Freedom From Body Shaming and Abuse
I took this photo at our cabin last week. I thought it was fitting for this week's first post.
I’ll never forget the first time he called one of my pairs of pants “my fat pants.” I was stunned and hurt. What was interesting about his statement was he was also for all intents and purposes, fat himself (the pot-calling-the-kettle-black syndrome). However, I was not to point that out to him, and he called none of his clothes his “fat clothes.” I don’t use the word “fat” to hurt anyone’s feelings, we all have different, beautiful body types. I use the term “fat” to drive home a point – abusive men and women will use body shaming to put you down and keep you there. Once he used the term “fat pants” it stuck because I didn’t tell him to stop nor stand up for myself. I felt awful and ugly about myself. Body shaming goal accomplished.
“Fat pants” however, did not hold a candle to his “modesty code” interpretation. I had three lovely shirts I really enjoyed wearing. They were my some of my favorite colors – orange, purple, and blue. Every time I would put on one of these shirts, he would start an argument. He would say they were “immodest” and they “showed too much” even though they showed nothing. He would get angry and tell me “none of my boobs needed to show and that was slutty.” He was basically implying I was a slut when I wore these shirts. The truth is, these shirts like many shirts do, slid down my chest a bit at times and I would have to pull them back up, we’ve all been there. They were neither immodest as he claimed nor inappropriate. He would go on and on about how I needed to wear something under them. I got something to put under them so he would just leave me alone. That didn’t work. He claimed those didn’t cover me either. Eventually, I just stopped wearing my favorite shirts to avoid the arguing and meanness. He had accomplished his goal to further put me down and make me feel bad as well as ugly. When abusers have you where they want you and they get their way, only then do they move on. He moved on. I was broken on the inside. My dress wasn’t good enough, my body wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t good enough.
I decided I’d had enough of this, among other things, in May of 2014 after three years of marriage. I walked away yet, I still felt ugly and hated myself. In June of 2014, he took his life before I could file for divorce. I was both relieved and sad – I know that sounds terrible, but it is true. I didn’t have to listen to his voice in real life anymore, but it was still in my head. I felt ugly and I hated myself. Two years later, I started running and losing weight. However, I had not dealt with the deep pain in my heart not only from my marriage but from my teenage years. Grief was tied up in there too – my heart was a mess. I wasn’t being healthy for me; I was still trying to do things to get others to like me. Afterall, that is why I dated and married an abusive man to begin with – I liked the idea of marriage and I wanted him to want and like me and the marriage to work. I dated a few times in 2017 only to be hurt again by hurting men – trying to get them to want and like me. I hated myself after those relationships. I still felt ugly.
I am so glad Jesus loves us no matter what and meets us right where we are in life. In the beginning of 2018, He began to do a new work in my heart. I couldn’t tell exactly at first what he was doing, but I knew something good was happening. I still hated myself, I still felt ugly. He began removing people from my life that weren’t good for me. It was like a light switch turned on in my head and heart after those friendships ended. The clarity of mind was intense! Real healing took place between April of 2018 and May of 2019. Jesus showed me the root of why I hated myself and why I felt ugly. He showed me why my weight had fluctuated so much, not just in my marriage, but over my entire life. Abuse had reinforced two lies I had believed as a young girl: 1) Rejection, I had felt rejected my teenage male peers, and 2) I wasn’t good enough. To be honest, these guys probably did not realize they were even doing that to me at that age. They had no clue what was going on in my head and heart. I had felt not good enough for over 20 years. I had felt rejected for over 20 years. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure about how Jesus felt about me before this time. This led to food being my comfort. This led to bad choices in men, even before my husband. Abusers and predators, like my late husband, pick up on these kinds of emotional cues in a person - the frequency you emit so to speak. They know vulnerability. They become the person you didn’t think existed, the one who doesn’t reject you and the one who makes you feel good enough. When they have you where they want you, they take off their mask and put you right back where you were when you met them. You feel ugly and you hate yourself all over again and they want it that way. My late husband’s abuse was not my fault. Jesus showed me why he was attracted to me and even why he abused me, and although he picked up on my emotional cues, the abuse had nothing to do with me personally. Jesus took all my hurt and heart yuck– more than 20 years’ worth of hurt and yuck and he healed me! I not only see the why of everything I have been through, I am free of the effects of that pain!
If you have been body shamed or if you have been abused in any way, I want you to know something – the same Jesus who healed me can heal you too. Let me tell you what I know and believe. No other person on this planet has made you. No other person on this planet has died for you. No other person on this planet has defined your existence. The only person that ever walked this earth that did all three of those things for you; made you, died for you, and defined you is Jesus Christ. His opinion is the only one that counts, and it is the only one that is true! He says you are worthy, you are good enough, you are not rejected, you are redeemed, you are righteous, you are clean and unblemished, and you are His beautiful son or daughter, His heir! Everything else is a lie! Anyone telling you anything else is a liar!
I want men and women to walk in the freedom of who they are in Christ – not in the false opinions of others. Body-shaming is a lie! The words of abusers are lies! You don’t have to walk in their lies, you can walk in truth! Believe the truth about who Jesus says you are! Break old patterns of thinking with His truth! Stop the tapes in your head with His truth! He died for you so your mind and your heart could be free! He longs for you to be free. He calls to you! He sees you. He knows you. He is not afraid of your pain or shame. He longs to take those things from you. He loves you!
Matthews 11:28-29; For He is gentle and humble in heart. Come to Him, all who are weary and heavily burdened, and he will give you rest!