My Booty and God’s Glory

I pull up my jeans and they stretch over my thighs, a bit snug. Immediately my frenemies, those words that have been with me these long thirty-something years, come for a visit. I sigh and let their hurtful words wash over my mind. “You need to lose weight. You aren’t worth anything. You are so ugly,” they whisper in their mocking voice.

I head to a party and I see her. She looks great, and rather than being happy for her, rather than saying the words I know would make her day, I invite my insidious pals back into my head for a pow-wow. “I need to cut back. I can’t enjoy this food. I have to start running again. I’m no good,” they shriek with increasing volume.

I push the grocery cart through the gauntlet of magazines. The latest and greatest new perfect-looking celebrity has lost weight. Doesn’t she look amazing? The glossy photos call to me, their siren song of, “You’re not good enough. If only you’d try this one thing.….”

And so it goes. 

Maybe you’re thinking, what does she have to worry about, she’s slim. I’m so tired of thin girls crying about your weight. I hear you.

But I want to point this out: SHAME KNOWS NO SIZE.

Shaming words don’t care if you are size two or twenty-two, size four or forty-four. They speak to us the same. 

Shame has been with me each and every day. Until now.

I’m done. I’m so done.

I’m declaring war on my selfish, self-focused pride. The pride that says my worth is tied to my weight, rather than to the One who died for me.

I’m done looking at myself, instead of at Him. As Tim Keller says, “By comparing ourselves to other people and trying to make ourselves look better than others, we are boasting. Trying to recommend ourselves, trying to create a self-esteem resume because we are desperate to fill our sense of inadequacy and emptiness. The ego is so busy. So busy all the time.” {The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness}

My ego has been too busy and it has left me deflated and exhausted. Looking at the Gospel and God’s glory, on the other hand, leaves me feeling full.

Because the essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less….A truly gospel-humble person is not a self-hating person or a self-loving person, but a gospel-humble person.” {Tim Keller, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness}

I want that. I want to be neither a self-hating person or a self-loving person. I want to be a gospel-humble person.

Here is my prescription:

1. Take a good hard look at the Gospel and God’s glory. Let His glory expand and let Him become BIG in my heart and life. Worship HIM instead of myself.

2. Focus on what really matters…eternity, and not my booty.

2. Take those thoughts captive. Kick them out.And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Romans 12:2

3. Believe this: My worth is NOT equal to my weight. Look to Christ for my worth and nothing else. “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:14

4. Walk in freedom! Live in the light and love of God’s amazing grace!

What does this mean for me? A lot more grace for my body. A lot more acceptance. A lot more, well, maybe a lot more booty.
If you see me, my booty might be a bit bigger, but so is my view of God’s glory. 

Do you struggle with these things? Do you want to join me? What is YOUR story? Please share in the comments!

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*I am not saying that being healthy and exercising is bad or wrong! Not at all. I’m simply sharing that over-focusing on outward appearance can be.*

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  • Rakel Thurman

    Joy, first….thanks…you hit on something we all struggle with….oh, yes we do…then, I just wanted you to know that I think you are one of the most beautiful women I know….beautiful in and out….Jesus in you…!!

    • Joy

      Thanks Rakel. I’m so blessed to have a friend like you. :)

  • Juliewilliams920

    I lived for years with my value and my worth affixed to my size and weight. It was a dead end. I let others value of me be defined by the same measure also. I hit my deepest low at 400 lbs and it was at that darkest hour that the Lord loved on me, showed me and wrote his truths on my heart and did a deep, deep work of who I was in Him. For the first time I knew the truth and no one could take it from me. There was no turning back and I was never the same. It was backwards from how I thought it would be. I thought I would become free, lose the weight and learn to love me. But God loved me at my biggest, His love changed me and I became free. Than I lost the weight. It has been a 10 year journey and I am so grateful for Him reaching down when I was in my pit and loving me when I found myself unlovable. It was truly unfathomable to me to know value and beauty that wasn’t attached to a number. I knew for the first time I was more than a number. That was life changing! I didn’t want to stay 400 lbs and knew that wasn’t His best for me. He loved on me in such a sweet way during that season. He gave me hope when there appeared to be no proof of any. Today I 230 lbs lighter and so grateful for His grace, His love and Him never giving up on me. It isn’t about being skinny or perfect. I will never be that but I am walking in grace, healing, newness and victory.

