On Body Image, Faith and Spirituality

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Enchanted Woman by: Brigitee Werner http://pixabay.com/en/users/werner22brigitte-5337

One of the things that I have been really working hard on lately is the elimination of fear as a motivator in my life. Through some internal awakening and some guided coaching I have had the gift of beginning to unwind some of the realities that I have created using fear.  I have come to the place where I have learned that fear is largely something self created.  It is formed in the thoughts and stories that I construct about life and the world around me.

The primary arena in which this has taken place for me has been in my spiritual landscape.

I can remember the exact moment when I was first informed about the modern interpretation of hell.  I was 7 years old sitting on my princess canopy bed with a close friend who happened to also be our preacher’s daughter.  I remember her telling me all about the burning lake of fire and the destiny of all of those who did not quite meet up with God’s approval.  I remember instinctually thinking that nothing I was hearing matched up to the God I knew and was actually quite closely connected to as a child who could naturally abide.  At first I dismissed what she was saying thinking it just didn’t make sense.

However, gradually, over the years the interpretation set in.  God’s judgement became an ever increasing reality for me and as his love grew more conditional with every turn taking a back seat to everything that was harmonious about my faith.  The church, rather than a family of love or hospital for healing, became a courtroom in my mind.

Fear had entered stage left and it became a primary motivator for me in almost every action that I took.

In addition to this, I had adapted well to the many messages about shame that were tied to my body as it began to blossom into womanhood.  All natural desires were evil.  I was part of the cadre of women who could be led astray and deceive men.  My sexual desires had to be repressed and controlled and yet at the same time there was a growing pressure to become a fashion plate in order to attract the kind of man who would be the head of my home.  I must be both beautiful by every standard of beauty the world held and chaste.

I could not separate out the difference between my body and my soul.  I thought I was a body primarily to be honest. I would never have said any of this that way. I did not have the understanding about things to make such statements.  But this was the reality I lived.

My weight struggles began when I was about 11 although in full they did not really manifest until 14 or so. That said, by the time I hit adulthood I was in this juxtaposition where every time I ate something “bad”  I felt shame and guilt and feared the fires of hell.  I was simultaneously confirming my fall as a woman and as an individual and creating the kind of body that was unacceptable and unworthy of love.

And this is where I was at when I entered the coaching process.

Today as I write this, I am a few years into my healing. And, I can see how very different things look.

I would love to be picking this up from my last blog entry and reporting that I had maintained or even increased in my weight loss.  The reality is though, that this is not the case.  Last Summer I reached a point of fatigue and though I have not gained everything back I definitely have taken more than a couple of steps back.

It is also the day after Thanksgiving and I am feeling so puffed up both from the carbs of the week and the focus on sales and shopping that my family hits that I almost am craving a fast.

The very strange thing though, is I can look from last Thanksgiving until now and really see a difference. Yes there is some net loss still but overall I feel closer to square one than I really do my ultimate weight goals.

However, I did shed some things last year that I do not think I can possibly gain back.

~Shame~

I do not feel ashamed of my body.  I do not see it as the source of sin and I do not feel at war with it.  Even at the weight I am right now I can look in the mirror or take pictures with my family and enjoy being present and represented.  I know that I am more than a body and I know it a deep level. I am a soul.  I dwell in a body.  I want to take very good care of that vehicle so that I can enjoy health and so that I can be here awhile to serve those I love.  I do not see condemnation though when I look in the mirror.

~Powerlessness~

I followed a very strict regime with my nutrition  and I got very strong results.  I found a method that worked for me and my body and it’s medical needs and the results were solid.  I no longer feel powerless over this issue.  The self talk I am experiencing in my head tells me that I can overcome all of this and that the results I see are really in my own hands.  Living from a place of empowerment is a very different reality.

~Fear~

I am not afraid of losing relationships, particularly my relationship with God over this issue.  I am no longer seeing steps backward as indicators that I may be facing a lake of fire for my eternal destiny.  Instead I have found ways to experience oneness with my Creator and feel the inescapable grasp of unconditional love in the midst of what before would have felt like very low moments.

I have always been taught that perfect love casts out fear but I have never been certain how to apply that to my inner world.  I have also always been told that kindness is what leads to transformation (change, repentance etc.).  I have not known how to actualize the power of kindness or love towards myself.  In fact I am still very much learning.

The experience of losing fear for me was at first unsettling.  In fact, much of the steps backward have been made in an attempt to adjust to the serene reality that settles in when the intensity of negative motivations and emotions wane. At first I have had to learn not to fight that reality off, but to sit and dwell in the silence of it.  In the silence, I have found that I have encountered an eternal unconditional force of love and it changes everything.  As I abide there, my mind it’s becoming much more disciplined. Words of kindness, positive motivation and empowering love are filling my self talk and that is slowly creating a new motivation.

I do want to taste transformation. I long to live it, swim in it, and become it.  I want to see the same results in my life that I was trying to ascertain via fear but I want them to come from a different source.  I want them to emerge from that place of unconditional love.

Nutrition, health and wellness remain very important to me in fact I am learning that many of the drives towards these things are part of the core of who I am and that my struggles to seek them out in full were largely coming from a hunger that is deeply rooted in my soul for wellness and for transformation.  At the end of the day, I am not sure what final results I will get in my journey towards health.  But I do know that I want to keep trying but I want to do so from a place of self-care and self-nurture.

Prior to this year, I would have looked back and judged myself as worthy or unworthy based on my physical progress.  In no way do I wish to diminish my goals in fitness, they are actually more important to me now than ever before.  However, I can trace growth in a totally different way now.

I know what runs through my mind in the midst of what might look like failure on the surface.   That stream of consciousness has completely changed and I do not think it is even possible for me adopt my former ways of being and thinking.

And that is where I see growth.

It is a growth that I truly hope and believe will continue to manifest in my physical transformation. Even more importantly, it is a growth in love that I deeply hope and pray will spill over into the lives of others.


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