My book, Image Restored, was released in March and I felt led to start a series about restoration. When I completed writing the book, God showed me that each of the chapter’s themes apply to so much more than body image. While this series can be used to address body image struggles, I am going to share it in a way that you can apply it to ANY area of your life.
You do not need a copy of Image Restored to follow along with this series but of course, I recommend it.
Week One: Truth
Core beliefs are an individual’s central ideas about herself, others, and the world.
These beliefs act like a lens through which every situation is seen, and they shape how a person sees the world. Harmful core beliefs lead to negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, whereas rational core beliefs lead to positive reactions.
To stop ourselves from sinking, we must take the time to build our body image on a spiritual foundation of solid rock.
What area of your life do you feel like you are sinking?
Are you standing on the sinking sand of cultural core beliefs or the solid foundation of God’s word?
Ask God to give you a word to stand on (ex: stand firm photo album)
Week Two: Temple
Have you ever considered how the original sin involved food? Unlike other addictions, food cannot simply be avoided. Not if we hope to live! What a vicious hijack by the enemy to take something God intended to be a blessing and turn it into a source of struggle and shame. – Dr. Linda Hoover
The temple restoration starts in our hearts. Our hearts within these bodies house the spirit of God wherever we go. We do not need to be a certain size, shape, or color to house the spirit of God. But we do need to steward this temple well to live life to the fullest. First, as a son or daughter of God, then our call to go out and bring the gospel to the ends of the earth flows from that identity.
What is your belief about your body (and heart) being a temple of God?
Ask God how He sees your temple.
What has the enemy stolen for you in this area?
Week Three: Union
There are two areas of a restored union to address today: you and your body and you and God. A restored body starts with a restored union with God.
2 Corinthians 6:16
Learn to listen to the messages your body sends through both pain and pleasure.
Make a list of things that feel kind to your body, and implement them in your self-care routine.
What is your relationship with God? Is it time to restore union with Him?
What is your relationship with your body? Would you call her a distant acquaintance, an enemy, or your best friend?
Week Four: Hope
This week our theme is Hope Restored from chapter 4 of the book.
The title of this chapter is “Structural Stories.” Here we discussed stories that have shaped our core beliefs and how we view ourselves and the world. Many of you listening today have stories you could share about the pain and heartache you’ve experienced that was not your fault. I am so sorry. As I prepared for today’s episode I sensed God wants to restore your hope.
Journaling is a great way to process emotions and events. This practice can also help you notice themes in your life. If you find it hard to write long journal entries, try using bullet points instead.
What story in your life brings fear, doubt, or shame?
Journal about it. Look to God for help.
Week Five: Family
This week our theme is family from chapter 5 of the book. In this chapter, we discussed how our family of origin impacted our body image. The purpose of looking at our family is not to cast blame, but rather, to get healing and look for anything we do or don’t want to pass along to the next generations.
This chapter’s Therapist Thoughts:
An inner vow is often a promise we make to ourselves after being hurt or losing trust in someone. Though it feels like protection, it often brings more harm and barriers in relationships. Watch for words like never in your vocabulary to detect an inner vow.
As I prepared for today’s episode, I felt the Lord say there are two areas He wants to heal:
- Family relationships
- Inner vows you’ve believed or spoken. Even if your family doesn’t change, you have the power to draw a line in the sand and reclaim territory the enemy has wreaked havoc in for generations.
Isaiah 61:4, “The Lord rebuilds, restores, and renews that which was devastated for generations.”
God, what inner vow do I need to repent of and release to You today?
God, I give you …..(intercede in prayer for a specific family member)
Week Six: Heart
This week our theme is family from chapter 6 of the book. In this chapter, we discussed how trauma affects our body image. It was never God’s original design for His children to suffer the level of pain we endure today. That’s exactly why He sent Jesus to bear our pain and shame on the cross.
