Category Archives: Body Image

What to Wear on Your First Day of School

It’s time for a little campfire confession. 


After 6 years out of the classroom, I enrolled in an exercise class at our local community college this semester. Last Monday, I got to experience all the excitement of a “first day of school” again. 

This shouldn’t mean much to a 28 year old momma of toddlers. However, after hanging out all summer with some adventurous middle- and high-school aged girls, I have caught on to the first-day-of-school energy. 

I got up, got dressed, prepped the twins to spend lunch time with their daddy (so much fun), and even got to class EARLY (big difference between 18 year old me and 28 year old me). I was ready to embrace all that God had for my first day of school. 

Unfortunately, all that positive energy shriveled away when I walked into the classroom. Replacing it was a familiar combination of feeling intimidated, self-conscious, and oddly uncomfortable in my own skin.

As many of us would, I found a coping mechanism to deal with my anxiety: comparison. 

I scanned the room for someone who appeared less fit, less stylish, less something than I was hoping to appear. My superficial perspective gave me artificial confidence about my own impressiveness. 

I did not ask this girl about her day. I did not compliment her cute hair or comment on her tenacity in the class. To be honest, her courage to take the course inspired me, but I kept that to myself.  

I missed a beautiful opportunity to get to know a lovely image bearer of the most high God because I was too concerned with my own status. 

The irony is, I had consciously chosen to “dress down” to appear less-than-concerned with my appearance that morning (insert dramatic eye roll here). 

I spent more time in that class in comparison trap than in SYMOTA (set your mind on things above). My concern for self-preservation was out-shining my usual tendency to share God’s love. The biggest stranger I encountered in that room was myself. 

Had I set my mind on the way God sees me, and my classmates for that matter, I would have recalled this verse that I had once memorized:

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12 

Friend, I suspect you have had a similar experience. Whether you are a freshman in high school or a fresh new mommy at a park play-date, you have probably faced a similar temptation on your first day. We want to appear confident, cool, collected, but we leverage other people’s flaws to do so. 

Ironically, at the foundation of compassion for others is a settled and confident spirit. I don’t think one can show compassion without confidence. Rather than putting others down to appear that we have it all together, what if we dealt with our insecurities through Jesus Christ’s faithful love for us? This kind of love fills every void and bubbles over into compassion for others. 

What could happen if we found room for kindness in our daily display choices?

What if we primped our hearts with a readiness to be humble and selfless instead of self-conscious?

What if we concerned ourselves with the impact we could make on others instead of whether or not they make us feel good about ourselves? 

What if we dressed to bless, instead of dressing to impress?

Whether you face your first day of class, work, cross fit, or the senior center, I challenge you to learn from my embarrassing first day blunders. Let’s make room for some Christlike compassion in our concern for great first impressions. 

P.S. I am profoundly grateful for 20+ weeks of class to see how Gods grace provides a do-over for compassion. 

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Earning your Stripes: why celebrating stretch marks in pregnancy is GR-R-REAT

stretch marks fb

“NOOOOO!!!” I cried.

I found it… glaring at me from the right lower side of my expanding belly: my first stretch mark. At 24 weeks (6 months), it showed up like a slash mark on my gorgeous baby-bump.

I growled with irritation!

Seriously, I rub greasy lotion on that skin religiously.

I’ve been chugging water like a camel.

I even tried vitamin E oil, till I broke out in a nasty rash that covered my entire tummy.

Grrr, stupid allergies. Ruined my chances for a perfect glowing belly full of people and potential for wearing my bikini proudly again (for my husbands eyes only, of course).

Then I remembered who was listening. Instant conviction settled over me. Not only had my great God, who designed my body to do exactly this, heard my cries of vanity… but so did my sweet daughter inside.

Crap. Now I have body guilt AND mommy guilt.

Thankfully, “there is no condemnation (guilt) for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

It took a few hormonal tears, a pep talk from my darling husband, and a personal resolve to have a holy perspective before I was able to say this, but here is what is true:

stretch marks pinI am earning my TIGER STRIPES!

Each stretch mark represents so much:

  • God’s design of my body to expand and provide life to two little humans
  • My willingness to serve and sacrifice for our children
  • The fact that my belly really did undergo major reconstruction (its not all in my head that I feel huge)
  • I am a woman! I am not a girl… I have gorgeous curves and getting said curves required a little more room.
  • I am a mother. I am not an object. My body is not a notch on the hot-n-skinny scale.
  • I am still sexy to my husband. He compares my stretch mark to a tough-girl bruise or war wound. He says it makes me look more hard-core.

This week held a first for me in my journey of motherhood: guarding my tongue for my daughter’s (and son’s) sake.

At age 2 or 12, our kids are looking to us to define their worldview. I don’t want my son to judge a woman’s beauty based on her lack of stretch marks. I don’t want my daughter finding her worth in clear skin or a perfect body. But this will be their “default mode” if I live from that perspective.

I am taking the words of Jesus very seriously:

“But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone hung around your neck. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off…” (Mark 9:42-43)

It is my goal to “cut off” that mentality from my day to day thinking. Of course, it’s not enough just to stop thinking negatively about my body. So I will do as Romans 14:13 says, and “decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.”

A bump progress picture from week 23.
A bump progress picture from week 23.

