This blog has been silent for several months … and for that I apologize. I realize I don’t owe an explanation, but I would like to share why I haven’t written regularly.
My foster babies left me Easter Weekend. They had lived with me for 18 months, and in that time I grew to love them as my own. We spent February and March transitioning these two sweeties back to their mom. There are no words to describe how very difficult it was for them (and for me). Our emotions were so very tender and raw during that period of time. It was a season of grief, as well as one of expectation for all the good things to come. After all, the goal of fostering is to see children return to their biological parents, and in our case this goal was achieved. For our toddlers, sending them back to their mom meant success, and I have to admit that even in my own grief for myself I felt happy and hopeful for them.
On the heels of our babies returning home, one of my five children had major knee surgery. April was not the month of rest and recovery I hoped it might be. Instead, it was a blur of physical therapy appointments. I spent large portions of my day helping my daughter get around on her bum knee.
As you can see, writing on my blog was not my priority this spring. However, I am pleased to say that I sense the winds of my life changing directions, and once again I am finding I actually have time to write.
I’d like to begin afresh today, and start off by sharing a written version of a devotional speech I shared yesterday with a group of ladies attending a local Natural Women’s Health Symposium. To be able to share the stage with a nurse who specializes in women’s natural hormonal treatments, a functional dietician, and an exercise expert was a bit daunting. I don’t feel like much of an expert on anything! But I know what God has shown me in my own life regarding my self-image. And I feel compelled to share, both through writing and speaking.
I hope these words will be a blessing to you, as much as writing them down was an encouragement to me.
With love, Paige
When I was a young girl, I didn’t really believe in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. It seemed to be rather ridiculous to believe that a large rabbit or a fat man could manage to deliver gifts to children worldwide in a single night.
However, despite my unbelief over these two beloved childhood icons, I was a firm believer in The Tooth Fairy. I mean, after all, fairies are tiny. It would not be a problem for a fairy to enter someone’s home unnoticed. And besides, not every child lost a tooth on the same night. The workload was much more manageable. It just made sense that the tooth fairy could exist.
Sometime around my 5th birthday, a family friend made me a tooth fairy pillow. It was pink and had this small pocket on the back for putting my lost tooth inside. I couldn’t wait to put my first tooth in that pocket! Later on, I read a book about the tooth fairy, which told the story of an entire kingdom of tooth fairies. According to the story, every tooth fairy was assigned a particular child. The tooth fairies collected teeth and brought them back to the kingdom where those tiny teeth were used to pave the roads and build the houses. Of course the most pearly white teeth were used to build the Queen Tooth Fairy’s castle. Not only I was enchanted by the idea of having my own fairy, I was also convinced that my teeth would be certainly taken by the Queen to make her castle beautiful.
As you can imagine, I was beyond excited when I discovered my first loose tooth. I spent vast amounts of time wiggling it around in my mouth. But much to my dismay, when that tooth finally fell out, I accidently swallowed it. Oh, the horror!
Fortunately, my wise mother helped me write a note to the Tooth Fairy, and to my delight the next morning I found a personalized reply along with a quarter. Now I really was convinced that the Tooth Fairy was real, and that she loved me just as much as I loved her.
Now you might ask what my childhood belief in the tooth fairy has to do with women’s health. Good question! Actually, I am a blogger and what I mostly write about is my life with PCOS, a hormonal disorder that affects about 30% of American women, and how God is changing my own bad body image. And today, I’d like to share how long-ago visit from the Texas Tooth Fairy, a swimsuit, and a random comment from a friend altered the way I viewed myself … and how 40 years later, God is helping me see the truth about myself.
It wasn’t long after I lost my first tooth that I went to spend two weeks visiting my grandmother in Texas. The main reason for the visit was for me to take swimming lessons. I wanted pack my tooth fairy pillow for the trip because I had my second wiggly tooth, but my mother convinced me there was no reason to take it with me. She seemed to think, based on how long it took me to lose the first tooth, that my second wiggly tooth would still be in my mouth when I returned home from Texas.
She didn’t take into account just how much tooth wiggling a little girl can do on a four hour ride to grandma’s house. I wiggled so much that within a day of arriving at my grandmother’s house, the loose tooth had fallen out!
