Eight Christmas parties in seven days. Fun, right? Can I just tell you that we have some friends who are foodies and, well, wow have I consumed some massive quantities of calories lately.
So, this morning when I had the privilege of stepping on the scales at the doctor’s office… (“We’ll just get a quick weight check…” She said it so matter of fact. Argh.) Let’s just say I considered closing my eyes and not looking at that number.
You see, I have a problem. Peppermint bark is my nemesis; those Ghirardelli squares, my kryptonite. Cookie exchanges, gifts of sweet bread, and leftover hors d’oeuvres with enough fat in them to make a Big Mac look like a kale salad always make a mark on my December.
What Christmas usually means to my body image issues is a solid five weeks of regularly sucking in my stomach in order to get my trusty black holiday pants fastened while repeating this phrase to myself, “I’ll start eating better after New Year’s…” The dieter’s mantra. Old habits die hard.
Do you do this, too?
I’m not going to fa la la la la around the issue. Christmas isn’t the most wonderful time of the year for my body image issues. I feel puffier than my neighbor’s inflatable Frosty the Snowman for four weeks straight.
But this weekend, while sorting the small mass of gifts I had haphazardly hidden in our bedroom closet, I listened to my favorite Pandora holiday station. (Okay, I’ll admit it, it’s the Mariah Carey All I Want for Christmas is You station. Yes, I’m quite the traditionalist. Please don’t judge.).
There I sat in the closet. I sang along to a little Mariah, a few traditional carols, and a little George Michael (“Last Christmas I gave you my heart but the very next day…” Come on, I love that one too…).
Then, I heard it.
A song I had probably sung hundreds of times in my forty years of Christmases. But, on this day, I really heard the words. It was different. This Christmas carol somehow had a message for me and my ongoing battle with the scale’s digital read out.
‘Til he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
Christmas speaks to those of us who don’t feel very beautiful during the holidays. Christmas tells us that we don’t have to search for value in our appearance or strive to look more like the musical starlet singing Santa Baby in order to experience peace and joy.
Instead Christmas tells us that our meaning arrived with him.
Our value was determined that morning–in a stable.
Our freedom slept in a manger.
Our purpose can be traced back to that one night divine.
The soul felt its worth only when he appeared. Christmas answers our heart’s deepest questions like, “Am I enough?” in a way that nothing else possibly could.
The truth in this song can actually last us all year long. Our soul can rest confidently in him beyond just the advent season. Because of Christmas he can now appear whenever we struggle with our value. Like…
- When you see her and know that you could never look that good in holiday dress and are plagued with thoughts of body hatred.
- When you feel condemned for finishing off the egg nog and the homemade fudge and swirl in regret and uncertainty as to how to possess greater self-control.
- When he makes the confession he’s been looking at something he shouldn’t and you panic with the fear that he’ll never be attracted to you again because you aren’t (anywhere close to) that.
- Or, when the mirror tells you that your abs look more like Santa’s than the sugar plum fairy’s and you are tempted to let its assessment define you.
To each of these thoughts Christmas says: You are valuable because I came for you. That is enough.
My encouragement to you today: Don’t let your holiday be marked by feelings of insecurity and doubt. Instead, I pray that Christmas will fill you with the joy of knowing you are accepted, approved of, and loved beyond what you measure. And that you’ll experience Christmas as a new and glorious morning in your body image struggles.
Let this season be the time where you find new freedom in understanding your full acceptance in our Savior and your value in what he did for you.
Oh holy night!
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. . .
“Oh Holy Night”