One thing I know for certain is that pain and suffering leave a mark on our hearts. But it doesn’t have to get the final word. Today, I feel God saying He wants to restore wounded hearts. When He restores something, it’s even better than it was before. It goes back to His original design, which is a heart both shaped and loved by Him.
Lord, what area of my heart do you want to restore today?
This chapter’s Therapist Thoughts:
“EMDR acts like a reset button for clients to reconnect to memories that once harbored intense feelings of shame, fear, and sorrow. The once-held belief that vulnerability is a weakness is replaced with growth, strength, and healing.” – Dr. Mary Dainty
Week Seven: Emotions
In this chapter, we discussed how emotions have a way of letting us know what’s happening in our hearts if we will stop long enough to listen. Emotions are not something we need to hide from, yet in order to stop and embrace them, we must normalize them. It’s all part of our divine design. We often avoid feeling out of fear that we can’t control our emotions. However, the more we practice feeling and expressing emotions, the more we give them an outlet to be expressed in a healthy way.
When a client pinpoints an emotion she is experiencing, I often ask, “Where do you feel that emotion in your body?” Sit for a moment, take three deep breaths, scan your body from head to toe, and notice where you feel any emotion.
God, do I have an incorrect view of my emotions?
What emotion am I feeling right now? Where do I feel that in my body?
Week Eight: Behaviors
“The diet industry puts a lot of effort into trying to help people change their habits through willpower and behavioral modifications. This top-down approach can be helpful for some people, but many people end up disillusioned, chasing one diet fad after another, because behavior modification alone is like trimming the top of a weed without getting all the roots. In contrast, a bottom-up approach addresses the root issues below the surface. With this approach, we switch directions, stop, take a deep breath, and invite God to show us His view of our bodies to make space for behaviors that come from our Creator’s core beliefs.” – Adapted from Dr. Shannon Crawford
Questions I get asked about body image include, but aren’t limited to, the following:
What’s a healthy weight for my body type?
Is it okay to weigh myself daily?
Should I count calories or carbohydrates?
Do I really need to exercise every day?
What do you consider overexercising?
These, along with more intimate questions, have one thing in common: behavior.
Here are my questions back to those women and you:
What is that behavior providing for you?
Is my behavior driven by faith or fear?
Before you make a decision about food, exercise, body image, or any other behavior in your life, ask yourself these questions:
Does this behavior glorify God in my body?
Is there any sin in this behavior?
Are there any unhealthy thoughts or motives directing this behavior?
Do I hide this behavior?
Is this behavior something I want to pass on to the next generation?
Week Nine: Worship
This chapter is about idols, but I don’t think God wants to restore our idols. In fact, He wants to demolish them so worship can be restored. We are designed to worship, the question is to what or who are we worshipping? God detests anything that comes between Him and us. The temple falls when idols enter because we turn our hearts away from the Lord and worship a god that can never meet our deepest needs.
Here’s the good news: God knew He would battle against idols to keep our hearts turned toward Him. This is just one more reason He sent Jesus to die for our sins. The answer to overcoming idols is letting Jesus access every area of our hearts. DON’T LET SHAME AND SECRETS KEEP YOU FROM RETURNING TO HIM TO REPENT OF YOUR SIN.
Shame is often associated with “should” statements. This is one type of distorted thinking that affects our decisions. These “shoulds” can often lead us to the land of neglect or obsession when not addressed. Try replacing “I should” with “I get to.”
God, what idols do I have in my heart? Stop and listen for his answer.
Week Ten: Identity
This chapter is about comparison and I felt God highlight this as an identity issue. When we are busy comparing ourselves to others, we fail to see who God created us to be.
Three Rs to breaking a comparison yardstick:
Body-checking is the habit of seeking (or avoiding) information about your body’s weight, shape, size, or appearance. A counselor can help if body-checking becomes problematic or interferes with your life, affects your eating habits, or becomes a way to control fear and anxiety about your body. When you find yourself body-checking, take a moment to check in with your heart and ask, “What am I looking for?”
