From Fat & Prideful to Beautiful & Holy

Ever since I can remember, I’ve taken issue with my body. I’ve always compared myself to the “skinny” girls around me. I remember as early as 5th grade a particular girl in my class that for some reason I always compared myself to body-wise. “She’s so skinny. Gosh, I wish I could look like her.” I compared myself to her all through high school and beyond. Even now as a 30 something woman I would see her pictures on Facebook and think to myself, “Having kids didn’t ruin her body. If only I had more self-control not to eat the pizza or the scone.” 

I would avoid looking at myself in the mirror when I walked by it naked as I got out of the shower. I was disgusted by what I saw. Thick thighs, stretch marks, a belly that hangs, boobs that sag, so many dimples in places I thought there shouldn’t be dimples. 

My family has always told me I was beautiful. My husband has always been so kind to lovingly adore my body. He would tell me things like,

“You are the standard by which all beauty is measured”.

So sweet and romantic, but in my mind, total lies. There is no way he loves my body at 230 pounds. He’s just trying to make me feel better. The way I spoke to myself not only affected my own self-worth, but also the way I saw others. I was either terribly down on myself or I would put others down to make myself feel better.

My thinking has changed. I no longer look at myself in disgust. Now I see stretch marks and thank the Lord that my body grew life 4 times! I see my sagging boobs and thank Him for allowing me to feed my babies. I see my thick thighs and thank Him for good food and a strong body that I can use to continue on a journey to health. Last week I went to a public pool with my family. It was the first time I had been since I had changed my thinking. As I sat there enjoying the cool water on that very hot day something occurred to me. Not once had I looked at the skinny girl and wished I was her. Not once did I judge the heavier girl! Not once did I compare myself to anyone else at that pool! I was completely confident in who I was in my own skin. It must have shown too because my sisters commented on how good I looked. Confidence is attractive! I am beyond grateful for my renewed mind and heart concerning my body!!

I grew up in a Christian home. My family bounced between churches during my childhood. At one point my dad was even the pastor at a church. All my life I was taught “modesty.”

“Make sure you don’t show too much cleavage.”

“Make sure your shorts aren’t too short.”

I took pride in my “modesty” because “our bodies are temples”. I was protecting the boys and men around me from thinking lustful thoughts. There was no way they were going to lust after me anyway because I was “fat” and covered up. My parents taught us the way they thought best. That’s what they were taught after all. For generations parents have been teaching their girls to cover up and their boys to be good because “that’s what the Bible says.” I have been teaching my own 4 children the same. But is this really what Scripture teaches? Is this really what the Lord had in mind and desires of us? I believe the church is missing the mark and we are debilitating our kids in the process.

Let’s get real! No more masks! No more “we can’t talk about that!” No more tip toeing around what’s really going on!

The way the church approaches the body is doing way more harm than good! By the time our boys bounce their eyes, the image is already in their head. It doesn’t take staring at it for the lust to begin, because we are conditioning our boys that the sight of the opposite gender is going to automatically trigger a sexual response. Wearing modest clothing isn’t keeping our men and boys from lusting and wondering what’s underneath. I have talked to several men who said it didn’t matter what someone was or wasn’t wearing, the curiosity was still there. But when everyone is bare, nothing is remarkable. I’ve seen this first hand recently while visiting a nude beach. I saw many people being modest and none of them were wearing clothes. They were showing a mutual respect for not only bodies around them but also the person as a whole. More on that in a future post!

We girls can do all the right things, but if someone’s mind is in the gutter, we could still be lusted after. I have recently been introduced to a group of people who believe, like me, that we can do better. We need to start showing our children that they have been created in the image and likeness of the Most High God! That word means a picture. A physical and spiritual image of the Lord! No matter what we look like, our bodies are a gift from God and the pinnacle of His creation. If we can begin to put that into the minds and hearts of our children, I believe that we could begin to change the current course the world and the church is on. The current methods aren’t working! We give the boys a pass with phrases like, “Boys will be boys” and “every man’s battle.” We put blame and guilt on girls because their skirts are too short and their shirt is too low cut. It’s wrong, and it’s not fair to either group!