    • Joy

      Julie,
      Wow. This story. Thank you. This is so beautiful and I am touched by our God who loves you so much. You bring sweet tears from my eyes. I know this comment will bless so many here. Thank you for enriching this space with your beauty.

      • Juliewilliams920

        Thank you, Joy! To God be the Glory!!! I would never be where I am without Him and His goodness, constant love and grace. I am so grateful.

    • Kathy

      What an amazing story of His tender love! Have you written an article on this for any blogs, Julie? I think it would touch many. Praise God for your story!!

      • Juliewilliams920

        I haven’t but thank you for encouraging me to do so. I remind myself sometimes that we all have a story to tell and I need to tell mine. Thank you!

      • Joy

        Totally agree!!

  • Melissa Warren

    As someone that was delivered by God’s merciful hand from eating disorders and self hating, THANK YOU! I shared my story and it was very hard, but prayerfully my story will help other beautiful women.

    • Joy

      Oh Melissa, how I wish we could get a cup of coffee and talk about all that God has done in our lives. I would love to hear about this miracle that God performed in you life. Thank you for sharing. {Where did you share your story? Is it something I could read?}

  • Traci

    Thank you so much for writing this! Even in the church the comparison in our culture is can be suffocating! I’m a size 14 and even though I don’t love my body, and I wish I were a size 2, I’ve learned to not be so hung up on what size I am. I believe God does want us to be healthy…but he wants my heart WAY more than he cares about my size! He wants me to be kind to my kids and my husband, he wants me to walk and talk with him every second of my day, constantly aware of his presence. Thank you for reminding us of what is most important!

    • Joy

      Suffocating is such a good word. Yes, God wants us to be healthy and YES!! He wants our hearts!! You say it so well!! Thank you, Traci, for adding your beautiful voice to the conversation. :) Walk in freedom today, sister!!

  • Kristina

    Thank you for this post and all of your posts actually! You are someone that I most definitely look up to as a mentor! I have four young children, the oldest who is 5 and the youngest who is 11 months (all girls). I have been pregnant for several years in a row (none are twins). I have gained lots of weight in these past years and just decided to start to workout not to lose weight exactly but to become more healthy for my family. The other day I was working out, with two precious children attached to me, and I felt something inside me say, “You are so vain. All you want is to be thin and look pretty. Is this really something that is godly?” I had to really think about it and sure some of my heart would like to look a little better in my jeans as well but more than anything I want to be more active and healthy so that I can keep up with my sweet family and all that God has called us to do. So weather the Devil is whispering to you that you have gained weight or you don’t look as good as so and so or even that your motives aren’t pure take it back to the cross and to God’s glory! It is all about Him in the end!

    • Joy

      Kristina,
      Thank you for sharing these thoughts. It can be so difficult to weed out what is vanity and what is us truly wanting to be healthy, can’t it?! It sounds like you are doing an amazing job with those kiddos. They have such a wise mama. Way to go. :)

  • http://www.servingjoyfully.com/ Crystal

    I will agree with you on one thing–shame knows no size. I grew up “skinny.” I got all the way through high school never having to think twice about my weight. I was a good, healthy weight. I didn’t think about needing to lose it, or that I wish this or that was different about my weight or size. I never thought about my size. However, I was still an awkward, insecure girl inside. Now that I am WAY larger than I was in high school, I cringe a bit when skinny girls criticize their own weight, but I agree with you that those insecure thoughts happen regardless of weight.

    • http://www.servingjoyfully.com/ Crystal

      PS–I really agree with your post, I just know that one firsthand…

    • Joy

      Yep, you are right Crystal. No matter what size or season, we still have thoughts to deal with, to take captive, and to combat.
      I wish I could go back to my high school self and tell her this stuff! :) Thanks for sharing your heart.

  • Allison Thomas

    Thank you for your transparency you beautiful friend.

    • Joy

      Love you, girl.

  • Jennifer @ A Heart For My Home

    Thank you Joy for this post. You have given me much to think about. I was always skinny growing up, not just skinny but super skinny. My husband used to say he felt like he would break me when he hugged me. Needless to say he doesn’t have to worry about that anymore. Everyone that sees me say I look great but you know what I don’t feel great. Not about my weight. My clothes are too tight and barely fit and I am my heaviest weight I have been right now (even more than when I was nine months pregnant either time). So yes, I struggle with poor self image, and would love to be free from what the number on the scales say.

