love for us breaks chains.
Your situation has no grip over you. It doesn’t define you. You have been set free.
We are in the age of life where we are watching all things come together to work for good. The kingdom is at hand and you have a place in it. You have a seat at the table. The situations that have held you in bondage are being reversed ever since the earth quaked. The script has been flipped. God did not grant you a one-time quick fix that only benefits you, rather a solution that benefits more and brings them to Him. Don’t lose hope. He hasn’t forgotten about you. He commands nature and breaks chains.
Since I have been a Christian my whole life, it’s been my life’s commission to “spread the Gospel”. I want to apologize upfront for my brutal honesty and explicit thoughts on sharing the Gospel. I always like to remind my readers that I am not a pastor, counselor, doctor, or teacher. I am an inquisitive soul and I process things by talking about them and more specifically writing my thoughts down. So here I go…
I’m finna take it back to my restaurant days because I learned so much while I was in the service industry. Every night as a waitress, we would have contests on selling certain items on the menu. This idea of in-house contests to incentivize sales is not limited to just a restaurant. Employees in a department store may have a contest to sell the most Michael Kors shoes, and if the employee wins the sales that day they could maybe pick their schedule for the next month (not to brag, I would prolly win the MK contest). I digress.
At my job I was never able to really win those contests because I didn’t really enjoy what I was selling. If I was told to sell the big ticket Porterhouse T-Bone, I almost never could do it because I had never had one before. I was unable to relate to my guests how good the steak was because I was just trying to sell it based off of other people’s opinions or because it was my duty. Thus in return, I seemed disingenuous in my motives because I was just trying to make my boss happy not the patron. When it came to selling a Dallas Filet, well I had that in the bag… Why? Because that is my absolute favorite steak. I was able to tell my guests how much I enjoyed this steak because I had ordered it, enjoyed it, and experienced it myself. It wasn’t a job or chore for me to sell what I liked. It was easy because I would build relationships with my tables, ask them what they liked, and recommended my favorite item on the menu. My mind switched gears from trying to win a “back of the house” bingo game for selling the most steaks, to offering my guests something that would change their order for good. My recommendation was based off my experience and my interest in changing my customer’s experience.
Another thing, you don’t have to work at your favorite restaurant for you to tell people how good the establishment is. Your enjoyment of their food, service, and experience will naturally incline you to tell people about it. In return, your friends and family will go give it a try and see for themselves. That’s the same with anything in life. If you enjoy the gym, people will see the evidence in your physique, your conversations, and your overall health. If you like a Netflix series, you will most likely suggest it to someone. Enjoyment breeds conversations, and conversations lead to conversions.
I don’t want to sound cheap with using the word “sell” when it comes to the Gospel. But for the longest time I have been trying to sell the Gospel to people because it was my duty as a Christian. If I fulfilled this duty, I would reap the reward for answering God’s call on my life. My thoughts have been going cray on this subject because I am guilty of not really enjoying the Gospel and the freedom it brings. When you work in ministry, you can’t help but feel like you are a “Professional Christian” and you “have a job to do”. Please don’t mistake me, I DO think sharing the Gospel is the biggest, greatest, and ONLY call on a believer’s life. However, my perspective on this matter is growing. As believers who are called to serve others and share the good news, we need to make sure we are taking extreme measures to enjoy the Gospel in our own lives. Nothing is more tiring than trying to convince someone of something that you yourself aren’t even convinced of. Kind of like in a relationship, if you have to convince someone of your worth, well you prolly don’t value yourself. Or if you have to convince others that who you’re dating is a good boyfriend/girlfriend, then odds are their character can’t speak for itself. There is beauty in pure enjoyment. It draws people in.
The Gospel can stand on its own and change anyone, so let it transform you first. I am talking to you… yeah you, the one who has been a Christian their whole life. The one who drifted from Jesus and is back but still confused. The one who hears the Word every day. The one who teaches the Word every day.
Let’s take a look at Mark 1:29-34…
Jesus Heals Many
As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to
the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a
fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. 31 So he went to her,
took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to
32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.”
There is so much to unpack in this passage, but I will just highlight a few things.
My ears perk up when I see Jesus in action because that is what the Gospel, my life, and everyone’s life should be centered on. Call me if you wanna chat more about this because I could for hours!!
1. We notice that Jesus was on His way back from the synagogue where He was teaching. Since Jesus was a Jewish Rabbi, one could argue He was on His way home from “work” with His friends. If you work in ministry you know that a lot of lives change inside your ministry, but could prolly agree that a lot more lives change outside the 4 walls you congregate in.
2. He enters the house of one of His closest disciples along with the rest of His inner circle. They tell Jesus of Simon Peter’s sick mother-in-law and He goes to her, grabs her hand, and heals her. As a response to her healing, the woman begins to serve them. Wow. That stops me in my tracks immediately. Why? Because she was sick when Jesus came, was healed by His touch, then began to serve. Her service was a response to being transformed and healed. I get this backwards in my life. I tend to serve, focus on deeds, and minister without actually being healed myself.
