Opening my latest weight training book for women, I felt a rush of endorphins. The before and after pictures and the visualization of another summer in my swimsuit motivated me to get control. I thought about my fit friends and what they would think of the new me. Would they say anything? The exact prescriptions of what to eat and how to exercise made me feel calm and in control.
I couldn’t fix my mom slowly losing her ability to walk, or my teenager’s anxiety, or stop one more major appliance or vehicle from breaking down. But this body of mine, the way my stomach hangs over my jeans, that I could fix.
Maybe you’ve been there too? Desperate for better health, anxious to control your life, and searching for the feeling of having done something right. Diets promise us all of that.
But diets go down like artificial sugar. They taste sweet at first but leave us bitter in the end. Diet culture has a way of creating emptiness. It promises what only Christ can fulfill—value, provision, and hope.
The average woman tries two diets each year. Shame motivates us to go fast so we can feel better. The problem with this approach is that fast doesn’t last. So, we must go slow to win at the lifelong journey of caring for our bodies. Gospel-centered habits are slow because we are not motivated by shame, but rather by gratitude for the bodies God gave us.
Galatians 6:7-9 tells us “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
There is no one size fits all formula for being healthy. Just like there is no one size fits all way that the Holy Spirit pursues our hearts. We are each individual and beautiful creations, and what works for one of us, may not work for another. Sisters let’s ask God how he wants us to use our health and bodies for his glory, with these seven gospel truths.
7 GOSPEL TRUTHS FOR YOUR HEALTH JOURNEY
- Honoring God is the best motivation—when we seek to honor God in all that we do, we know the victory has already been won. Seeking God’s glory puts us in step with the almighty God of the universe and his relentless power. Getting our lives caught up in the current of God’s love and his honor, will keep us from paddling upstream against his sure purposes for our lives. If we stay healthy for God’s glory, and God is for us, who can be against us!?
- Slow is better than fast—sisters let’s banish the all-or-nothing thinking that is produced by our body shame. We want to be as healthy as we can for the rest of our lives, for the glory of God. We want these changes to be permanent. And we certainly don’t want the yo-yo dieting coaster to become our ride-or-die. To find lasting success in the slow lane of health, let’s ask ourselves the question: “What do I need to be successful at this for the rest of my life?” God created our brains with an amazing ability to give us great solutions when we ask ourselves great questions.
- Your worth is in Christ alone—I don’t know about you, but I feel pretty sure of my worth in Christ until I see another girl who is more successful, more fit, or more put together than I am. When I’m alone with Jesus in my Bible, I feel confident in the body he gave me, the talents he created me with, and the circumstances in my life that I know he’s using for good. But the temptation to compare and feel less than others is very real for me. This is why I daily need to cling to Christ and the truth he speaks about me in his word. I desperately need those reminders in my life each day.
- God cares about every detail of your life—he is not only a big-picture God but a God of the details as well. He cares about the mundane and unseen. He notices when I can’t sleep at 3 am. He shouts for joy over that tough parenting moment I handled with the grace that no one will ever see. He delights me with his creativity in how the sunset never looks the same way twice. He meets me on my daily walks and gave me the muscles to exercise. He created in detail all the good things I pile in my salad. And he whispers to me when I’ve spent too much time scrolling and my thoughts are dwelling in unfruitful places. Nothing is too small to be untouched by his love. When we feel alone, he is there, loving us in vivid detail.
- The enemy is against you, but God is for you—let’s not forget we have a real and present enemy of our souls. The devil is prowling around like a roaring lion seeking to devour us. Satan wants us sick, unhealthy, tired, and stuck. He wants to make our lives as miserable as possible and dampen our kingdom impact. But the end of the story is that God is for us, and he conquered the power of the enemy when he died on the cross and rose again three days later. The victory belongs to the Lord, and he is on our side.
- Lean in the promptings and conviction of the Holy Spirit—the very best plan for healthy living is individualized to each one of us and is based on something we can continue for the rest of our lives. There is no better way to tailor our approach to something that will last than to lean into the promptings and conviction of the Holy Spirit. When we don’t know what to do next, we can simply ask for wisdom and the Bible tells us he gives it generously to all without finding fault. (James 1:5)
- Your shame is covered by the blood of Jesus—every one of us experiences shame. And for Christian women, a lot of that shame comes from the way we view our physical bodies. I feel shame when I binge eat half a pizza. I feel shame when I compare myself to my skinny friend who works out all the time. I have thoughts of being less valuable when I feel the way my thighs rub together.
I don’t know that those thoughts will ever truly go away. But I do know that I can take them captive and replace them with the truth that Jesus died on the cross to redeem me. He first loved me when I was at my most unlovable. Sister in Christ let’s let that truth sink in today.
Ashley Christian is an author and frequent contributor to the Gospel Centered Health team. She is a mama to 5 not-so-little people through birth and foster adoption and homesteads on a little slice of heaven in rural Texas. You can find her at www.homesteadsweethome.com.