Did anyone ever make fun of your appearance growing up? For most of my life, I was the skinniest kid in my class, so I heard a lot of teasing. I often heard things like “you need to eat a sandwich” or “man, drink a milkshake or something.” I never had any real bullies in school, but I had my fair share of people laugh and make fun of me for my size and appearance.
I wish I could say that their words didn’t hurt me, but they did. I felt like I was less than a man compared to some of my more muscular, athletic friends. And I wish I could say things were different at church, but they weren’t. In fact, some of the most hurtful comments came from brothers in Christ. Ironically, at church, I was learning about how my body was a temple of the Holy Spirit. But at home and school, I was constantly dwelling on how much I disliked the temple God have given me. Dislike may be too soft of a word. In reality, I hated my body at times.
For a long time, I thought I was the only guy who felt this way. Boy was I wrong. As I got older, I realized that most guys struggle with body insecurities. And it doesn’t matter how old they are, how much muscle they have, or what their body fat percentage is. Every guy has something about their bodies they wish they could change. It is no exaggeration that men think if we could just change that one thing then all of our problems in life would be solved. But, I can tell you from experience that this simply isn’t true.
Men, the only thing that can free us from self-hatred is to understand how God sees us. Whether we look like Gumby or Hercules, God says that we are all made in His image. Masculinity cannot be obtained. It doesn’t come through bench presses or dead lifts; it is part of our identity. We are masculine because God created us this way.
The Bible says that Jesus “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him (Isaiah 53:2).” Nowhere in the Gospels does it say that Jesus was handsome or had a six pack, even though some artists depict Him in this way. That doesn’t mean He was “ugly.” But it does tell us that Jesus didn’t need good looks in order to do the will of the Father. Jesus didn’t need a strong jaw line and winning smile to be the sacrifice for my sins. I have yet to see Jesus face to face, but I already know that His beauty is beyond compare because of who He is and what He has done for me.
If our eyes are fixed on the cross, brothers, that leaves no time for us to look in the mirror. We should devote time to exercise and taking care of our bodies, as this pleases the Lord. I have come to really enjoy working out as a family. But we should devote our entire lives to becoming more godly, more like the God-man Jesus (1 Timothy 4:8). There will be days we struggle with our body image, but we will be more prepared to deal with them if we’ve been devoting ourselves to the Lord.
Finally brothers, a few suggestions:
- Know God loves you. It is He who created You for His glory. He knit you together in your mother’s womb.
- Lift up your fellow brother more than you lift a weight.
- Don’t include or exclude someone based on their appearance.
- Repent of any self-hatred. Ask God to help you see yourself the way He sees you.
- Forgive people who had said hurtful things. It is likely they are battling insecurity as well.
- Rejoice in the truth that one day we will be given resurrection bodies, unmarred by our sin.