Guilt. Shame. Two words that are often confused to mean the same thing. Ryan and I watched a sermon online yesterday that was about guilt and shame, and how the two of them differ. I really enjoyed this sermon, and this post is about one thing that came to my mind from this post.
First, let me clarify on what the difference in guilt and shame is. The preacher who we listened to on Sunday said guilt is when you feel bad for doing something you know is wrong. Shame is feeling bad for not meeting your own expectations you set for yourself. For example, when you were in high school and your parents were gone, you knew you weren’t supposed to have people over, but you had friends over anyways. Afterwards, you might have felt guilty because you know you did something you weren’t supposed to do. You might also feel shame because you had an expectation of yourself to be an obedient, trustworthy child, and you felt like you let your parents and yourself down. See the difference?
We can also feel shame for things that aren’t bad things or things we should not feel shame for at all. People often feel shame about the house they live in, the car they drive, the clothes they wear, the amount of money they make, their body, or even just the food they eat. This might sound crazy, but in a world where it seems like you can only be happy if you have the biggest house, nicest car, most fashionable clothes, most perfect, fit body, and eat all organic food, it obviously makes sense why people feel so much unneeded shame.
The one aspect I want to focus on that I think people often feel unneeded shame for is our bodies. It’s no secret that every type of social media out there pushes for men and women to have flawless, “hot”, “sexy” bodies. The world makes us think that your body has something wrong with it if you have any fat on it or if every muscle is not perfectly toned. Well, I have a newsflash for all of you. Please read this carefully.
You are beautiful.
You are perfect.
You were created by an all powerful and mighty Creator, and you were made in his image!
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14
Now I am not writing this because I am perfect, and I have it all figured out. I too struggle with having negative thoughts about my body at times, and honestly, I feel pretty confident that almost everyone today feels some kind of insecurity about their body. It is hard not to feel this whenever you constantly see actors, actresses, and models who seem to have perfect bodies. If you go on Pinterest you will see plenty of pictures with barely clothed women and men who look like they never eat anything unhealthy and they spend five hours in a gym a day. This is not reality. Besides, when did the point of living become to look like the world wants us to look? When did it become so important for everyone to think we have a “perfect” body?
Reality is, we are made the way God wants us to be made! If you are healthy, then be happy with the body you have and honor God with your body! It is not honoring God when we look in the mirror and critique every little thing about our body. (Come on, I think we can all admit we have done it.) If you think you are at an unhealthy weight, such as being overweight, try to get to a healthy weight by eating a little healthier and being active, but don’t beat yourself up over it. If you think you are a little underweight, then try to add in some more higher calorie foods and gain healthy weight, but again, don’t beat yourself up over it. We are God’s handiwork. We should not critique his creation. He made you just the way He wants you, and if the all powerful Lord over the Universe thinks you are made perfectly, I can guarantee you He is right.
So how do we stop feeling shame for our bodies in a world that makes it so easy to feel shame for our appearance? I don’t think we can do it on our own. We as humans are naturally sinful. We must ask the Lord to help us in this. We need to pray that he will open our eyes to the beauty of his creation, which includes all people, and ourselves. Ask him to help you get over any insecurity you have in your body, and to help you focus on using your body to serve him. I do not believe it is healthy or right for us to spend so much time worrying about our bodies.
From a personal perspective, I am someone who was called fat as a little girl. As I grew up people told me I was too skinny. I was told all the time in high school I needed to eat more. All of these things really hurt my feelings. When people tell you these things, it is hard not to feel insecure. If you have heard any of these comments, or something like it, I am truly sorry. I hope you can move on from this, and not let these comments bother you anymore. Remember, we are not trying to please men here on Earth, but only God.
Now, here are some tips I have for you to help make other people in your life feel secure about their bodies. Because remember, it is not just women who struggle with this. I honestly think men struggle with having shame about their body too as they feel pressure to look a certain way, just like women feel.
- Compliment those close to you. Tell them they look pretty/handsome.
- Especially compliment your spouse and tell them how beautiful or handsome they are. Ryan tells me I’m beautiful every day, and this makes me feel SO GOOD! Your spouse wants to know you think they are attractive, so tell him or her. And tell them often!
- Focus on what you like about your body. Quit critiquing everything!
- Pray, pray, pray!
- Don’t look at pictures of barely clothed people because then you are more likely to feel pressured to look the way society thinks is so “perfect.
I have learned that I am never going to look like a supermodel today. I don’t have six-pack abs that you can see, every muscle in my body is not perfectly toned, and my stomach isn’t as flat as a cutting board. But that is okay. I work out very hard most days of the week, I eat healthy for the majority of the time, and I feel like I am taking care of my body. I know I am healthy, and I am just obviously not made to look like some of the people on the Internet or television. Everyone is built different, and I’m built, well, like me. 🙂 My God thinks I’m beautiful, my husband thinks I’m beautiful, and that’s enough for me.
It breaks my heart that we are all so tough on ourselves when it shouldn’t be this way. Remember, our bodies are not something we should feel shame for. Our bodies are made in the Lord’s image, and that is definitely something to feel proud of!
No questions today, just feel free to leave your comments and feelings. I would love to hear your thoughts.