I will not lie down and surrender to the notion that my boys are sentenced to a lifetime of bouncing their eyes or installing barriers on their computers in order not to lust! That is bondage! We need renewed minds and hearts!

I refuse to lie down and surrender to the notion that my daughter will forever feel inferior and ugly because she’s comparing her body to the ones she sees in the magazines or on TV! That is bondage! We need renewed minds and hearts!

This is a work in progress for our family because this way of thinking is fairly new to us, but I will do everything in my power to help my children live in freedom as they reject bondage to the lies of Satan! I will not give up this fight! Satan will not win! IN THE NAME OF JESUS, NOT ON MY WATCH!

In the Beginning

Nothing could have prepared me for the conversation that would take place in my living room on that October day. It started like any other Friday. My husband works from home on Fridays, so they are generally very laid back. I had been watching a baking show on Netflix and was on the last episode and wanted to finish the season so I grabbed my coffee and sat down on the couch to watch. My hubby made me french toast that morning. It was very thoughtful of him, but looking back, he was probably buttering me up a bit. When he was done with breakfast he sat down on the love seat and “watched” with me. I do recall him being on his phone more than watching though.

When the show was over I started to get up, that’s when it happened. “We need to talk.” he said. My first thought was, “Oh dang!” I sat back down and got comfortable. As stated, I sensed this was going to be a doozy, and I wasn’t wrong.

He took his phone and started reading a script he had prepared ahead of time. The first few sentences out of his mouth had me wondering if he had had an affair. They went something like, “We’ve loved each other a long time. You’re the only one for me.” I sensed a HUGE “but” coming.  Then it came. “I’m a nudist.” First thoughts on that phrase, “Duh.” I had known for a long time that he enjoyed being nude. I knew that as a teenager he would streak around his house and sometimes he and his friends would hang out nude. I knew that when the kids were not home he liked being nude and sometimes I would join him. I knew he liked skinny dipping. I knew that when we had gone camping just a few months earlier that he had been nude 95% of the time. I knew all of this about him so why did this feel like a big deal? There had to be more… and there was. 

He revealed to me that he was part of an online community of Christian naturists (oxymoron in my book).

I started to feel anger rise up in me. “What does that even mean?,” I asked. He explained that he had become friends with other people who happened to enjoy being nude and who happened to be Christians. He told me that they were actually praying for us at that very moment because they knew he was going to be talking with me that morning. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. I kind of felt ganged up on.

I knew he had struggled with pornography in the past, but this was taking it to a whole new level. Justifying seeing naked people because they are Christian naturists. It’s just taking something that is obviously wrong and twisting it so you feel like it’s ok.

I was livid! The tears began to flow because that’s what I do when I’m angry and hurt. He assured me it wasn’t like that, and that it was actually the total opposite. He reminded me how he had struggled with porn for the last 20 years and had tried over and over to defeat it. I knew that, because he had been honest with me about it several times. He went on to say that he had hit rock bottom and in his climb out of the pit he came across naturism. It wasn’t the first time he had crossed paths with naturism, but because of things we were taught in church and in a Christian upbringing he had dismissed it thinking it had to be wrong. He had met a man, a former pastor actually, who had directed him to a website, www.nakedandunashamed.org. Because of this man, and others, and ultimately the Lord working in his heart and mind, the chains of pornography had fallen away. His mind had been renewed and he no longer looked at other women lustfully, but as image bearers of God. He now saw others through eyes of admiration for a Creator instead of eyes of lust. I wasn’t convinced, but I sensed something inside me telling me to remain calm and hear him out. I know that voice, I’ve heard it before. It was the Holy Spirit, so I listened. 

He went on to share with me his thoughts that maybe naturism could help me overcome my own body shaming issues.

