You there, God? It’s me, the fattest loser.
Shhh! Don’t tell me. I haven’t seen the finale of The Biggest Loser yet. Week after week, I enjoy the workouts (last chance workout!), cringe at the product placements, fast forward through the yapping and weigh-in suspense, and tear up during the heartfelt stories and pounds shed. With 13.4 million viewers, this show has struck a chord.
That chord sounds to me like a lot of hurting people whom the church has failed.
More than 72 million people, or 33% of adults, are overweight. The numbers are rising. Obsession with weight plagues millions of young adults, and one out of every seven women has suffered from an eating disorder at some time in her life (read more). Addictions to food or diets, neglecting our bodies or obsessing over them, so many of us feel the weight of body-image and health issues.
And where are churches in this struggle? The last time I heard a pastor mention weight during a sermon was in a joke about the upcoming potluck, as he patted his bulging belly. There’s no lack of instruction at church about how Christians “should” live, but it does lack the truth that Jesus came to give us abundant life, and that includes holistic health and freedom from obsession with body image. God never intended us to separate the physical from the spiritual — and with so many people pained by their bodies, I think God wants to provide his healing and hope. Inside and out, spiritually and physically.
And we want that transformation. Christian or not, lots of people watch extreme makeovers — they love seeing the before and after shots of someone who desperately needed her eyebrow separated into two, or hammer pants replaced by designer jeans. I love seeing makeovers — it makes tangible the idea of becoming a new creation. But like everything else, this idea of a new creation has warped into a perversion that if we attain that perfect physical body, spiritual perfection will follow in the form of joy, love, contentment, etc. I can’t grasp perfect joy by my own efforts any more than I can do enough sit-ups to mold my chin into a Reese Witherspoon replica.
Being a new creation looks different for each of us. There’s no perfect size or shape or color, except the ones God perfectly created us with. He wants us to enjoy his creation, take precious care of it and see his beauty in it — everything from majestic mountains to lovely lady lumps. This mindset, let alone lifestyle, is hard for us to attain, but that’s where relying on God comes in.
If King David lived today, in America, I think the Psalms would look a lot different. Instead of crying out to God to protect him from those who seek his life, David might lament his thunder thighs, or pray for freedom from his obsession with a no-carb diet. He’d ask for refuge from his desire to have bulging biceps or cutting calves.
Maybe I’m way off. I am a woman, after all, and I don’t see my husband checking out his butt when we pass a mirrored window. But I sure sneak a peek at mine. Either way, if God e-mailed me an assignment for his next Bible edition, and I got to contribute to Psalms, that’s what I would write about. And I think Jesus would take it to print (He is an author and perfecter, you know.)
This blog post is too preachy. I’m feeling uncomfortable. If you think the church hasn’t failed in this area, please share! Or if you think makeovers aren’t a good representation of the new creation, I’d like to hear your thoughts. And if you know how to mold a chin to replicate Reese Witherspoon’s, I’m all ears.