I had a good conversation with a friend of mine this weekend on eating and weight issues for girls. The crux of the matter on the table is looking at dieting and exercise as a fix all for heart issues of dissatisfaction. Do we get our self worth from our performance/weight/jeans size/how much I can lose or shape my body? Does it come from our appearance? Is it about control? Do we have the inner discipline of “self forgetfulness” cultivated so that we are not destroyed or prideful depending on the numbers on a scale. You won’t know how controlled by your heart issues surrounding identity often until you reach the ideal and then realize you still aren’t satisfied. Only then does the dissatisfaction expose that the real source of the pain is in our heart and not just the numbers on the scale. Until the heart is dealt with, girls will struggle with pride, self loathing, comparison, one-upmanship with other women, competition, eating disorders, and just an overall unhealthy relationship with their bodies.
For my friend.. the question is.. as she is eating healthier and making changes in exercise, is she dealing with the identity issue in the heart: what gives her worth and value? If she doesn’t deal with the inner as she deals with the outer, she will likely get to the ideal jeans size and still be unhappy. Or that is where girls take the elation and control they feel with dieting and exercise to try and continually make themselves feel better to a state of having an eating disorder.
I listened to this later in the weekend and I thought it addressed what I call the “Pendulum of Self Loathing and Pride.”
Tim asks some provocative questions as he tries to get us to see that the source for our contentment is not best to be coming from within us. He has this imaginary conversation between himself and a counselor.
“it doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks, it matters what YOU think!” – counselor
“Okay so if I have high standards I’ll hate myself just as bad as before? And if I have low standards, I’ll feel fine until I realize I have low standards and I was just as bad as before?”- Tim
“As soon as everyone else tells you “you have to decide what is right for you” that will never work. It is not just wrong. It is stupid.”- Tim
What is the solution then if I am not to decide what’s right for me to be free from self loathing or pride? Where else do I get my source of input that leaves me free and not a slave to myself or someone else?
The solution is something of good news for those of us who have swung this pendulum and it has to do with God’s love for us. It is something not found within us, but outside of us. It is also more sure and stable than the scale and gives us something to stabilize on and not be prideful when we are at our ideal weight and not be torn to pieces when we gain a few pounds over Christmas. It gives me freedom and self assurance to say thank you to a complement. But the complement doesn’t make or break my day.
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