The voice begins to whisper as soon as my feet hit the floor and grows to a thunder as I near my closet door.
“You can’t wear half of the things in here anymore.”
“All of your clothes are too tight.”
“What woman has three different sizes of clothing, hoping that one day she will fit back into her old size? Give it up already. That dress is never going over those hips again.”
As I scrounge for something to wear the voice becomes louder and more sinister.
“You are such a failure.”
“You are so fat.”
“You are disgusting.”
Welcome to the voice of self-hatred. She’s not a pretty voice. Her tone is downright nasty. She sneaks in at opportune times and brings with her unwelcomed friends of fear, shame and despair. That’s when the fun really begins.
Growing up I was always the tall girl who could throw down a plate of nachos and wash it down with a Coke and not blink an eye. But with age, those days are over! Over the past few years, I’ve struggled with an endocrine disorder that has left my metabolism in ruins. Mix in a chaotic travel schedule that left little room for consistent workouts and you have the perfect cocktail for weight gain. As I watched the number on the scale go up, the taunts only grew louder.
I’m sure I’m not alone in my battle against this voice. After all, aren’t we all swimming in the great big pool of comparison? Speaking of swimming, don’t even get me started on swimsuit season. I’m fully convinced that dressing room mirrors are the gates to hell. Comparing our bodies to others who are younger, tanner, thinner and …well, more perfect than us. Not to mention the battle we face at the supermarket checkout line where perfectly photoshopped bodies are paraded on magazine covers … conveniently next to the same shelf that holds the Snickers Bars and diet pills. I smell a conspiracy.
Here’s my dilemma. I don’t want to listen to that voice. I don’t want to become a woman who is consumed with how I look or what size I wear. I want my life to be consumed with Jesus …with His glory…with His matchless beauty. I don’t want to be consumed with me. More than anything, I want to live a life on mission, for the glory of God.
But at the same time, I’d sure love for my clothes to fit.
Honestly, I have no misconception that I’m going to be the perfect size 2 and wear a
bikini. For starters, I’m almost 6 feet tall. I would look like a skeleton at that size and I’m too modest for a bikini. I’m realistic. I just want to be healthy. I would like to fit into my normal clothing. I’d like to know that I am taking care of the body that God gave me. I sure don’t want to become a woman who obsesses over every calorie. That’s not freedom.
But the voice doesn’t give a rip about all my good intentions. It doesn’t care if I’m a size 2 or 20. All the voice wants to do is to “kill, steal and destroy”—at any size. That’s why a perfectly healthy young woman who weights 130 pounds could hear the same taunts as a woman twice her size.
Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
Behind this voice of self-hatred is the voice of my enemy and yours. The voice of the Father of Lies (John 8:44) who wants us to hate ourselves, who wants us to live in bondage to a number on a scale. Nothing pleases Satan more than the thought that we would be captive to a size rather than captivated by the Glory of God.
Can I get an amen?
I decided a long time ago that I’m not going to sit around and let Satan win. Before Jesus redeemed my life at the age of twenty-five, I lived in complete bondage to the enemy’s deceptions. I was a young woman riddled with addictions, insecurities and shame. I call myself a redeemed girl because that is precisely what Jesus did—He rescued me and set me free! Once I experienced freedom in Christ, I was bound and determined to never go back.
Therefore, after a few weeks of wallowing in shame, I was so sick of my self-loathing that I knew I needed to take a stand. Sure, I made some healthy lifestyle changes and made working out and eating well a priority, but there’s more to this makeover story. I came to terms with the fact that the scale is not my enemy… the voice is my enemy.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5
As we stand against the voice of self-hatred we must remember that our enemy seeks to establish strongholds of lies that keep us in bondage. Our minds are the battlefield. The reason we “take thoughts captive” is so that they do not rule over us or lead us to unhealthy choices. For a woman who struggles with self-hatred, she could be tempted to take harmful measures to lose weight or wallow in shame with her best friends, Ben & Jerry.
As women who are leading others, we often hear Christian clichés like “take a thought captive,” but what does this actually look like in real life? I’ve discovered that I can’t control whether or not the voice speaks, but I can control whether or not I listen. Rather than engaging in a conversation with a voice of self-hatred, I choose to tune into the Voice of Truth. Friends, Jesus is the Voice of Truth.
Therefore, when the enemy comes assaulting my identity, I must choose to listen to the ONLY ONE WHO HAS THE RIGHT TO DEFINE ME—THE ONE WHO CREATED AND REDEEMED ME! Only Jesus has the right to define our worth and the last time I checked, He is far more concerned with who we become, than what size we wear.
Since we can’t stop the other voice from speaking, the only way to “take the thoughts captive” is to change the channel. If I’m driving my car and a song comes on the radio that I don’t like, what do I do? I switch stations. The same is true for our mind. If I am bombarded with the voice of comparison or fear, self-hatred or shame, then I must choose to change the channel.
How do we change the channel?
First, stop what you are doing confess your fears and the lies to Jesus. God is present with us when we call upon Him. We can’t stand against the enemy alone, we need the Holy Spirit!
Next, make it a point to meditate on scripture, especially ones that speak to your struggles. Don’t just read the words; speak out loud who you are in Christ.
When the battle is intense, blast a worship song. Nothing drives out the voice of the enemy like lifting high the name of Jesus!
Finally, think of ways to minister to someone else so that you can take your mind off of yourself. Self-hatred and self-focus are two sides of the same blade. When we turn the attention towards serving and loving others we beat the enemy at his game.
And guess what? When we choose to change the channel, we experience freedom! The last thing in the world that Satan wants us to do is focus on Jesus. He would much rather we stand in front of a mirror and focus on the size of our love handles. When we shift our gaze off of self and onto Jesus, our whole world turns right side up! Our souls were wired to worship, so when we do what God created us to do rather than fixate on ourselves, then we get to experience something the enemy can never take away—the peace and presence of God! There is freedom and joy in the Presence of God. Friends, the only way to win the battle against the voice is to choose to tune into the Voice of Truth.