“I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well.” – Psalm 139:14
If we look at women’s magazine covers today, we see a whole lot of nonathletes. Thin, petite women who model clothes or sing pop music for a living. While that’s fine for them—they probably don’t need explosive quads for their jobs—it doesn’t do us as women athletes much good when we look down and see our muscular thighs and solid waistlines staring back at us and think we’re less beautiful. In those moments, we can get downright mean with ourselves and sink into a self-loathing pit that causes us to live outside of the joy and peace we could have in Christ. It’s the daily struggle with body image, and it’s one that’s all too familiar in our locker rooms and huddles.
(Now, guys, don’t tune me out here. Even if you don’t identify with the struggle described above, you should still be aware of this lesson for two reasons: 1. Because you all have moms, sisters, girlfriends or wives who battle this. And, 2. Because the body image struggle, at its core, probably IS something many of you can relate to.)
Ladies, imagine for a moment that you look like one of today’s top models. Your arms and legs are thin. There is little to no fat on your body, and your muscles are so small they can only be detected with an MRI. You walk out to face your opponent on the court, and she raises her eyebrows, “Are you guarding me?” You’d like to be confident in your response, but you suddenly realize that she has at least 50 pounds on you. How’s your confidence now?
Have you ever stopped to consider your athletic body’s worth—what it does and is capable of doing? It’s a pretty incredible thing. It can run, jump, throw a pitch, smash a volleyball and so much more. But only if you take care of it and train it for competition, which will inevitably make your body look different than the ones on the red-carpet.
Listen, that’s OK. If we believe God’s Word in Psalm 139, it’s a good thing. While we want to appreciate the beauty of all God’s daughters and not berate those who set the world’s standards, we can’t do so at the expense of our own self-worth. We simply can’t label one body type as beautiful and all others as unattractive. It’s not biblical, and it’s not healthy. It’s only a lie of the enemy, who wants to steal our life and joy and render us ineffective.
Instead of killing our self-esteem when we look in the mirror, we need to learn and begin to believe the real Truth about ourselves as God Himself laid it out and allow it to set us free (John 8:32).
Take a look at the key Psalm 139 verse in context: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (v. 13-16, NIV).
Ladies (and gentlemen), God created you as you are on purpose. And if you believe God is the loving, wise and perfect Father He says He is, you can know that your design was (and is) a good one. Psalm 139 shows that you were designed as you are on purpose, and you are a beautiful work of God—every bit of you. And while the world can only offer its opinion, this is actual truth. Whether or not you match up with pop culture doesn’t have any bearing on your real worth and value. You are fearfully and wonderfully made just as you are.
- What is your opinion of your body, and how does it affect you mentally? Emotionally? Spiritually? Physically?
- Where did you get your opinion? Who taught you how and what to think about your body?
- Do you worry more about the number on the scale more than about your physical fitness? Would you ever change your diet to help you lose weight at the expense of your athletic performance? How could this affect your health? Your team?
- Have you ever considered that God gave you your body for a reason? What can you do athletically that you wouldn’t be able to do without your specific physical design?
- What lies do you believe about your body that need to be replaced with God’s truth? How will you replace them?
- 1 Samuel 16:7
- Psalm 139
- Romans 12:2
- Ephesians 2:10
“Lord, thank You for my body. I know You created me and gave me a purpose and that my physical design somehow fits that plan. I confess that I often believe what the world and the enemy say about physical appearance instead of what You say. Help me to know and believe Your Truth about my body and about who I am in You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”