On July 22, 2019, I started my weight loss journey after a lifetime of poor eating habits and lack of concern for my health. While this may sound like the start of a self-help article entitled, “How to Get Your Dream Body in 90 Days!”, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, to even discuss my weight loss makes me extremely uncomfortable. I have actually avoided telling many people about my weight loss and the world will likely see Jesus return before I ever post a before and after picture on social media.
This discomfort in speaking about my weight loss does not stem from a deeply rooted insecurity regarding my physical appearance. I’ve never been the person who is insecure about the way I look, even in the horrifying and vulnerable teen years. I would love to say that this comfort in my own skin is a result of my own efforts and humility. But the truth is that God simply wired me to be a person who has no interest in deriving value from my appearance.
Instead, my inward discomfort comes from a deep sadness I feel towards a world that places enormous stock in the importance of appearance. It comes from not knowing what to tell others when they comment about this “self-improvement” that I’ve made. It deeply grieves me that the underlying message in the world is that when a person’s appearance changes, they suddenly become this “new and improved” model of themself. I know of only one thing that makes us a new creation and that is Jesus, not weight loss.
So in my crankiness towards this message of vanity, I reflected on my own experience of losing a lot of weight and the realities that I have tasted and seen along the way.
1. Absolutely nothing has changed about my standing with God.
1 Samuel 16:7 says, “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not a man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart”.
In a world where appearance is everything, it is immensely challenging not to project the world’s measuring stick onto God. A shocking experience in losing the amount of weight that I have is that I suddenly started getting treated differently by the world around me. People started noticing me more, smiling at me more, and just treated me more favorably. It’s actually quite disturbing to notice this difference and to see just how fickle the world really is.
This is not the case with God. The world’s love of me may change based on my weight or jean size. But praise be to God that I have a glorious Savior who carried the weight of my sin on the cross. I am convinced evermore that the only weight that could have ever separated me from the love of God was the weight of my unatoned sin.
2. Absolutely nothing has changed about my brokenness.
“Wow, you look amazing! Do you feel so much better now?”
I get asked this question a lot. It is quite bizarre as I don’t always know what others mean when they ask it. Are they asking if I feel better physically? Are they wondering if I feel better about myself? Is it that they are thinking that I feel better emotionally?
The harsh reality is that while I feel more physically healthy than I have in years, this weight loss has done absolutely nothing for my brokenness. I am still the same person with the same struggles I had six months ago. I continue to be a person who struggles not to place my value in accolades, recognition, and praise from others. In fact, as I write this article now, I am praying that my own heart would find its rest in my adoption as a daughter of the King, not in what others will think of these words I write.
The truth is that the “perfect body” will never give us the satisfaction or joy we so deeply desire. Jesus, in a similar fashion, warned the Pharisees about their obsession with appearances.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew 23:27-28
You can lose that weight, wear the latest fashions, or fix that thing you don’t like about the way you look but it won’t make a bit of difference if your heart is broken and far from God. So yes, it makes me uncomfortable when others look at me differently because I am acutely aware that on the inside, I am still broken and still desperately in need of God.
3. Absolutely nothing has changed about my mission and purpose.
God has one mission and purpose for His church and that is to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). This fleshes itself out in many different ways as not all were made to be pastors, prophets, evangelists, apostles, and teachers (Ephesians 4:11). However, we were all made to work together “ to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12).
Nothing special happened about my life’s purpose and mission as a result of losing the weight that I lost. The world may say that those who “look a certain way” are set apart, special, better. But that worldview is an unstable foundation of sand that will eventually crumble underneath our feet.
We must build our foundation on the Rock of Truth that we are one Body and our Body has one mission of reaching the world for Christ. This purpose is higher and holier than any empty mission or purpose that the world tries to sell us.
By this point, you’re probably asking why in the world I would decide to lose so much weight in the first place. My reasons are simply that God commands me to steward the good gifts He has given me, including my body. Also, it’s just a fact that an increased physical discipline in my life has made fulfilling my mission and purpose less burdensome.
So, friend, wherever this article finds you in the area of physical health and wellness, know that the realities above do not change based on the number on the scale or the size of jeans you fit into. We must be committed to cleaning the inside of the cup. Our earthly bodies are breaking down day by day, a fate none of us can avoid. We leave our earthly bodies behind when we breathe our last breath but our souls live forever. Steward the beautiful gift of a body that the Lord has given you, but never forget to clean the inside of the cup.