[editor’s note: This is a guest post by Jackie Dixon.I love, love, love Jackie’s outlook on body stewardship and think it’s such an important topic. Thank you for sharing your story, Jackie!]
Eight years ago I gained 25 pounds in five weeks.
And let’s just say, it wasn’t muscle mass.
I had gone to the south of France– the beautiful city of Nice– for a summer study abroad where I was shadowing neurologists in a hospital and learning about the French medical system.
I have long been interested in health and medicine, but I had a secret motive for being there as well–I was fascinated by the chic French female, and the French paradox of being able to eat heavy foods but remain slim and fit.
So I figured I would live the French way while I was over there and mimic their eating habits– and of course I expected the same results!
Well I was in for quite the surprise. Trying to live in a way that I didn’t fully understand and that didn’t work for my body threw me into a tailspin, and instead of becoming slim and chic, I started heading to the pastry shop every morning on my way to the hospital.
I would buy three, sometimes four pastries, and devour them before the rounds began. I was ashamed and embarrassed– but I was also absolutely ravenous. I felt out of control and I had no idea what to do.
Fast forward five weeks later, and I was no longer fitting in the pants I had brought with me. So I started wearing the one elastic pair of exercise pants I had brought with me every day. When the other students went to the beach, I stayed fully clothed.
Oh I wish I had known then what I know now.
God has taken me on such a journey with my body. And while I spent the few years that followed desperately trying to lose the weight by trying every diet imaginable, I never expected what God was going to teach me about my body and my soul and His love for me.
What He taught me was the power of the lies created by body shame.
What is body shame? It’s one of the horrible results of the original sin–when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and suddenly became aware that they were naked, the first thing they did was cover and hide their bodies and then hide from God in shame.
How did Adam and Eve’s leafy garments in the garden play into my French pastry disaster?
Because I didn’t understand how good God’s plan for the human body is; no one had ever taught me. Culture certainly hadn’t. All I believed was that in order to be lovable, I needed to stay thin. And I had failed. And now, all I wanted to do was hide.
But God had so much more for me. And it wasn’t in a diet, although I did finally learn how to eat in a way that gives my body ultimate nutrition and daily delights so that I never feel deprived. What He taught me was that my worth and my identity are not in my body. If it is destroyed, I’m still the same to Him. And I’m still the same in Him. And He will not love me one iota less.
What I learned was how to step out of body shame –how to let God love me completely as I was and yet also dream again of all He had for me in my wellness.
What I discovered is what I now call body stewardship. That as a Christian, because of Christ’s sacrifice, my body is now owned by God and is to be used for His purposes. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? For you have been bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body.”
So often Christian culture teaches us that we don’t need to worry about our body. Because it’s inner beauty that counts. And that is so true. And yet because our faith is based on the reality of the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ, the physical body still plays an important role.
What does that look like for you? Are you timidly considering or boldly entering motherhood, and about to sacrifice your body to bring forth new life? Are you dedicating your body to the hard work of providing for or protecting your family? Are you sharing your body lovingly with your spouse? Are you caring for your body in a way that will make it most able at any time to do whatever God calls you to?
Now eight years later, I have just had our first child. My body is leaner than ever, but that’s not the biggest difference between what I’m living now and what was happening back in Nice. The biggest difference is the peace I have, and the sense of purpose– the reality that my body is not mine to hate, not mine to mistreat, not mine too brag about, but God’s– to be used however He wants, whenever He calls me.
Jackie Dixon runs a company called VLX, where she coaches women into the wellness and freedom God destined them for. Her vision is for Christian women everywhere to steward their bodies for whatever purposes God calls them to. Find her at JackieDixon.org and in the VLX Bombshells Facebook group, and download a free guide to the seven steps to steward your body at BodyStewardship.com.
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