He told me of a lady in his online community that had just joined their group to catch her husband cheating and ended up becoming a naturist herself after reading all of the Christian evidence for the naturist lifestyle. He thought maybe I could do the same. Never in a million years

He gave me 3 options to think on. Now that I had this information, here were my choices:

  1. Forbid him from being in the group. He hoped I wouldn’t choose this option.
  2. Allow him to be a naturist and participate in the group, but not participate myself. He also said this would not be ideal.
  3. Check it out for myself, and hopefully join him in naturism. 

I told him several times that I felt like I was between a rock and a hard place because I didn’t really feel like I had options. 

I couldn’t choose option #1 because that would be like spitting in the face of the fact that he had had a supposed lasting victory over pornography. I couldn’t choose option #2 because I didn’t want him seeing a bunch of naked ladies without me knowing what he was seeing and doing. I didn’t trust him again yet. If I wanted to stay married to him my only option was #3. I contemplated whether I did want to stay married or not. Even though I knew #3 was my only option for a happy and healthy marriage, I wasn’t sure I could make this work or wanted to. We could lose everything after all. If anyone were to find out, our lives would be ruined. After listening to his prepared speech, I hugged him and thanked him for being honest with me. As angry as I was I knew it took balls to share and confess what he had.

As usual on our Fridays, we decided to go to lunch. As we sat and ate, mostly in silence, I began to think of questions I wanted to ask. They weren’t questions for the middle of a restaurant so I waited until we got in the car. I asked if he had shared pictures of himself in this group. He said very matter of factly that he had. Again anger raised its ugly head, but I get quiet when I’m angry. We decided to go for ice cream. Maybe it would help cool me down. On the way home I was hit with what I later started calling a wave of anger and threw my ice cream out the window. We again sat in silence.

The first several days were an emotional roller coaster. The more we talked, the more he revealed his heart and his past. There were hard questions and hard answers. These were hard things. Harder than I could have imagined, but the more he shared the more God broke my heart and opened it to this wounded, yet healed man. I could tell he was different. His spirit felt different. He prayed with me and for me and even cried for me to be free of the scales over my eyes. There was a lot of spiritual warfare going on. Voices in my head continuously threatened me with phrases like, “You’ll never be enough!” and “He’s lying to you.” or  “You’re still fat.” and “You thought you could actually do this? You’ll never be free!” On several occasions I would feel a weight on my chest like I couldn’t breathe. I prayed so much!  

We read so many things together. One of the resources we came across a website called www.mychainsaregone.org. We read the Bible. The more I read, the angrier I got, but not at my husband. I was angry at the enemy, and his deception, and the lies. I began to feel myself leaning into this lifestyle. I couldn’t share that with him though, because I was afraid he would push me too hard. Besides, I still hated how I looked. There was no way I was going to let anyone see me naked. I might be nude while camping next time, but no way social nudity was part of this for me. Finally I asked to see his groups and some friends he had made and messages of praying for us.

“Could it be real that these people aren’t perverts?” I definitely hadn’t seen anything perverted within his group. 

He gave me an assignment of standing in front of the mirror naked and saying outloud to myself, “I am beautiful.” I laughed when he gave me this assignment telling him there was no way I was going to do that. I did though. I sent him a picture the first day with the words “I am beautiful” written on it. He said, “Nice picture, but I don’t believe you.” He was right, I didn’t believe it. I was just trying to end this silly game! I didn’t do it the next day because I thought this assignment was stupid. I did day 3 and then, on day 4 I looked at myself and said, “I am beautiful, I am beautiful.” and it was like a veil was lifted from my eyes. I physically felt it. I got this smirk on my face and thought, “Oh crap, he’s right, I AM beautiful!”  For the first time since I can remember, I actually thought I was beautiful… extra pounds and stretch marks and dimples and all. I took another picture that day and sent it to him. This time he said right away that he could tell I actually believed it. 

The next night I did something I never thought I would do and only days before I had said never in a million years. I joined that group and told of the transformation that had happened in my mind and heart in only a matter of days. October 18th was the day we began the worst conversation that turned into the best conversation. October 24th was the day I became a naturist by Biblical conviction. Oh, and a week after I threw my ice cream out the window we went back and got some more and laughed and enjoyed the healing that was taking place.