    • Joy

      Jennifer, it sounds like those shaming words are still getting at you. I am praying for you, that you would be able to turn away from those words, and look instead to the One who made you and loves you so much. If everyone says you look great, I think you should believe them!! :) {I am SO not undermining how difficult that is, by the way, just want to encourage you!}

  • Amy Reinecke

    Oh girl, what an amazing post. And what many of us need to hear. I’ve been there, left that place for a little while and recently have found myself there again. Comparing my self worth to the number on the scale. Truth is, that number doesn’t matter, but the reasons I’m shoving food down my throat non-stop does. It’s time to go to God with my troubles instead of the pantry. Naturally when we give it up to Him, He will take good care of us… and I’d venture to say our booty’s won’t get bigger… but smaller.
    If you haven’t read Made to Crave I really recommend it. It’s so amazing.
    Thank you for sharing your struggle, and just so you know, you are not alone.

  • Penelope Dorsey

    Whether you’re 30 something or 60 something…shame and negative self talk shows no boundaries. If one’s own self loathing isn’t bad enough, I still tend to rehearse any thoughtless negative comments made to me about my physical appearance like looping CD!

    I’m a Gramma and desperately want my 13 year old granddaughter to grow up free from the ball and chain of negative self chatter. So, at the right time, I have just the right gift for my “Michaela” It’s a necklace of “Wearable Truth”. It’s teal blue green and attached to some leather string and the card says:

    You are beautiful…
    Your life is not defined by what others
    have done to you. (Or said to you!)

    Like this Sea Glass you have been
    Used
    Empty
    Discarded
    Broken
    Cast Adrift
    Lost at Sea
    Trampled
    Beaten
    Forgotten
    It’s true…those things happened.
    But it’s not who you are.
    You are…like the Sea Glass
    Seen
    Found
    Chosen
    Valued
    Beautiful
    Smooth from the journey
    Kept
    Treasured
    Enjoyed.

  • Kelly Renee Staton

    All we can really is first accept our body for what it is. Then do what we need to in order to care for it properly. Like moisturizing dry skin or drinking more water for overall better health and less appetite. Moving our body more enjoying the things it can do, trying new foods for fun enjoying a taste of everything instead of overindulging. Doing things give you a lift, like helping others or treating yourself to a favorite activity you haven’t done in a long time. Accepting and loving yourself for who you are makes it so much easier to take better care of yourself and makes it easier to be a blessing to others.

  • K

    Wow. I have just recently been researching and reading more about kicking body shaming to the curb. I literally only thought it was me who had thoughts of self hate on a constant loop. The scary part is I just realized these thoughts I have been having for nearly all my life were thoughts of hate. I would have never grouped myself with the people who hated themselves. Thank you for posting this. I loved reading something from a Kingdom mindset. I feel like this is a huge piece missing from the church and from empowering women.

  • Anastasia

    Oh You, You wonderful You! Well, I’ll give the shortest version I can! I just had my 5th baby-blessing in June. This pregnancy was different on one level – I had never gained so much or swelled so much before…ever! I prayed a lot (!!) through it all! I would go stretches of weeks when I was sheltered within His thoughts toward me, and then I would enter a very “self-ish” time. After I had my baby girl my body just wasn’t bouncing back like it had done 4 other times. So, there were tears…prayers…and finally, Joy, freedom like I had never known…and quite possibly ever expected! (During my third pregnancy I also gained wonderful bulging varicose veins on one of my legs…so the “issues” even go there!) I don’t exactly understand all of the details of the miracle that God worked within me, but I FELT IT! I knew it was happening! It was glorious! Now, just recently, I have had to remind myself and the Enemy of the miracle God has worked because I am not going back to that 30 something, year old bondage! So, I “AMEN!” your every word! And, you’re beautiful, Lady!

  • Lindy

    I have recently felt convicted about my eating…NOT my weight. I am slightly overweight
    . But I’m focused on my gluttony…my SIN before the Lord. I need to treat my body as a temple. I would not be a good sister in Christ if I belittle and judge you OR if I tell you not to worry about it. You have to pray and seek God on the matter. We all know what the Bible says about gluttony, and often we gain weight due to that, eating non-nutritional foods, and being slothful…usually it’s one of the three or a combination. For me, it’s a combination. I don’t want to joke about eating something extra that I shouldn’t…it’s sin…and everytime it’s in the Bible, it’s right there with drinking too much. Most people agree it’s not good to get drunk, but the Bible always puts gluttony with it. It’s hard for us to live in this world and not to be persuaded by the world’s standards. We have to remember who we want to please, and hopefully, that’s God. He knows our heart. If we are not being faithful in the area of our health, then we need to get on our knees and seek God to make it right…not to lose weight, but to honor Him! Thank you for sharing your journey!

