Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men
Recently one of my former students, who is now 19, posted on her Facebook wall the following statement:
“I hate being a girl in today's society. Running everyday for 3 weeks. Day 1 of diet supplement”
I read this and automatically my heart started to ache. Why would someone who is an amazing athlete, smart, witty, beautiful and caring struggle with this? We all know that answer. She is living up to a faulty standard set out by society and working so hard to please others rather than the Lord. Now, I do not know if she is a believer or not but I DO know that many Christian girls struggle with the same thing.
I am 28 with two children and have gone through this exact situation throughout the years and honestly still do at times. I get so focused on working out to look a certain way, to fit into a certain outfit, to fit into the mold set by an ever-changing society who could honestly care less about me. I have friends who attend the same bootcamp as I do and at age 40 they stand in front of the mirror and “inspect” their thighs, their love handles, and their arms that they say continue waving even after they have stopped. You may be laughing at this but we have all done it. We have all snuck a peek in the mirror to see if the results that we have been working so hard for are making an appearance :)
So what is it that has us so obsessed with looking a certain way and trying everything possible to be that “perfect” size? This verse can and does work in more instances than in the area of fitness but it speaks volumes. So often as women we go to the gym and kill ourselves or go out to eat and eat like a malnutritioned bunny rabbit to work for and please “man”. We work with all our hearts and all our effort for a couple “atta boys” and compliments that will soon fade away and leave us wanting more. What a shaky and fragile “god” we make of our appearance. This standard becomes a god that will not last, will not satisfy and if we continue to follow it will become our entire life. We will get to the end and look back and see that we worked with all our heart to please these and pursue these instead of the one God that does sustain, does last and does bring fulfillment. This unending striving is exhausting and pointless yet we work with all our heart, all our passion, all our being to make others happy and take notice of us. In the end though, there is so much more. A more solid foundation that we can build our work upon and set out our hard work for. This foundation is one that created all that we are. A foundation that formed the very last detail to what we look like down to our DNA. That foundation is God, our Creator.
We are created in the image of God and our bodies, as Christians, are a temple of the Holy Spirit and through honoring and taking care of our bodies we are better prepared to do the Lord’s work. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) When we are well rested, have energy, and are practicing healthy eating habits think of how much more you get done and how much more you are able to move and interact with others. Those “others” are exactly who the Lord put you around in His timing and for His purpose. So why go against all that He has ordained and sanctioned by only looking at the external and working to please or impress man and not the Lord? Why put so much effort into a “tent” or our earthly bodies and barely give notice to the “house” of the Holy Spirit, the body that will last? ( 2 Corinthians 5:1) We get caught up in worship the creation over the CREATOR.
I have a friend who has a very healthy outlook on health and fitness. She eats well and exercises daily but does not go overboard or become all-consumed at every calorie she has burned or eaten. Her driving passion is to be a good steward of what the Lord has given her and to be able to serve and love others with her healthy body as she lives her life, heartily, for the Lord, not man. She eats balanced meals, she works out regularly and yet when you ask her why she does it she will respond, “ to serve my Lord and so that in 50 years I can wrestle on the floor with my grandchildren”.
Please do not misunderstand me health has its place but its place is NOT on a pedestal that covers and consumes all we do. Yes, we should pursue a healthy lifestyle, one full of activity and healthy eating choices. But we should never work so hard to please man and live up to the standards set by society and forget who created our bodies, who gave us our health and who we honor through taking care of these things. With all that we are, that we have, all that we are being called to, honor the Lord and work for the Lord for the blessings that flow out of this are not only physical but eternal and spiritual and LASTING.
In Isaiah 2:22 it tells us to “stop putting trust in man who has but breath in his nostrils” for these are faulty Gods. Put your trust, put your hard work towards the one that made you, the one that delights in you and the one who resides in you and calls you his own. This is the “society” and the “standard” you want to live with. One full of grace, love, acceptance and an unconditional desire for you to know, “ You are beautiful”.
So if you find yourself like my fellow student and myself, and start to getting caught up in working towards the faulty standard society has set. Take a step back and focus on the one who created the body with which you work and give HIM the glory.
About the Author: Lauren Barksdale is the founder of Soul Fitness. She has a BA and Masters in Kinesiology from Dallas Baptist University . She coached volleyball at Birdville High School in North Richland Hills for the last 5 years. In college she played volleyball for Baylor's club team and at Dallas Baptist University. She has been married to Ben Barksdale for 5 years and has two children; Evie Grace who is 3 and Hudson who is 10 months old. Lauren has a passion for health and fitness and incorporating that into everyday life as a Christ follower