Since I was 14 years old, I’ve struggled to know who I am and who God has called me to be. Like a stranger in someone else’s skin, I’ve felt uncomfortable in this body called my own. Though I didn’t inherently start out hating my body, I started limiting my food intake and exercising excessively to gain the ‘perfect’ body, falling into an eating disorder that I could not control. This unhealthy obsession with how I looked fed me lies that starved my soul.
Seven years into my struggle, aged 21, this painful discomfort was resting deep in my bones. But the more I tried to change my external body, the heavier I felt on the inside. I believed that if I made my physical self socially acceptable, I would gain friends. But begging for friendships in this way doesn’t end in genuine relationships — it compromises who we are. In those years, I traded the truth of His words for several lies. I stayed in patterns of sin that I thought would make me accept myself, but really only left me with an unhelpful idol called borderline anorexia and orthorexia (an unhealthy or obsessive focus on eating in a healthy way). In place of the happiness I was seeking, I received a mental disorder as a coping mechanism for control.
THIS UNHEALTHY OBSESSION WITH HOW I LOOKED FED ME LIES THAT STARVED MY SOUL.
Now having recovered at 25, I realise that my issues were not merely from a mental disorder, but problems with core beliefs about who God says I am versus who I believed I was. I had boiled my self-worth down to an image in the mirror when Christ calls me to eternal beauty that never fades. I want to encourage you with three truths of who you are according to God’s Word, so that you’re well-equipped to identify the lies you are told about who you aren’t.
I HAD BOILED MY SELF-WORTH DOWN TO AN IMAGE IN THE MIRROR
1. God says I am redeemed by Christ and not defined by my past, present, or future sins.
As I began to recover from my eating disorder and obsession with health, I had to reject who Satan had convinced me I was: an imperfect person who would never measure up. As my self-esteem plummeted, even though I knew that I was redeemed by the blood of Christ, I struggled to believe that God would be able to see me as a new creation who is forgiven of her sins (2 Cor 5:17; Eph 1:7). My past cast a shadow over my life in Christ.
Satan lies that I would never be good enough, but God says that in Christ, I am. In fact, Psalm 139:13–16 reminds me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (v. 14)! Rejecting the devil’s lies helped me to see that I am of the utmost value to God because He loves me (John 3:16; Gal 2:20). All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23), but because of His grace (Rom 3:24), we are forgiven and no longer bound by that sin (Rom 8:1–2; 2 Cor 5:21).
2. God says I can be healed of my sins, and I don’t have to keep them hidden.
In the thick of my addictions, I had a distorted view of who God created me to be. Facing my faulty image in the mirror, all I saw were my imperfections or reminders of why I’d never be enough to make up for how I’d harmed myself during my struggles. The enemy got me to believe that if I hid my sins even from myself, they would magically go away. I did not understand why I was a slave to these unhealthy mindsets and eating disorders, yet I sensed they were wrong and sinful. But healing doesn’t come when you conceal your sins — it comes when you bring them into the light.
James 5:16 tells us that confessing our sins to one another opens the door to healing. That’s exactly why the enemy would want you to keep your struggles behind closed doors — you are shutting off the possibility of resolving them soon. When we bring to light the lies of the enemy, it becomes much easier to dispel them with the truth.
3. God says I don’t have to be perfect to be loved and have worth.
I am a self-professed perfectionist, and I used to define perfection as having the best body, a perfect G.P.A., and having control over every aspect of my life. I even believed that God saw my value based on how much I served Him. But sisters, this thinking is not only flawed but destructive.
To be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect (Matt 5:48) has nothing to do with worldly views of perfection, but everything to do with Christ. When Christ calls us to His standards, that means being empowered by the Holy Spirit to endeavor to live a godly life as Jesus did. However, by our own strength, none of us can be fully righteous (Rom 3:10, 20). It is only through faith in Jesus that we are able to be counted as acceptable in God’s eyes (Rom 3:22–24).
IT IS INCREDIBLY FREEING TO KNOW THAT THERE IS NOTHING I CAN DO TO BE 'PERFECT'
Even today, I still have trouble understanding that our Heavenly Father’s perfection is something we are called to reach for but can never attain. At the same time, it is incredibly freeing to know that there is nothing I can do to be ‘perfect’. Instead, the beautiful thing is that Christ’s finished work on the Cross tells me that I am already loved and have worth — and that has nothing to do with my efforts.
We may be ugly, messy sinners, but Christ already died for you and me, just as we are (Rom 5:8).
DO YOU MEASURE UP?
When we believe these truths from God’s Word — that we are redeemed by Christ, can be healed of our sins by facing them, and don’t need to be perfect to be loved, something about how we see ourselves begins to change. When we look into the mirror, we won’t see a flawed, sinful being without hope. We will see someone worthy and redeemed in His eyes, not because of who we say we are, but who He declares us to be as new creations in Christ.
Remember, Satan prowls around like a hungry lion ready to kill, steal, and destroy, but Christ came to give life to the fullest (John 10:10; 1 Pet 5:8). Instead of feeding yourself with lies, fill yourself with the life- giving truths of God’s Word.