    • Lindy

      I lost a friend to eating disorders. She had only graduated high school about 2 weeks before she died of heart-failure in her home. Everyone told her how good she looked, but it came at a price. I only wish women would stop being concerned (preaching to myself here too) with what the world thinks of their outward beauty, and know that God made us that way! Sure we may have done some things to change the way God made us: gain weight, do things to cause wrinkles, etc, but we are still God’s creation! It’s almost a slap in God’s face when we talk bad about our looks…it’s one thing to be unhappy with our overeating or indulging….because it was SIN, NOT because the world won’t think we look as good. If our thoughts are directed in Him, He will give us joy and strength to overcome our shortcomings! But while we’re in this battle, let’s make sure our thoughts about our looks are because we don’t want to do things to our bodies as a result of sin….let not our thoughts focus on how we look to the world!

  • http://www.ps67.blogspot.com/ Daniel and Sarah

    “Believe this: My worth is NOT equal to my weight.” YES, this is what I so often need to remind myself of… and that my husband is quick to redirect my thoughts back to. I can relate to everything you wrote. I have always been on the thinner side, but I also have always struggled with these thoughts, and this has gotten harder for me after having babies. It is helpful to know that I am not alone in this struggle! Stepping forward with you… in freedom.

  • Annette Welburn

    Wow, Joy! Such beautiful honesty, sweet lady! Our beauty should come primarily from within, and you only confirm here how lovely you are! Thank you for your transparency. May God use this to encourage and heal many hearts and draw them more toward His heart! ♥ And for you, Joy, please know that it would be impossible for you to not be beautiful inside and out!

  • sspunlimited

    Thank you Joy. I needed to hear this, I have been walking around a lot lately listening to those same thoughts you mentioned above.

  • Kelly Hallahan

    Girl, sounds like we’re on a similar journey- can’t wait to do life with you in Uganda! Pride. Ugh! It’s so true that the more I stare at Him, the easier it is to see myself in proper view! Love you. Thank you for your courage!

  • Jo

    I’m one of those “lucky” ones who loses all the baby weight and has everyone making jealous comments. I’m SO grateful to hear from someone who understands that shame knows no size! I feel like I can’t mention my insecurities to anyone and your post is so encouraging & challenging! Thanks!

  • http://soaringeagle8.blogspot.com/ Julie

    Thank you for this post.

  • Terri

    I love this post. I am dealing with the same struggle right now. I just lost 30 lbs…and I’m exhausted with the strict, crazy eating routine I’m on. I want to take a break, but in a week I’ve gained a few pounds back. It has me in a terrible mood and feeling completely lousy about myself. Thanks for sharing this – I want this mindset, too – it’s going to be my prayer going forward. :)

  • http://myfreshlybrewedlife.com/ Barbie

    Thank you for this post. I’ve struggled with my weight for many years. I have a good 60lbs to lose if I am to be a healthy weight. Now that I have entered mid-life and the process of hormones change things, it’s been hard. I have been somewhat paralyzed by the fear that I can’t do it, so moving forward has , well it hasn’t happened. I am still looking for ways to make small changes, which I hope will add up to a big success one day. Blessings!

  • Lanette Haskins

    I so needed this, especially after a trip to the mall (and every other store that I could think of) to try on jeans for an upcoming Conference where I’ll be working in our publishing booth! Instead of being excited about my trip I came home defeated and deflated once again.
    It’s difficult to speak out about how I feel about my weight/body issues because most people look at me and say, “You don’t need to lose weight!”, or “You so CAN wear skinny jeans!” but that’s not what I see when I look in the mirror. I haven’t worn shorts in over 20 years, haven’t worn a bathing suit in several years and only around certain people, I just can’t bring myself to do it.
    I want to “walk in freedom”, I SO want to focus on what really matters!
    Thanks for posting this, I’m going to print out your prescription as a daily reminder to look past myself and to strive to be a reflection of the One who died for me :)

