Can you truly believe that your body is your friend?

How many of you look in the mirror and feel like weeping? You hate shopping for jeans because nothing ever fits right. You do your best not to think about anything below the neck throughout the day. When you sit down on the toilet (it’s okay to mention it, we all do it!), all you see is the rolls of fat.

You’re angry at all the jiggling. You wish you could remove all the mirrors from the bathroom.

When making love, it’s hard to enjoy it when you know your body looks nothing like the pictures of the old you in the wedding photos. 

You’ve tried starving yourself (that didn’t last long). Every few years you use Lent as an excuse to quit chocolate, but you ended up raiding Haagen Dazs vanilla instead.

If that’s you, I’d say you’re the typical woman. You beat yourself up over your body.

But isn’t that the mindset of someone who sees her body as her enemy?

If your body is your enemy, then your goal is to conquer it. You’ll always be at war–with yourself.

That sets you up for a lifetime of hatred, failure, and even ingratitude. And hatred of self rarely led to a successful weight loss strategy.

What if there were another way? What if God wants us to see our bodies as precious and wonderful–as our friends?

That’s what I want to talk about for our series this month: How we can get more in touch with our bodies, and stop feeling as if our bodies are enemies who have betrayed us. I want to help us look at how to embrace our bodies as friends.

After all, if we were to treat our body as our friend, what would we do?

First, we wouldn’t hide from it. We’d be thankful for what it could give us without expecting more than it can give. We wouldn’t berate and lecture our friend; we’d encourage and cheer it on! We’d want the best for it, which means that we would feed it well, give it what it really needs, and exercise it.

We’d want others to enjoy our friend, too, so we would show off our friend in the best possible light. We would dress it well, not drown it in oversized, baggy clothes. We would be proud to be seen with our friend.

And we’d enjoy living life with our friend! We’d kick the soccer ball around with our kids. We’d stretch and lift stuff and be amazed at how awesome our friend is. We’d cheer her on to get even better! If she’s only a beginner when it comes to what she can do, we’d encourage her to keep going, and we’d celebrate every small success.

And we wouldn’t condemn our friend to have no sex life until our friend shaped up; we would want our friend to live life to the fullest that she can, right now, where she was.

If your body is your enemy, then your goal is to conquer it. You’ll always be at war–with yourself. 

But what if you find it hard to accept your body?

It can be difficult when we’re just not happy with our bodies, or we feel as if they’re going downhill. One woman I know was either pregnant or breast-feeding for about eight years straight. Then one summer she was finally done, and the family headed to the beach. Thankful to be without a child hanging off of her, she lay down, face up, on a towel, only to find that one boob had migrated under one armpit, and the other under the other. Everything was sliding where it was not supposed to. How do you love your body when that happens?

But what if we could reframe it? What if we could celebrate what our body had done–give birth and give nourishment–and consider some of the sagging to be battle wounds that we could be proud of?

Or what if you grew up seeing your body always as they enemy?

Maybe you were told that your body would cause boys to sin and boys to lust, and so you had to cover up. Maybe you heard this message, and then you were ALSO sexually abused, making you feel that there was something inherently wrong with you?

When I wrote about how the “your body is a stumbling block to boys” message was so unhelpful, one woman left this comment:

When I was a teacher at a Christian school in my 20s I ended up on the “dress code committee” in charge of revisions to the existing dress code. Because the building was not air conditioned, they had decided to allow shorts in warm weather months (early fall and late spring). We had to determine an appropriate length. In the course of the discussions, I was forced to stand up and be the example of why longer shorts were better. The administrator in the group explained to the room that I was a good example of the problem with shorts as my legs were “just too long” and no matter what I wore, unless it was a long baggy skirt, I would be a “stumbling block for men” and my body was “really just a problem”.

I can’t tell you how damaging it is to be told BY YOUR BOSS that God made you wrong and your existence is essentially a “problem” for every male person you ever meet.

And many, many girls experienced sexual bullying and sexual jokes at their expense when they simply matured fast, and had a large chest.

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Of course, sometimes our bodies do betray us, and we develop chronic conditions that make life painful, or we develop illnesses that make life far too short.

That is the reality of life in a fallen world. But let’s not lose sight of the good things that God intended for us through our bodies.

God made sex to be AWESOME!

It’s supposed to be great physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Feel like something’s missing?

​We have so many negative messages about our body in this society.

In the wider society, we hear that we’re not good enough and we don’t measure up. In our marriages, we may feel as if our body isn’t good enough because our husbands struggle with pornography (or your husband uses porn). In the church, we may feel as if our bodies are bad because we’ve grown up hearing that they are the cause of sin.

But this isn’t the message that God gives to us. When He made us–and that included our bodies–He said that it was good.

And it is with your body that you experience life. You smell the wonderful, comforting aroma of a stew in a crockpot. You smell a beautiful bouquet of flowers. You appreciate Carrie Underwood singing How Great Thou Art, or a baby chortling when his mommy tickles his tummy. You feel the sand in your toes; the sun on your face. You experience that lovely sensation when you receive a massage; when you stretch out a muscle; when your husband kisses your ear.

And your body can do so much! It can bear and nourish children, yes, but it is also the vehicle through which you do everything else. Whatever purpose God has for you on earth, you will use your body to do it.

God does not hate your body and value your soul; He values all of you, and your body matters. Think of how many miracles Jesus did that involved bodies. Certainly there are the healings, but there are also the miracles of the feeding of the 5000 and the feeding of the 4000. He cared about our bodily needs.

And we’re going to have resurrection bodies, too! Our physical selves matter, so much so that God created us to feel pleasure and to act our marriage in a very physical way.

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Can you do it? Can you put aside negative messages and see your body as a friend, and not an enemy?

Your body is an intrinsic part of you, and I truly believe that the more you can be grateful for and embrace your body in a healthy way, the more you can start living life to the fullest. And that’s what God wants for us!

So this month, join me on a journey where we look at how to understand our bodies better; how to develop sexual confidence; how to handle postpartum recovery; and even how to understand the way that trauma affects the body.

What do you think? Do you see your body as a friend or as an enemy? Let’s talk in the comments!

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