Rags To Riches: Grace That Fills The Gap
This morning features Elsie’s moving story of how the Lord gently comes alongside us in our struggles, using our areas of grey for His strength. He is not distant, and His grace is so sufficient for us. I pray that this post can be of some encouragement to many! N x
FOR THOSE WHO ARE MORE PRECIOUS THAN THEY KNOW:
The topic of body image is all over the media, Have you ever noticed how contradictory the world can be? On one hand, you have the message of a magazine ad, a billboard, and the television: to be happy is to be pretty and to be pretty is to be thin.
And then you have the reactionary message: don’t listen to them! Don’t try to be so skinny! Fight the culture! This one can come from family and friends in the form of comments or understated attitudes.
And then we have the third message: accept your body as it is, no matter what it looks like. All bodies, even overweight or rail-thin ones, are beautiful. I hear this voice from those who I look up to and respect.
I am 21 now, and throughout my growing years, I listened to each of these messages in turn, letting them drag me along, changing hands and each time thinking that one would promise happiness.
I first listened to the gospel of thinness. Believing that thinness equated to beauty, and beauty equated to happiness, I willingly subjected myself to food restriction, obsessive working out, and continual body comparison. This allowed me to still feel good about, and maintain the accomplishment of my unhealthy thinness. I prided myself on being thinner than somebody.
It was when my doctor sent me to a nutritionist that I began to hear the second voice. But this one made me feel just as bad; what about all my hard work? Now my doctors were telling me that I needed to throw my prized thinness away, and totally abandon my values.
It wasn’t long before I turned to the third voice to help balance this out. Every time I saw the Instagram posts and selfies and even billboards that cried out “every body is beautiful!” and showed women of all sizes, I positively agreed.
Of course, I thought that this was all natural. Other people may be able to eat whatever they want and not exercise, but not me. No, I required self- control and discipline to maintain my fitness. The constant comparison between myself, and the women around me continually built me up and broke me down again, sometimes in the same day.
This whole time, I was a Christian, trying so hard to love and serve God, that once I acknowledged this side of myself I couldn’t bear it. I hated it.
When I went to church and worshipped, the guilt began to creep into my heart. When I opened my Bible for quiet times and found myself meticulously planning the meals I was going to eat that day, I felt disgusted. Why couldn’t I fix this problem in my life? The guilt began to erode my relationship with God. I opened my Bible less frequently and worshipped with less and less joy.
It was after my freshman year of college, back at home prior to a mission trip, that I read this passage in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians:
“IN ORDER TO KEEP ME FROM BECOMING CONCEITED, I WAS GIVEN A THORN IN MY FLESH, A MESSENGER OF SATAN, TO TORMENT ME. THREE TIMES I PLEADED WITH THE LORD TO TAKE IT AWAY FROM ME. BUT HE SAID TO ME, ‘MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR YOU, FOR MY POWER IS MADE PERFECT IN WEAKNESS.’” (2 CORINTHIANS 12:9)
God’s love hit me. I had been struggling to fix myself, determined to dig this root out of me. I continually fell back with my hands cut, dirty, and sweaty.
But God had said to me that His grace was sufficient for me. He told me that His power was made perfect in weakness. In weakness, not in spite of it.
The world says that we need to try really hard to feel good about our bodies because that’s where we’ll get our value. But even if you are satisfied with your body, you have missed the mark. God values me for who I am apart from my body. No matter what, God values you for who you are most deeply. You are worth a very high price.
“YOU ARE NOT YOUR OWN; YOU WERE BOUGHT AT A PRICE. THEREFORE, HONOUR
Elsie studies at college in Los Angeles, writes in journals and on her blog, and talks a lot. Hailing from sunny California, she has grown and continues to grow through various mental health struggles. Her prayer is that God would glorify Christ through her life, and one day she hopes to be in heaven with Him. Until then, she'll probably be spending a lot of time in nature, getting meals with good friends, and pursuing His kingdom however He directs. More Precious are honoured and blessed to have her write for us.