Body Shaming, Politics & Authority

How often do you wrestle with an issue? How often are you pushed out of your comfort zone or willing to reflect on a bias you hold true?

In the last six months,  I’ve gained more info on topics I knew very little about.  As an American citizen who thought she was informed, I realized I hadn’t really done my homework in previous experiences. I’ve done my best to really identify how new information might change my perspective.

Tensions have risen, relationships have become more fragile and tears have been shed. Yet, I know all the effort is not for naught.  The best way to continue the conversation is share our stories: To read and listen to one another and to speak the truth in love.

A few issues have been on my heart and mind in recent weeks and it’s time for me to address them the best way I know how to: the written word. Each could easily be their own blog post, but I am also feeling a bit scattered, so this is a different kind of post for me: shorter reflections and food for my own thought and yours.

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“You’re so skinny.”

“You don’t have to worry, you can eat whatever you want.”

“You need to put more fat on those bones.”

All of these are phrases I have heard multiple times in my young life. I never really thought of it in a negative way, but indeed, it’s still body shaming. I competed in a sport that created the temptation for eating disorders. More than once I was part of interventions for girls who gave into that temptation.

I know many people who experience the other end of this spectrum as they struggle with not feeling good or confident enough because they are shapely, with curves and figures.  They are different than the person next door or the person on television, who they admire.

Just because I look certain way doesn’t mean I don’t care or shouldn’t need to care for my own health. I look a certain way because of genetics, ultimately, how God created me.

Yet, why are we so discontent with what God has created?

Why do we hold each other to impossible standards?

Why do we think too fat or too skinny isn’t good enough?

I admire those who take care of the bodies they have been given, strive for healthy eating habits and attempt exercise in any form, regardless of how they look. It’s a constant struggle for all of us, regardless of weight, so let’s help and encourage each other!

I’ve started preparing for VBS and the very first day we discuss Psalm 139. One of my favorite verses from this psalm is verse 13:

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb 

I am no knitter, but I know that each piece put together is unique. Each scarf, hat, blanket, etc…is different. God created each of us uniquely…how awesome is that? Of course we have similarities in some of our personality traits, skin color or height, but each person in this world is different and unique. Isn’t that something to be celebrated?

I want to do a better job of celebrating how God created me. I also want to do the same for those around me. Let’s celebrate who we are and be content, knowing that He uses each of us to serve and glorify Him. Let’s take care of the bodies He gives us, but let’s also not make them our idols.

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Speaking of idols, the sermon this last weekend in worship was about the 1st Commandment and making sure God came before anyone or anything else. One of idols mentioned, which I had not previously cared or noted was: politics.

In a very short time I went from pretty indifferent to above average informed in this realm. But I discovered that there was much more behind the politics. I still don’t understand or give much attention to political parties, debates and the ugly games played in the halls of Congress, but I do care about people.

So, how can I be an informed American citizen without coming across as too passionate?

How can I learn the issues and take a stance, without taking a side?

Is it possible to care about those in my country and speak up about it without being ridiculed?

Is it possible to be a Christian and not be asked to label myself a certain way, because that’s “the only possible avenue you can take in politics.”?

These are all questions I have been wrestling with for quite some time. But I don’t have answers and it’s hard to just let it go.

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One other topic caused me to pause before writing more. But my doubt subsided when I saw a respected leader tweet about it yesterday morning.

The 4th commandment calls us to honor our parents and all those in authority.  But what if those in authority aren’t doing much to deserve respect and even dishonoring themselves?

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I witnessed a very challenging situation this weekend. which caused discomfort and reflection. When I didn’t know what to do, I believe the Holy Spirit took from me what I couldn’t form the words to pray and helped me through it.  Sure enough, Sunday morning Bible study was from Galatians 2, where Paul confronts Peter. It was a reminder that speaking the truth in love to my Christian & non-Christian brothers and sisters is not at all easy, but it is necessary. Thankfully, we are covered in the mercy and forgiveness of Christ, when we fail to interact in ways that will bless others.

I saw Wonder Woman last night and one of the moments that stayed with me was when she said: “It is only love that can truly save the world.”  

Thankfully Jesus has already saved the world, because of his love and through his death on the cross.

I believe we are called to be uncomfortable in this earthly life. How else are we going to step out in the faith given to us and share the amazing love that Jesus has blessed us with?

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