All afternoon, I fretted and worried. I didn’t have my special pillow. I wasn’t in my own bed in north Louisiana. What if my tooth fairy couldn’t find me all the way in Texas?! As my grandmother put me to bed that night, she said, “Now, Paige, don’t worry! The Texas Tooth Fairy will take care of you while you are here in Texas … I promise. And tomorrow morning you’ll see for yourself that the Texas Tooth Fairy is much better than any other tooth fairy out there.”
Sure enough, in the morning, my tooth had disappeared from underneath the pillow and in its place was … a cute new swimsuit! Wow! Who needed a personal tooth fairy when there was the Texas Tooth Fairy!
As I headed out for my first swim lessons, I felt amazingly confident wearing my brand-new swimsuit … the picked out for me by my new friend, the Texas Tooth Fairy!
There was a little girl who lived just a couple of houses down from my grandmother. Even though she was a year or two older than me, she would often walk down to my grandmother’s house to play with me. When my grandmother found out that she was taking swim lessons too, she invited her to ride to the pool with us every morning.
One morning, as we piled into the backseat of my grandmother’s station wagon, my friend turns to me and says, “How do you make your tummy do that?”
I looked down at my stomach, but didn’t see anything unusual. So I asked her, “Do what?”
“Make it bunch up like that … you know, in little rolls.”
I looked down again, first at my own stomach and then at hers and then back at my own. Honestly, until that moment, I never noticed anything different or unusual about my stomach. It was just my stomach. But now, as I compared mine to hers, I could see that my tummy wasn’t flat or smooth the way her tummy was.
Silently I wondered why my tummy bunched up in small rolls and hers didn’t.But before I could answer, my friend said matter-of-factly, “Well, it must be because you are fat.”
Fat?! I had never before thought of myself as being fat. Yet, my friend said I was. She was older than me and probably knew more, and so I figured that it must be true. On the ride to the pool, I pondered all these new-to-me ideas and by the time we got to the pool, I didn’t feel so amazing in my swimsuit anymore. In fact, I felt ashamed of my body. All I wanted was to get out of my swimsuit, so that I could try to hide my fat, bunchy tummy.
It’s been nearly 40 years since that summer day, and I never ever have felt good about wearing a swimsuit again.
Who among us hasn’t felt insecure about our appearance at least once or twice in our life?
I’m not a betting woman, but if I were, I would think it would be a safe bet to say most of you can relate. In fact, I would assume many of you might struggle with feelings of insecurity about your appearance on a regular basis. One thing is certain, I am not alone in my feelings.
I don’t know your issues, and perhaps they aren’t the same as my own. Maybe it’s not weight, but is it height? Are you too short or too tall? Perhaps it is feeling your nose is too big or your teeth are too crooked.
I may not know your particular issues, but I know my own … and if I am honest with you today, I have spent most of my adult life feeling like a failure at this womanhood thing due to weight struggles and hormonal imbalances. I’ve got hair growing in all the wrong places, while the hair on my head falls out leaving large balding patches. There are patches of psoriasis and flaking skin on my face. I have weight that’s impossible to lose, in spite of following a careful diet and working hard with trainers at my gym for four days every week.
It seems to me that for many women, body image is directly connected to self-image … and by self-image, I’m really talking about feelings related to our intrinsic value and worth.
Oh, but thank goodness our feelings are not facts. This is such an important truth for us to grasp. Our feelings and emotions do not always represent complete truth to us. Complete truth comes from only one source, and that is from God.
Today I want to briefly share three God-given truths regarding our value and hopefully as we think on the truths, we can experience having a better body image.
- We are created in the image of God
The very first chapter of the Bible tells us the God created humans in His image. No other creature on this earth bears this imprint. Only humans.
Then in Psalm 139: 13-14, we read this:
“You created my inward parts. You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
These two verses tell us that humans as a whole and each of us as individuals are created by God. He is our Maker, the very One who artfully put us together and gifted us with features He designed specifically for us to have.
Stop and consider something with me. Throughout history and even in society today, the artist or the creator sets the price when they go to sell their masterpieces. Look around this room and you’ll see vendor tables set up with a wide variety of handmade products. Jewelry. Soaps. Cosmetics. Each lady who made these items has set the price. She knows what her creations are worth.
