A Journey Toward Self-Love: Science & God Working Together
Written by: Kaila S.
I have had a tumultuous relationship with my body for as long as I can remember. For most of my life I have felt uncomfortable in my skin, in my body. I have always felt like the “fat friend”, have always felt like the most unattractive person in a group. I have always wondered hat my life would be like if I was just a little bit skinnier, a little bit more attractive. My whole life, I have watched beautiful women whom I love and respect despise their bodies and try everything to change them – over and over and over again. I, along with virtually every woman in our culture and time, have been bombarded by media that makes fun of anyone who doesn’t look “perfect” and idealizes bodies that are impossible to achieve – the reality that women live in this culture is so harmful and destructive. We’re constantly told that our value lies solely in what we look like, solely in maintaining an unchanging, unageing, unattainable appearance, and thus, inevitably, that we’re not good enough when we don’t/can’t meet these standards.
These penetrating thoughts had intensified over the years and really hit an all-time high over the last few. Over a period of a few months, I realized that these thoughts were taking over all of my mind space, and had worked their way into defining my worth. I couldn’t focus on my accomplishments, dreams, or relationships because I was constantly worried about how I looked. I thought everyone else was thinking about how I looked too. I thought about how my friends and family were affected by what I looked like – that perhaps they were embarrassed by being seen with me. I thought that my life would be better if I was just a little bit prettier, a little bit skinnier.
I realized that I didn’t want to live my whole life being at war with myself. I knew there had to be a way to live free of the thoughts that had taken over my life. The body-positivity women that I followed on Instagram had found a way to be confident and to love their bodies, and so I knew there was hope. Realizing that this was an issue that I didn’t want, or have to live with, was the first step toward healing, and I have no doubt it was God’s quiet whisperings that led me to take the next step.
So I reached out for help. I found a therapist online (I am so thankful to betterhelp.com for leading me to a therapist who loves Jesus and is an expert in these types of issues) and I took a deep breath (or maybe more like a million deep breaths). I shared my story with my new therapist. I cried. I told her I didn’t want to live like this anymore…that I didn’t want to live through the rest of my 30s, 40s, and 50s hating my appearance…that I didn’t want these thoughts about my body to be in control anymore. My therapist told me that this was:
1) Not uncommon
2) Very addressable
I breathed a sigh of relief to have said it all out loud for the very first time and to finally have a teammate in the fight I would start embarking on.
I learned so much through our therapy sessions; too much to possibly describe in this short blog post. But I would like to let you in on a few things that totally changed the game moving forward for me:
- Our thoughts are moldable and modifiable. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”. We so often trust that what our minds tell us is truth, but that’s not what the Bible tells us. Testing our thoughts against the Truth of His Word, and taking them captive, is an important practice to show us where we need to make adjustments to the thoughts that we’re believing to be true.
- The enemy is the one who alters our thoughts and causes them to misalign with the Word of God. He’s smart and cunning. And he uses the most vulnerable points in our lives to try to turn us from God. My therapist and I talked about how the enemy uses times when we’re not paying attention to strike. 1 Peter 5:8 says “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” He is trying to make us doubt ourselves, and in doing so, we doubt God. Acknowledging these thoughts as tactics that the enemy was using, and not my OWN thoughts (or GOD’s) was a powerful tool in fighting against them.
- God calls me beautiful and lovely just the way I am. God calls us “…His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works… (Ephesians 2:10).” So, aligning my thoughts with His is an act of obedience to Him (“Do NOT lean on your own understanding” – Proverbs 4:23; and, “Do NOT be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” – Romans 12:2). Thus, this journey toward self-love is not a selfish endeavor, but one that is allowing me to strive for obedience to the One who created me. Who I am to say to that what God calls His workmanship is less than the uniquely beautiful creation He designed and made?
I hadn’t ever considered bringing these thoughts to God – for some reason it never entered my mind to involve Him. I have learned that inviting God into the small, dark places in my life is not only what He wants, but what will ultimately bring me the peace I’ve been searching for. So YES, God is working and YES, He is changing me. But also YES, it’s okay to ask for help from the people that God has called for that very purpose. I am confident that God gave me my therapist and worked in her life (long before we met), to give me the answers I desperately needed and to walk with me on the journey.
When I invited God into this struggle, everything changed. But I wouldn’t have gotten there without my therapist. I now have tools to use to help me change the thoughts – practical solutions, techniques, and lots of things to work on. This hard work of therapy involves both evidenced-based practices (i.e., techniques that have been researched and have been found to yield positive results) and faith. Science AND God working together. As a scientist myself, this makes so much sense to me. God created our brains – He knows the way they work and how they can be changed. He has called people to study His creation (the brain) so that they can help people like me, like you. He is in control of all of it.
I also know that this isn’t the end. God doesn’t always heal in the ways that we want. He doesn’t work within our human standards or timing. But do I believe He is working a miracle all the same? 100%. I have a long way to go – this will be a lifelong struggle for me, but one that I am now committed to fighting head-on. I want to be better for my niece and nephew, for the next generation of girls and boys who should grow up learning to love their bodies and themselves and not hearing people around them speak badly about the beautiful creations God has made. But now I know I’m not fighting the battle alone. And I hope my story can help others realize that we don’t need to live with thoughts that don’t align with what God says about us – there is another way, a BETTER way! Everyday I’m getting closer to the goal of actually believing that when God made me (and when He made you – when He made all of us) He called me “GOOD” (Genesis 1). This isn’t solely a matter of pursuing improved mental health, though that is part of it. But it is also a matter of faith and obedience. This is a story of learning to love myself and also of learning to bring all of the pieces of myself together – the scientist, the believer, the sensitive heart, the hard-worker. To use all of the tools that God has given me to believe that my worth is in Him.
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