I (Christina) work out a lot. I run 2-3 miles 5-6 days a week. During any given week I also lift weights, do hundreds of jumping jacks, thousands of sit-ups, box and teach several dance classes. I have become a bit OCD with working out; it just feels weird if I have to skip a day besides my one designated rest day. I monitor my heart rate, calories burned and miles traveled each day. On top of all that I eat fairly well too. I eat even better when I force myself to write down everything that I ate/drank during the day. I refuse to yo-yo diet anymore, as I have in years past. I am determined to keep my health and exercise as a life change, a new way of living. And all that takes monitoring.
So why have I swirled myself into all this?
To look good naked of course!
I am sure anyone who knows our story, the one about the 2 year plus streak of intimacy, would assume I am super comfortable with my nakedness. That I am all accepting of every bump and curve, jiggle and squish. Or perhaps those who know me and know how hard I work out 6 days a week (some days twice!) that under my clothes I am totally toned, fit and amazing looking. Well, none of that is true. I have quite the love-hate relationship with my body. I do not secretly have the abs of a body builder. Nor am I particularly comfortable with myself underneath my clothes.
In the past 2 years I have seen my weight fluctuate; my eating habits change and my clothing size diminish. But overall the number on the scale has not dropped all that dramatically. This became a source of pain and ultimately detrimental to the acceptance of my body. People eventually began to notice a slimmer Christina and would ask me how much weight I had lost only to be answered with “nothing” or “just a couple pounds”. Lifting weights, while awesome for fat loss, doesn’t really help with weight loss, at least for me. During the summer of 2015 I could no longer bear the scale number not budging so I tossed it in the garbage.
Surely, I thought, getting rid of the evil scale would solve my self-esteem issue.
Well surprise! It so did not!
I had become so connected to and obsessed with the scale’s numbers, and even to the tape measure’s numbers (which every health expert will tell you is a much better way to measure yourself anyway, to that I say phooey!). I was convinced the evil scale and the lying tape measure were both part of a Mean Girls Club purposely trying to bring me down.
But the “Mean Girls” were not really my problem. I eventually came to realize this by the fall of 2015. I was so full of discontent because of where my focus was. I was too focused on me and what I saw in my body, so much so that even all the nice, well-meaning compliments never stuck to me for very long.
They were a high and I needed more accolades on weight loss to fuel me. It all just left me wanting more, never feeling satisfied with myself, with who God created.
I just knew the person He created needed fixing on the outside, and I was determined to fix my outside.
But, I was wrong.
The woman God created needed fixing on the inside.
I needed to change my focus.
So I prayed.
I prayed for God to give me His eyes, to show me how He sees me, and to show me how my husband sees me. It was a lofty prayer and I didn’t see immediate results. Answers did not come right away because I needed that time to ease into looking through the eyes of others. If I was granted immediacy in my quest I think I would have begun to grow egotistical instead of humble. Egotism is fleeting, shallow and unhelpful. But humility is lasting, deep and if I allowed it, a place from which to grow.
The past 2 years have been filled with a lot of exercise, healthful eating, nice compliments, and exciting wardrobe changes. It was a time of superficiality and a time of focusing on me a bit too much. But this shallow step was a necessary step toward depth and the lasting achievement of hitting a goal. Not a goal of weight loss and the “perfect body”, but a goal of maturity. This prayer I prayed was not out of desperation nor because it was the next diet plan I was duped by social media to follow,
I prayed the prayer because I didn’t trust my husband!
Nathaniel has always told me on the days I feel fat, and the days I feel thin, the days I know I must be ugly and the occasional days I feel beautiful, just how lovely I am. But for years I did not believe him. I didn’t trust his judgement. I rationalized his affinity for my body was very biased. I was his wife and mistress and he knew sex was more likely (pre-streak) if I felt good about my body. So, he made sure I knew he loved my body. This was an assumption I believed instead of choosing to believe reality.
One of the foundational bricks of our marriage is trust, not just of the big things, like don’t cheat, but of the little things too…like trust each other when we speak. I trusted most things he said, just not the things about my body. Perhaps it was really a mixture of distrust and my inability to accept his compliments, but nonetheless the same outcome still poured out of me…
Disbelief in how my husband viewed me.
God saw all that He made and it was very good.
A basic Biblical truth that is just so hard to grasp when it is so easy to feel like I am the opposite. This verse isn’t conditional; God’s love is pure and honest. My husband’s affinity for me is also unconditional, pure and honest. So what is it about me that I couldn’t accept his truth or God’s truth? Often I switch back and forth between feeling bad about my body and feeling my body (or at least some of my body parts) is pretty great. Fluctuating back and forth between disgust and acceptance and occasionally love for my body is exhausting. I feel like I am always trying to ride the border between poor self- esteem and great self -esteem so I can live somewhere around healthy self-esteem.
For the grace given me, I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly that you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.
Living in the land of healthy self-esteem comes from this verse. Measure my self-worth by what God has given me and how I choose to use it, not by how I compare myself to others, not by the compliments of others, nor by the “better” bodies of others, but by the body God blessed me with and how I choose to use it. If my self-worth is wrapped up in how I view myself, in how others view me and even how my husband views me, then I will never be content. All these views are fleeting, yes, even my husband’s views. While the views of Nathaniel and others could be true, they are fleeting to me because they are not coming from the source, from God. But when I chose to focus on and believe God’s point of view as my truth then I become fulfilled and the compliments of others don’t inflate my head nor do they evaporate in my mind as soon as they are spoken. With the foundation of my self-esteem centered and focused on Christ then I know His truth about myself and can believe the things others say, but I do not need to be fueled and refueled by the point of view of others.
Looking good naked is more than a state of mind. It is more than just loving my body. It is a state of being and accepting the creation that God made me to be, no matter what weight I am. For me looking good naked is something I need to continue to pray for, but not for superficial reasons anymore.
Now, I want to look good naked because I finally want to accept the body Christ gave me.