by Tara Johnson
Push ups. Pull ups. Sit ups. Juice fasts. No carbs. All carbs. Cellulite. Lipsuction. Tummy tucks. Botox. Lunges. Slimming pants. Spanx. Colon cleanse. Burn, sweat and you’ll be ripped, finally attaining physical perfection and the fulfillment of your dreams.
Our culture is inundated with the strive for the perfect body. Whether it’s diets, workout plans, skin imperfections or the like, we have become a people obsessed. Just look at all the controversy that popped up weeks ago when a photo of Cindy Crawford hit the internet—a photo void of airbrushing and computer tricks. The media was all abuzz. “Wait…Cindy Crawford has stretch marks? Say it isn’t so!”
I fear we resemble the evil Queen from Snow White who started each day critically looking at her reflection and asking, “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all?” We receive our compliments and our pride gets its needed puff for the day. All is well and good until that hateful mirror changes his tune one unexpected day and says, “Uh, you know Susie from down the road? Yeah, she’s looking way better than you. She’s been doing the 21 day fix while you’ve been plastering your face wrinkles with spackle and eating oreos. You’ve got some work to do.”
So we panic and throw ourselves into yet another diet, another exercise regimen, kicking ourselves for letting ourselves go while Susie receives the accolades for being the fairest in the land.
Put another way, some of us are trying to find our worth through our outward appearance.
I get it. I really do. I’m probably the worst offender in this area. At five foot, ten inches, no matter how thin I actually am, all I see is a hulking giant in my mirror and I envy my petite-I-can-eat-a-cheeseburger-and-still-look-ripped little friends. If it has the label Beachbody anywhere on it, I probably own it and am one of those strange people who truly enjoys a hard workout. I like the sweat and pain because it tells me that I worked hard and survived. It’s a great stress release and a fantastic way to manage depression and a host of other problems.
Exercise and making wise choices is important. As a child of God, I’m only given one body and I need to take care of it. But sometimes my perspective gets out of whack, as I know it does for many of my readers.
I love the way Jennifer Rothschild put it in her book Me, Myself & Lies.
“Imagine your job was keeper of the temple in ancient Israel. Every morning you wake before dawn to enter the temple courts with your broom and mop. Throughout the day you are occupied with dusting, arranging, cleaning, oiling hinges and polishing wood…But what if you say to yourself as you sweep and polish, ‘I don’t need to worship in this temple. I’ll just spend time patching cracks in the plaster or sweeping along the baseboards. I want this temple to be the best-looking temple there is!’ “
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” ~ 1 Corinthians 3:16
Please don’t misunderstand. This is not a call for laziness. Should we pitch those workout DVDs and stop trying? Absolutely not. The purpose of taking care of your body, keeping your heart strong, eating healthy foods and exercise is to make sure you are fit and able to do whatever God is calling you to do. We shouldn’t be doing it to honor the temple but to bring honor to the One who dwells inside the temple.
We should worship in the temple, not worship the temple.
How often do thoughts of your physical appearance, your weight, body shape or any other physical ‘wrapping’ invade your thoughts? Keep a count. For most ladies in our culture, I fear the tally marks on the page make the white paper nearly black.
Beauty fades. Skin looses its elasticity. Joints grow stiff. Stretch marks abound but your outer wrapping does not determine your value. “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” ~Proverbs 31:30
Please don’t build your temple into an idol for it’s a god that will only crumble. Focus on loving Jesus with all your heart, mind, soul and strength…and make healthy food and exercise choices along the way. We should not revel in our broken down temples any more than we should glorify the gleaming, pristine walls of the perfectly swept house of worship.
Aren’t you glad your worth is not dependent on your looks? It’s all about the condition of your heart and, really, being the fairest in the land has much more to do with the heart than anything else anyways.
Just ask Snow White.