Do you realize what this means about us? It means the only one who determines our value is God Himself because He is our Creator. Our value cannot be determined by what society, our culture, or the media says. Our value is not affected by what our friends tell us, or what our husband thinks. Not even what we think about ourselves has any bearing on our innate worth.God alone sets our value.
In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus Himself explained that humans are worth more than lowly sparrows or the lilies of the field. God created all of nature … this beautiful world in which we live. And yet, He put His image and likeness in humans. He values us above all the rest of His amazing Creation.
If that’s not enough, in Psalms 45:11, it says, “The King desires your beauty.”
Ladies, not only did God create us, not only does He place our value ahead of that of anything else on earth (plants, animals, etc), but He is so in love with us that He desires our beauty.
- True beauty comes from the heart, not from our outward appearances.
1 Peter 3:3-4 has this to say about true beauty:
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
There is nothing wrong with taking care of our bodies. In fact, if we are believers in Jesus Christ, He resides in us, making our bodies a holy temple. Just as we want our churches and cathedrals to be beautiful places of worship, we should want our bodies to honor the Lord. This means taking care of our physical body. Eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, wearing clothes that fit well, taking care of our skin … these are things we do because we love God and want to be faithful to take care of what He has blessed us with.
Sometimes however, we put too much emphasis on our outward appearance.
Did you know the average American woman spends $15,000 on make-up alone during her life? That’s the cost of a cheap car just for lipstick and eyeliner. And that doesn’t include having our hair, nails, or other cosmetic procedures done. It also doesn’t include money we might spend on gym memberships, personal trainers and workout equipment. The list of ways we try to improve our outward appearance can go on and on and on.
But ask yourself these questions:
How am I improving my inner qualities? Am I growing in peace, love and joy? What about showing patience, kindness or gentleness toward others? These qualities are far more valuable to God than the way we look on the outside.
If we aren’t careful to tend to our inner beauty like we do our outer beauty, everything can get out of balance. Soon, instead of just wanting to make good decisions about our health, we begin to place more and more value on our outward appearance. Eventually that desire to take care of our bodies transforms into a hungry for our own glory rather than seeking to bring God honor.
In 1 Corinthians 10:31 it says, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
So I would encourage you to take care of your body, but do it in such a way that it brings glory to God.
- This body is not going to last.
Someday, each of us will die. And that that point, this body will be buried. The reality is that this body isn’t going with us to heaven.
In fact, those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ can look forward to getting a new body in heaven. It’s going to be perfect, with no flaws. Now, I get excited when I think that I can finally say goodbye to hormonal imbalances. No more tweezing away unwanted hair. No more battle of the bulge. That will all be done, and I will be perfected by the glory of God.
The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5: 4-5: “These earthly bodies make us groan and sigh, but we wouldn’t like to think of dying and having no bodies at all. We want to slip into our new bodies so that these dying bodies will, as it were, be swallowed up by everlasting life. This is what God has prepared for us, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.”
And Paul wrote to the Philippians that Christ will transform our lowly bodies so that we will be like His glorious body.
None of us knows how long we have until we die and go on to eternity. But we don’t have to wait to die before we can start being transformed. I’m not saying we are going to get amazing bodies while we are here on earth, though I do believe that eating healthy, exercising, using natural and God-given ways of healing such as using essential oils and herbs can do a lot for increasing our health. However, this is another transformation that is available to us now. And that is the transformation of our minds and our spirits.
And so, dear brothers (or sisters), I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living sacrifice, holy—the kind he can accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask? Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how his ways will really satisfy you. (Romans 12:1-2)
How is it that God transforms us and makes us into new creations?
This happens naturally when we put God first and pursue a life that is honoring to Him … instead of a life that puts ourself first.
I don’t know about you, but I’d tired of carrying around the burden of a bad body image. I’m tired of letting my thoughts and feelings about my body dictate how I feel about how I am. I’m ready for something different, something better.
I hope you will join me exchanging a bad body image for the perfect love of Christ. He is our Creator and He values us above all creation. He says our worth is far more than just the sum of all our parts and pieces. He looks straight to our hearts and loves us in spite of outward or inward appearances. And best of all, He is willing to give us a beauty transformation from the inside out starting right now … if we just allow Him to work in us.