” I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are your works and that my soul knows very well. ” – Psalms 139:14 NKJV
Sometimes it can be easy to forget who we really are. You may have been born again and are walking in the new life Jesus offered you yet all others can see is the old you.
Others may try to define you not by who you are as a child of God but by the things you have done, your accomplishments or lack thereof and even your looks.
My entire life, I have been more of a curvy woman. Since I was a little girl, I was always more on the heavier side of the scale than others my own age. I was also much taller; try being 5’7 at 9 years old it’s a real treat…
In the real world, kids can be cruel. They create names for everything. If you are small, you get called skinny or “stick” (because that’s just how tiny you are) but if you are more curvy or heavy, there’s a whole range of names. On the playground, those names stay with you for most of your life even after they no longer make sense because you’ve changed. That’s just children for you and for some kids, this horror of name-calling continues all throughout high school. You would think it would be different at home but even among family members, you can hear a range of comments referring to your looks on a regular basis.
My entire upbringing I had family members refer to my weight. Comments such as:
“Oh you’ve gained a lot of weight”
“It seems you’ve lost some weight”
“Aren’t you supposed to be on a diet?”
“You should think about going on a diet.”
“All that exercise and eating… you could use losing a few more pounds.”
Well, you get the picture. It seems as if I have spent my whole life in a constant battle not only with my weight but also with my identity in my mind. Every time someone saw me, the first comment would refer to my looks. Whether good or bad comments, the fact is that this was simply not a healthy way to nurture a young child then teenager then woman’s mind. The world often defines us by its own standards and by our looks. Even well meaning Christian church-goers define us this way. For some people, this can truly be paralyzing leading to isolation, anxiety, and/or depression not to mention eating disorders. Unhealthy relationships with food are aggravated by what is planted into the mind.
It took a lifetime for me to break free from this identity that people tried to impose on me. It took sweat, oceans of tears and a lot of positive affirmation. At times, I avoided family gatherings, which for me meant not traveling back home to the islands because I knew my weight (loss or gain) would become a topic of conversation once more and not just once I might add.
It was only when I was born again and truly developed a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that I discovered that someone else saw me differently. I stumbled on this beautiful truth that when God looks at me, He first sees my heart rather than my appearance. Finally, someone who SEES me truly sees ME. Not what I look like, not what the number might say on the scale, but ME. And like that, I turned to the One who knows all about me and defines me. I then discovered that my true identity is not defined by what I think, by my accomplishments, what other people think or say about me, or by what other people associate with me. No, my true identity is defined by what GOD says about me. And so it is with you.
You are defined by what God says about you not what others say or think, not even what you think about yourself. God created us in such a way that our identity would be unchanging. Indeed, it does not change with the times, the latest trend, or anything else but is anchored in Jesus Christ. Even the roles or various hats we put on every day do not define us. You are more than your job, more than a sister or brother, more than a daughter or son, even more than a parent. Those roles were never meant to define who you are. Yes they are part of who you are but they are not at the root of who you are. You are more than your roles and more than your experiences in life.
God says that you are loved (Jeremiah 31:3), free (John 8:36), saved (John 3:16), forgiven (1 John 1:9; Psalms 103:12), redeemed (Psalms 31:5), chosen (Isaiah 41:9), set apart, and my favorite of all fearfully and wonderfully made. There is so much more than God says about you, which you can discover through the beautiful pages of scripture. Just as God does not change, what He says about you does not either. He designed your identity to be unchanging in this way so you could walk in freedom and confidence. Even when you sin or mess up, you can rest assured of this truth:
you are free,
you are accepted,
you are forgiven
and FOREVER Loved.
You are a child of the Most High God!
So when others try to define you because they see you through different lenses than those of the Father, remember who defines you. Remember who God says that you are, affirm it and walk in it in Jesus’ name.
Heavenly Father, thank you for seeing for the real me with flaws and all. Thank you for knowing all about me and loving me with a fierce and endless love. Help me to remember my true identity and walk freely and confidently in it daily. Show me also how to see others the way that you see them and extend to them the same grace you extend to me daily. Amen.
This devotion was inspired by and in response to a mother in this group who was struggling with knowing how to help her daughter deal with a family member who continually reminded the little girl that she is not enough because of her weight.
Though being overweight or even underweight is a real thing and we see it daily, there is a Christ-like, loving manner in which to speak and approach others about it. Daily or frequent reminders are unnecessary. The person already knows and already sees it in the mirror. Just because they are not progressing as fast as you’d like does not mean they are not trying. Keep in mind that sometimes people have real medical situations that they may not want to share either. I was reminded recently that once we complain, we always have to explain. Sometimes, people may be struggling with other issues that show up in their weight because it spills over into their eating habits or lack of physical activity or caused by stress. No matter what the case may be, defining a child by what they look is not a healthy way to nurture their young minds. You will wound and leave scares that can last a lifetime. Some may never be undone.
If you have a child that is more overweight than they should be, make it a family effort to move more and to eat better. Do not single out the child. Chances are they already get plenty of that on the playground. They don’t need it at home too. Instead, they need your love and support. If you think your child needs to move more, why not take part in an activity they love with them or cook a meal that you can all enjoy and is healthy. The worst thing you can do is have the attitude “I don’t have a weight problem so I can afford to eat this but tell my child don’t eat it”. Real support is not in mere words but in action also. Choose to encourage and love this child. Don’t turn their weight into a continuous topic of conversation. Most of all, point your child back to what God says about them. This will be a beautiful gift that you will give them and will remain with them their entire life.