3. I think it’s also safe to say that this woman had already known of Jesus. After all, He was best friends with her son in law. But knowing about Jesus and His works wasn’t enough to heal her… she had to experience His healing and His touch. Then she was able to be transformed. My fellow friends, it isn’t enough to just know Jesus and His Gospel, you must experience it. Let it in. Let it heal. Let it creep into the ugly. Let it seep into the porn addiction, the suicidal thoughts, the shame of your past, the self-doubt, the obsessive behavior, the broken marriage, and the fear of being alone.
4. Later that evening people caught word of Jesus healing in Capernaum and the whole town gathered at the door. I can’t help but cry when I envision this scene. I am picturing a small hut with a fragile door frame and people just craving to be near Jesus. All because they heard He was a healer. Not because Simon’s mother-in-law gave a great devo and recollection of her son-in-law’s time with Jesus. It was His healing, the Good News of His existence, and His power that brought people to the door.
5. Lastly, He healed those who came in and sought Him out. He drove out demons. He silenced the demons. What power. I just need to sit in that for a moment. He silenced them because “they knew His name”… I need to hear that. That the demons in my life, the demons in your life, the darkness in your life, the addictions in your life, the fears in your life, the anxiety in your life, the depression in your life, and the loneliness in your life are silenced.
If we all accepted His healing in our lives, daily, and let His name silence the demons in our life then I think people will see the Gospel at work in your life and naturally crave the same healing. When I think of Jesus dying on the cross and raising Himself back up again, I don’t want to think to myself: “well now it’s my turn to make Christ’s work worth it”. I want to think of it as healing for myself, accepting the truth of the Gospel myself, and enjoying this Good News, and as a result people line up at the door for His healing. I am imploring myself, to daily accept His grace*, His mercy* and Good News in my own life, and in return serve others. Not vice versa.
*Grace: getting something we
don’t deserve which is Salvation and Eternal Life. By His grace we are
merited with eternal life even though we did nothing to earn it.
*Mercy: not getting something we do deserve which is Hell and Separation from God. By His mercy we are spared punishment.
Song of the day: “Whole Heart (Hold Me Now)” by Hillsong United
and forgiven Look where my chains are now Death has no hold on me
‘Cause Your grace holds that ground And your grace holds me now”
Warning: this post is about body dysmorphia and orthorexia nervosa
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD): this when you become fixated on an imperfection or obsess over a certain part of your body. It could be a freckle, your legs, your cheeks, your tummy, your nose, or your teeth etc. and it is the only thing you can see when you look in the mirror. This can also disguise itself with the obsession of being skinny. “These obsessive and controlling thoughts can lead you to spend exorbitant amounts of time trying to cover or conceal the flaw, to seek verbal approval of your looks, even though you are not likely to believe what people tell you, to socially withdraw, and to have thoughts of suicide” (Arnold Lieber, MD).
Orthorexia Nervosa: this is the obsession of clean eating and fixation on healthy foods. Some signs of this are feeling shame when eating “bad” food, judging others who do not eat what you eat, and feeling “in control” when you eat the foods you deem healthy. Dr. Christina Gregory adds,
“Severe restriction of types of food consumed. This is due to excessive reductions in the number of foods deemed acceptable to your diet. Many times, individuals suffering from Orthorexia Nervosa limit their food consumption to 10 or less different types of foods.
Avoiding foods due to food allergies that have not been medically diagnosed.
Significant increase in the consumption of probiotics, herbal remedies, and other supplements thought to have healthy effects on the body.”
This may also include under-eating, lying about eating when you haven’t, or obsessing over ingredients.
I want to write an honest post to the girls out there reading this. I want to start off by saying, I still intend to workout, take care of myself, and challenge myself with personal goals. With that said, I want to reshape our mindsets amid getting healthy. The point of this post is to encourage you to embrace the body and face that your Creator gave you.
Have you ever been with your friends enjoying a day in the sunshine in your swimsuits with nothing but the blue ocean to enjoy? Everything is fine until you take off your beach cover ups… (If you are a girl, no matter your body type, you know what comes next.) Instant comparison, insecure comments, side eyes, humble brags, and increased heart rate. Every time I am in a bathing suit, and I am not in the shape I’d like to be in, I grab my belly and proclaim I have a food baby.
When I worked in a restaurant, my jeans would always rip between my inner thighs because I have soccer legs, and people didn’t see it because I wore an apron. There was a time in my life where I only ate smoothies and clean protein to lean out. An acquaintance of mine used to only eat celery and water (yum…)
My last apartment in college had a tanning bed, and I used to lay in it at least 3X a month and got skin cancer… so I am the first to admit that I have tried fixing something I didn’t like. I have always been pale, whereas my sister has beautiful olive skin. Boom comparison. But now I have a big keloid scar on my shoulder as a reminder to not take extreme measures to be like someone else. What even.