This means:

  • Focusing more on God’s glory instead of my vanity.
  • Finding positive things about my body (see list above) and other’s bodies too!
  • Finding accountability partners who will call me out on my words or behaviors that reflect a negative self-image.
  • Surrounding myself and my children with people and messages that concentrate on glorifying God’s image.
  • Avoiding or addressing media and advertisements that pull myself or my children back into self-focused thinking (positive or negative).

I will no longer growl at my body every time I notice a flaw. Instead, I will look at each part, beautifully made, and proclaim to the world: They’re GR-R-REAT!

My first "bare belly" picture, and you can barely see the stretch mark!
My first “bare belly” picture, and you can barely see the stretch mark!

How about you!? What do your “tiger stripes” mean to you? How do you “cut off” negative perspectives in order to help your family (and self) flourish as an image bearer of God?

*Need to positively affirm your body today? Take a picture, exactly how you are. Include your daughters or your whole family! Post the picture to your favorite social media, and give glory to God for being made in His image with the following tags: #Beautifullymade #thankyouJesus

Want more on this subject? See my post on being overweight here.

 

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4 Good Reasons to Stop saying the F-word.

fword picOk, I’m not talking about that F-word… Though I would really like to stop seeing it appear on my Facebook feed. (Shameless plug, my friends.)

Nope, the abominable F-word I am talking about is… dare I say it on my blog?….. FAT.

There is a popular “pin” showing up on Pinterest* lately:

47680

Inigo Montoya is correct. ALL women need to stop using that word. Here is why:

1. You are negatively critiquing God’s masterpiece.

Stop calling yourself fat, please. It hurts my heart. It hurts God’s heart.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14

2. Your negative self-talk will stimulate someone else’s.

We need to stop saying the word “fat” for the sake of our mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

See, the word “fat” is a trigger word for other women (and men) who are struggling. Ask a former drug addict what triggers his craving for drugs he no longer uses…. he will say “anything from conversation about drug use to visual stimulation (like movies or pictures).”

It’s a battle to not give in to the temptation. The word “Fat” is the same kind of trigger. It doesn’t make us crave food persay, but it does stimulate that negative-self-talk nerve. We think, “Ooh, she is calling herself fat, well I a have a muffin top no-one can compete with.”

It becomes a self-depreciation epidemic. Internally or vocally, fat-thinking is contagious.

>>I need to pause here and remind myself not to internalize any of the words I am writing. It can be that powerful.<<

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. Genesis 1:31

3. Your identity is in Christ.

The issue here is not the word “fat”. I made an amazing chicken chili the other day. When I was trimming the fat off of the chicken, I didn’t have a mental breakdown about my body. Nope, just making dinner.

The problem is the word that comes before “fat”: is / am

These are identity words. “I am fat/she is fat;” rather than “I have too many fat cells.”

How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes are doves. –Solomon to his wife (also God’s words to His people), Song of Songs 1:15

We have to change the culture we live in. We have to create a shift in identity thinking for ourselves and our families.

Jesus is where our identity starts. If you have surrendered your life** to this One and only Savior, then He is your master… the only one who’s opinion matters. We are daughters of the King of kings… mighty warriors for His Kingdom…. the picture of His love and devotion to a lost and dying world.

We are not FAT.

We may have fat, but it is not who we are.  We can address our health, fitness, and shape in a way that glorifies God and compliments his healthy design for our bodies. But this process DOES NOT INVOLVE identity name calling!!!!

4. God has given us a purpose:

Many internet sensations would now be telling you to just love yourself more. That is bologna.

I am not advocating “love yourself” philosophy. I am encouraging a “get your eyes on Jesus” theology.

We don’t need to love ourselves more. Jesus love for us should be enough! When we get our eyes on Jesus, his death and resurrection to save us, and His work in our daily lives, our perspective changes: We love Jesus more. We think about Jesus, not whether or not we are fat or skinny. And when we are focusing on Jesus, we naturally start living the healthy life of a Christ-follower, spiritually, physically, and mentally.

This “fat identity” thing is only a distraction from the truth of our true purpose and sense of self: to love our God and share His love with the people around us. This is called GOOD NEWS. We cannot be positive about the good news of Jesus if we keep our attention on our negative perspective of our bodies.

I try very very hard to be positive about my body, for all the reasons above. But it is difficult to take a stand in a society that is overrun with parasitic paraphernalia (media) and conversations of negative thinking.

Will you join me in creating a new culture for Facebook, Pinterest, family get-togethers, locker-room self talk, conversations at the gym, and in-front-of-mirror perspectives?

Take down those pins. Delete those posts. Rewrite your Instagram pic descriptions. Change the culture.

#Beautifullymade    #ThankYouJesus

(Check out my “Life Shapers” Pinterest Board for creative and positive truths to pin)

I love you, and I am praying for you.

Becky

*Another thing that bothers me about the Pinterest picture is the women who feel they need to take pictures of their bodies in a way that displays so much skin. There is so much I could say about identity, security, and modesty, but I will save it for another day. For now, can we just get our eyes on Jesus, and stop asking for everyone else’s eyes to be on our bodies, whether we feel attractive or not…?

** Have you made the decision to follow Jesus? I would love to share my story with you about how Jesus changed my life. Read about it here.

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