Next time you compare, ask, what am I looking for?
What is missing in my heart that makes it hard for me to celebrate others?
Week Eleven: Motives
When motives go wrong, it’s an attack on our original design. This week our theme is Motives Restored from chapter 12 of my book, Image Restored.
People are not born with core beliefs; they are learned. What core beliefs have you learned about your body that God would love to rewrite?
One of the best questions I’ve learned to ask that uproots the mold in my heart is this: “Why are you chasing what you are chasing?”
Psalm 26:2, “Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind.”
Week Twelve: Real
Chapter 13 is actually about expectations, but I wanted to sit and have some real talk with you about why it’s important to be real with ourselves, God, and others about our expectations, fears, thoughts, emotions, or anything else that is weighing us down.
Two key quotes from this chapter:
“Stop comparing yourself to your younger self; she’s another woman.”
“My future grandchildren will not remember Grandma by my wrinkles or gray hair; instead, they will remember a woman who feared and praised the Lord.”
The brain is far more sophisticated than we realize. No one has to say that we are more valuable, special, or worthy when we are skinny or have a certain body type. Our brains automatically fill in the gaps when we see that those who get the most attention in the media are thin, youthful, attractive people. This leaves the brain constantly evaluating questions about our identity and worth through the lens of, How attractive, thin, or acceptable am I? This is incredibly stressful, as something as important as our worth as human beings is constantly being evaluated based solely on our outward appearance. On a sticky note, write words of affirmation to retrain your brain to focus on the truth from God’s Word. (Adapted from Dr. Shannon Crawford)
Expectations line: What expectations have you set that you are exhausted from trying to live up to?
Week Thirteen: Body
This chapter is about body restoration, but my heart for this episode is to emphasize that God cares about your body. After all, it was His idea and He called it “good.”
Do you think of your body as a friend, acquaintance, or an enemy? Learning to listen to your body starts with rebuilding trust in it and with God.
Two key quotes from this chapter:
“Your body is always speaking to you.”
“Where our minds go, our body and lives will follow.”
What does my thought process look like around my body?
How is my relationship currently with my body? Does it need to be restored?
Week Fourteen: Image
This week our theme comes from chapter 15 of Image Restored where we discuss how your unique design is a reflection of being made in God’s image.
What do you see when you look in the mirror? Write all the things that come to mind.
Strikethrough negative attributes and ask what God sees instead.
Circle positive attributes and ask God why He designed you that way.
Do you see Jesus reflected in your image?
Week Fifteen: Love
This week our theme comes from chapter 16 where we discuss God’s love and Jesus’ blood.
Psalm 103:8 says, “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” That phrase “abounding in love” can be expressed in a single Hebrew word, chesed, meaning “goodness, kindness.” This is only the tip of the iceberg in exploring the Bible and what we find about God’s love for us.
If we look at the character of God throughout all of Scripture, we see this theme of His goodness and kindness toward humanity. It’s a love that most of us don’t know from humans, yet God shows that love to us every day, no matter our failures or sins. He loves you, my friend.
“God’s love. You can’t buy it. You can’t lose it. It is unconditional, with no strings attached. It is not dependent on your looks or any measure of performance. Love can’t be earned. It’s freely given. You can find it anywhere. It’s for everyone. Including you, no matter who you are, where you’re from, or what you’ve done. His love covers it all.” – Dr. Linda Hoover
Ask the Lord how much He loves you.
Week Sixteen: Grace
This week our theme comes from chapter 17 where we discuss God’s grace.
“Take a moment to sit in the stillness of God’s presence. Imagine grace being freely poured over you like warm, fragrant oil. Breathe in deeply as it is absorbed into every thirsty cell. Notice any places where the oil does not soak in. Offer those areas to the Lord and allow His gentle grace to soften your soul until it is fully saturated and satisfied.” – Dr. Linda Hoover
The antidote to shame is grace.
2 Corinthians 12:9, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”