Why do I bring this up? Because I am a girl who struggles with both disorders listed above, and the more I research them… the more I am convinced. Perhaps you do too.
The worst of it all: at some time in our life, we have all thought “well, at least I don’t have so and so’s body or (fill in the blank)” in order to make ourselves feel better. What the CRAP type of thinking is that? Now if this is just me, you can stop reading now. But if you identify with this feeling… keep reading.
You see, whether we want to openly admit it or not, we all wish we could change something on our bodies.
Less body hair
Smaller toned arms
No rolls when sitting down (in what world is that possible btw)
And millions more.
Most of us girls would rather deal with all the above in private so that there is a noticeable difference in public. Taking care of these “issues” could include an increase of diuretics/laxatives, tanning beds/spray tans, breast implants, laser hair removal, or over exercising. I am not hating on all these technologies and enhancements; I am just a girl, so I know these are the things we barter with on the reg. This is not to condemn you for considering these options, but to get to the heart of why we feel compelled to take such drastic obsessive steps.
We all know if we get the boob job, laser hair removal, Botox, or spray tan, we will just fixate on something else to change on ourselves. If that weren’t true, we would have all stopped after braces. Let’s all LOL that we thought straight teeth would make us feel prettier.
“Death and Destruction are never satisfied, and neither are human eyes [desires]”. Proverbs 27:20
Plan of Attack:
Most doctors, based on the research I’ve completed, advise counseling or medication for these disorders. I am a little non-conventional and think we can combat these disorders with something a bit more heavenly. Anytime you try to rid yourself of a bad habit or bad thought, you must replace it with a good thought or habit. So, I think the best defense we have is to replace our low self-esteem with life giving truth. Not only do our mindsets need changing, but we must recognize that our bodies are going to change from mortal to immortal.
“The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritualbody. If there is a naturalbody, there is also a spiritual body.” 1 Corinthians 15:43-44
This verse proves that we are an unfinished work and that it’s only natural to crave perfection or completion. I think when we look in the mirror, we try to find what we are lacking because it is natural in our sin to do so. I think when we look at other girls, we spot what we think is “perfect” on them and grow jealous of their perfection. You see, I think we are all on the brink of perfection. Our perspective only allows for us to see everyone else’s seemingly “perfect” lives, complexion, body, face, or hair. But what we don’t see is the pieces of perfection scattered inside of our broken lives, that will one day be completed when the last trumpet sounds. I guess one way of putting it, we all have potential, but we are not complete. Just like an acorn when planted has the potential to grow into an oak tree. Our bodies have been sown natural, but will be raised in power and glory, raised to perfection. We are still under soil, craving light and water. We know what we could be, but this world won’t allow it. We were made for a different world, a perfect one.
But how does that help us now? Therapy seems easier than this line of thinking, am I right?
We must start seeing this world as a fleeting world, the kind where people get breast implant-illness, anorexia, thoughts of suicide, and skin cancer from sun damage. The kind of world where we think other people don’t struggle, so we make irrational comments that bring immense amount of self-doubt and comparison.
We must fix our thoughts DAILY on pursuing the kingdom and its work. Here’s a quick exercise. Next time you are in a swimsuit or bra and underwear, look at yourself, flaws and all, and ask yourself how this body can affect the kingdom today. Instead of scrutinizing yourself for not having a thigh gap and for having noticeable stretch marks, how about asking God how you can be stretched to make other people’s lives feel closer to the kingdom at hand?
Maybe you need a more practical exercise. Put a sheet over your mirrors. Delete your Instagram. Eat a piece of chocolate. Throw your laxatives away. Fix your gaze. The main issue with these disorders, is we neglect the fact that they all stem from the self. We view our lives through selfish ambition, impractical expectations, and self-loathing thoughts. The girl next to you with the “better” body is not to blame for this. It’s the thoughts about yourself and the enemy’s assault on your beauty that hinders you from being free and self confident.
God knew we would need to be delivered from sin and death, but He also knew we needed liberation from our natural and fleeting bodies. It is repeated all throughout Scripture, that the former things will be made new again. It is part of our redemption story. Your desire to look perfect is only natural, but the enemy has distorted the image of perfection. The fruit he tempts you with might not be a fruit at all, but maybe he taunts you with an idea of false perfection. The kind you get from starving yourself, instead of the kind that makes you more in the image of Christ.
If you are a believer, you will receive a new body. A perfect one. The one you have been craving here on earth; the one you thought your friend had only to find out you had it all along just incomplete. The body you were meant to have. Stop bullying yourself, you have plenty of people in your circle who will do that for you. Instead, armor up, speak life, and accept the fact that your body won’t be perfect until the last trumpet sounds.
“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—
in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’
‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
1 Corinthians 15:51-58
*as always, I am not a licensed professional, nor do I pretend to know the ins and outs of your struggles, only my own. I am just self-medicating and giving you access to my deep thoughts.