Many people struggle with body shame. It isn’t something often talked about in the church or even with friends, due to the fact that the very nature of shame—is hiding. Shame loves to keep us from being seen and calling it out for what it really is: A LIE.
Until we validate shame, it’s very hard to overcome it. If you struggle with your body image (and yes, many many guys struggle too), then STOP pretending that it doesn’t exist—acknowledge it. When we can acknowledge shame toward our body, it begins to weaken the grip it has on us.
When I was 5 years old, 3 older boys walked in on me while I was using a public bathroom, and they started laughing and mocking me. I don’t remember more than that, besides my mom being very upset about the whole thing. I know from the Holy Spirit that this was my introduction to shame. This moment was the onramp for the lie, which I would believe for years, to enter my heart… the belief that something was wrong with my body.
If you grew up on TV, as I did as a kid, then you received many messages. These were probably subliminal—telling you that something was for sure wrong with how you were made. Then combine that with the bodies of almost everyone on magazine covers and in every movie looking a certain way and from that you got the clear message: your body isn’t enough.
Then for me, you add a mom who not only thought something was wrong with her body but also made changes to “fix” it—now this lie is deeply rooted in the ground. Like all kids growing up, you take cues from your environment. This caused me to try to make sense of why someone I respected would alter the look of their body??
For this article’s sake, I can’t even go into porn and what that does to strengthen the lie around how God made our bodies. The simple fact is that there is a clear war on the image of God, not just who we are—but how we look. Body shame is real and those that have suffered from it know the constant struggle that comes with it. For women that I have counseled over the years, I have seen that the mirror can be a challenging place to stand before. Constantly feeling too big, too small, and just not enough.
If I am honest, I can’t say that body shame has been fully conquered in my own life, but I can say that God has given me some major keys to walk out of the lie that my body isn’t enough.
Here are 3 simple steps that have helped tremendously:
(1) Expose it. Own it. Stop pretending it doesn’t exist.
If you have body shame acknowledge it and be ok to own it before God and even others. At a small group last week (guys & gals) I mentioned that I have struggled with body shame, that I felt my body wasn’t enough. Not easy stuff, but coming out of hiding is the only way to break the power the enemy has over this area.
(2) Break all agreements, lies that have come with it, and verbally forgive the people who have opened the door to it.
Recently I got super real, raw, and out loud forgiving my mom and the three guys who opened this door (no, they were not there. But I do believe we can forgive people and release them even if it’s not in person, read Matthew 18:15-22). Sometimes going to the person isn’t possible (for many reasons), but we can still do Jesus style forgiveness from the backside, which then becomes the front side of Matthew 18. It was powerful, as I covered all the lies that entered, the places that I didn’t feel enough, broke the judgments over myself, etc. Yay God!
(3) Lastly replace the lies with the truth & then bless your body.
Ask Holy Spirit what the truth is. For me, this was easy as the truth flooded in like a rushing river! Verses came to mind like the one in Psalm 139 about being “fearfully and wonderfully made,” giving me a clear a picture of how God saw me in Him. Agreeing with truth and replacing the lies is crucial to getting free and staying free in Jesus. The last thing I did (I encourage you to do this often) is bless your body. Bless body parts, do it in a mirror, or however you feel comfortable; like Nike said, “Just Do it.” Bless the temple that God made, and remember He doesn’t make mistakes.
** and extra credit for married couples only: I would encourage to get naked with your spouses (yes Lord haha) and lay hands on each other, blessing all the parts of their body where shame has tried to setup camp (this puts a new spin on the laying on of hands, just sayin).
Body shame is real, I found through counseling countless people over the years, that often people’s worst enemy is their self. Once we learn to love and bless what God loves, it gets much easier to celebrate and love the people He places around us. Onward and upward as we move out of shame and into the truth of how God sees us in Him.
“You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.” – Song of Solomon 4:7