THE FALL OF MANKIND AND...YOUR BODY IMAGE?
When you think about your body, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
Maybe this is something you’d be excited to answer…because you’d be able to identify exactly what you love about your body. Is it your calves? Maybe you’ve always loved your petite frame (or your tall frame!). Maybe it’s your hair, or maybe your favorite thing about you has nothing to do with your body but rather, your smile, full of joy and authenticity.
But, chances are, you’d have a few things to pick at (“I like my body, but I could really tone up my thighs,” or, “I’d be happier with the way I looked if I could just lose five pounds.”).
Maybe the question alone prompts a visceral response. I’d be lying if I didn’t know what that were like.
At one point in time, if I were to have asked myself this question, I would probably have started crying. Plagued by an eating disorder for most of my college career, my body was my greatest enemy.
No matter what I did, I just couldn’t seem to meet a standard that the world had shaped for me — and that I had, unfortunately, agreed with.
Statistics reveal that 89% of young women 17 and under have tried dieting, 42% of girls in first through third grade would like to lose weight, 51% of girls aged 9–10 say they “feel better about themselves” while dieting...
…and 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat.
I don’t know about you, but I first read these statistics about year ago, and was shocked — and then completely, utterly burdened.
The issue with these statistics is two-fold: The first being that girls that haven’t even hit puberty are concerned about the way others perceive their bodies, and the second is that women — grown, smart, educated, loving, lovable women — are plagued in the very same way.
Body image issues begin in our youngest years — far too early, continue into our adolescence, and then right through adulthood.
Where is this coming from?
I used to believe that it was a horrific phenomenon, perpetuated by social media, magazine distribution (“bikini body in 10 days!” is plastered across every cover starting each spring), and globalization, allowing us to compare ourselves not just to our neighbor but to women around the world.
And, yes, I’d still argue that these don’t help — but I’m coming to understand that the plague of body hatred (especially in girls and women) didn’t start with social media.
It started with the fall of mankind, in the Garden of Eden.
The first book of the Bible, Genesis, tells the story better than I: “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.”
Now, stick with me here, because we’re about to go deep real quick, okay?
Sin — death, destruction, and evil of every kind — entered the world through the deception of Satan, tempting Eve to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
All of mankind fell in a single moment, because Lucifer persuaded Eve to eat something she shouldn’t have eaten. It has been hell’s plan since the very beginning of humanity to destroy the woman through her consumption of food.
And if he came after Eve, he’s after you, too.
Here’s the first thing you need to first know: It is not your fault. Struggling with body image is not because you do not have good enough willpower, or because you aren’t strong or beautiful or smart. It is not because you are not enough.
It’s because Satan hates you with a passion that burns hotter than anything else God has created. He hates your strength, he hates your beauty, he hates your intellect. So, you are his first target.
Satan sits on his throne in hades, scheming to destroy you. And he’s going to try and destroy you — or, if nothing else, deter you from your God-given purposes — by distracting you, feeding you lies about your body until it is all-consuming.
(As I mentioned, this was me — my eating disorder in college consumed all of me. I didn’t go out with friends, I didn’t accept date invitations, I didn’t lift weights. My worth was determined by one thing: my size. And the smaller I got in frame, the smaller shrank my self-worth. It was disgusting, horrific, and nothing short of demonic.)
In the Garden, after eating of the fruit, God curses Adam and Eve: “To the woman He said, ‘I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children’…and to Adam, He said, ‘cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat it all the days of your life.’”
In that moment, we were cursed, and the curse came upon us by consumption.
Now, I know this seems dark. And heavy. And terrifying. But, here’s the second thing you need to know: Jesus died on the cross to restore us wholly and completely, and to send every scheme of Satan back to hell.
We see in the gospel of Matthew that Jesus, on the eve of his crucifixion, restores to us what Satan had snatched by way of taking communion: “Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’”
It is no coincidence that Jesus commands for us to take bread and wine in remembrance of what he had accomplished on the cross. He gave us back consumption — the eating of food — that it would no longer be cursed but that it would be blessed. Food is no longer the way sin enters our world, as Satan had originally intended.
Food, now, is the way that we commune with each other, and commune with God — not only growing in intimacy with Him but actually being physically, emotionally, and spiritually healed from the inside-out. When we take communion, we are actually exchanging our heavy burdens — including physical ailments and emotional disease — for the perfection of Jesus, body and mind.
Alright, so…what does this all mean?
To reiterate, Satan is the reason you feel inadequate, unworthy, and less-than-beautiful. It has nothing to do with what’s true.
And the crucifixion of Jesus is actually, tangibly enough to restore to you a healthy, holy, and loving perception of your body.
Beauty is often associated with superficiality, but this is not at all the case. Beauty has everything to do with heaven and hell. Satan’s inability to fathom and compete with your beauty was the reason he came after Eve in the garden, and why he wants to destroy you in the same way.
There is so much depth in beauty, especially that of a woman — it inspires emotion and invokes response, prompts curiosity and wonder. It comes in the form of a beautiful person, scenery, smile, texture, light.
It can be superficial, of course, when it is filtered and edited and manipulated. But, when something — anything! — is in its raw and natural form, it is beautiful. Because, it’s God’s.
You, woman, are beautiful beyond comprehension, because you are God’s. Imagine the defeat hell will face when you grasp it.
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