  • http://williamswhimsies.blogspot.com/ rebmoorewilliams

    Just this morning, I was literally in tears taking my daughter to school because, besides having a very rough morning, I felt fat and I couldn’t do anything with my hair, we have church directory pictures tomorrow and I badly need a trim and color touch-up. God reminded me of the verses of how He cares for the birds and lilies- how much more he cares for me. And how they are beautiful in their natural glory, just as he created them. My first thought was, “But they don’t have 2 inch dark roots!” But once again, God reminded me that He thinks I’m beautiful just as He created me, even with no make-up, a bad hair day and with my poochy mama belly. It was an effort, but I began to thank Him for all the good things He has given me and trying to pull my focus from my vain pride and self-focused thoughts. I am so guilty of comparing myself to the other moms at school, or friends at church, or sisters-in-law, both thinking, well at least I’m not as chubby as her, but also, I wish I was as thin as her, or had cuter clothes, etc. etc. I realized that if I have a good attitude and allow the joy of Jesus to shine through my face, I will be much more attractive than any woman who is beautiful on the outside, to the world’s standards, but doesn’t have God’s love in her heart. Of course, this all hits as I’m trying to get back into exercising and eating better- a constant struggle to loose those last 10 or 15 pounds of baby weight. Thanks for your honesty and thoughts- I will have to check out that Tim Keller book.

  • Denise

    My worth might not be equal to my weight, but on a whole different scale my weight is, without question, central to my health. And as my numbers on the scale have decreased from 250 to 201, my health numbers have dramatically improved.

    We need to want to be fit for the RIGHT reasons. Not for the ones you so rightly condemned, as that is ungodly. My reasons are for my health and for my husband, which brings glory to God. It is a good thing to get fit and it is a good thing to become less self absorbed. Both are worthy goals.

    • Joy

      I agree with what you! A healthy weight and a healthy mindset are both so important. I think you are spot on! Thanks for contributing.

  • Mvpost

    This all so true yet so very hard, know I understand the life of a hermit. It seems it is the only way to constantly be in prayer and focusing on God.

  • Stacey Collins Wolanek

    Wow!! I believe this but just cant seem to live it!! EVERY day I look at myself and say the exact words you stated, “I need to loose weight. I’m ugly. Everyone must look at me and think she’s fat.” I am now on the Whole 30 diet and starving just so I can loose weight. I really want to loose weight to be healthier but I tie my self worth to my weight. GLad to know others struggle with this. How do we make the “voices” go away?

  • Anna Wegner

    Thanks for sharing this. :) I think this is something that all women struggle with- no matter their size.

  • TheLangGangLoves.com

    I have written and rewritten posts like this– but end up deleting them because I feel like women will judge no matter my size. I recently posted something on a healthy eating FB page saying that I was struggling and I had dozens of women tell me that I have nothing to worry about since I am a size they wish they could be. You got it right when you said that shame knows no size. We are all fighting our own battles.

  • Christina@toshowthemjesus.com

    I read The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness recently. How freeing! I wish I had read it sooner! I’m right there with you in this journey. Thanks for sharing your heart and the prescription. Blessings!

  • Lauren

    Thanks so much for being open by sharing this and getting to the heart of the issue. It really hits home for me.

  • Christina

    It seems as missionaries we put our health last well now I am 2 months pregnant and 230! Not a good thing! Praying for a safe and healthy baby when I am 44!
    Thanks for being real!

  • D.

    Thank you, Joy for your words of wisdom. Golly, don’t all we mothers know what it feels like to have a few kids and our body shape/size changes so dramatically. Tucking in the muffin top so it doesn’t look too bad!!! Wearing a cute vest to hide the bulge!! :) And yes, don’t we also know “those” moms that have had a handful of kids and still pull off a bikini!! I believe when we spend too much time adorning ourselves it’s really an issue of wanting attention. Why must we fit into a size 0 or 2 skinny jeans? Naturally so someone can say, “Wow! You look amazing for having had ___ kids!!!” or “Your outfit is so cute; you always look so put together.”
    I am reminded of Proverbs 31:30, “Beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” I know that if I am truly seeking after God’s glory, my outward appeal will not be my focus nor will others be distracted by my appearance (since they won’t be able to help seeing Christ in me). As John the Baptist wrote, “He must become greater and I must become less.”