I know what it feels like to be embarrassed about my body.
In the past, I would worry about my acne. I would worry about my height, that I was too short. I would worry about my hair, that I was going bald.
But most of all, I worried about my fat. Growing up, I was a bit of a chubby kid. I remember in middle school, one of my classmates would taunt me and call me a “big fat baby”. That really hurt. I hated going swimming, since I didn’t want to take off my shirt and expose myself.
I’m not sure what exactly I was worried about. Was I worried that with my acne, short height, balding hair, and fat body, that no girl would ever like me, that I would never get married? That’s certainly a worry that was presented to me again and again.
I guess I just felt embarrassed to be me.
Some things have changed since then. I’ve lost weight and gotten more fit. My acne is gone. I haven’t managed to grow much taller or have thicker hair, but that’s OK.
What’s changed the most, though, is my perspective. I’ve come to realize that those things aren’t really that important. I look to the heroes in my life, the people who model the qualities that I most admire: compassion, faithfulness, diligence. They may not be embodiments of physical beauty, but they radiate a deeper beauty of love, of honor, of spirit.
People talk about the ideal body, about muscles and flexing and GAINS. But what did Jesus say? “This is my body, which is broken for you.” Jesus gave up his body, so that others may live. His body was not for his own glory, but as a vehicle to love others. Because the crucial questions for me will not be “How much can you bench?” or “Did you have a six pack?”, but rather “How well did you love?”
Yes, exercise is important. Good eating habits are important. Sleep is important (Lord, yes). Self-care is important. But it’s not the only, or the most, important thing.
To be honest, I still feel insecure at times. I see other guys who are taller or fitter or have lusher hair, and I feel a twinge of pity for myself. But I turn my attention away from those thoughts, and turn them to God’s acceptance for me, and His question: “How well do you love?”