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I’m Jennifer — wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, new book author. I believe in you, because I believe in Jesus. You matter to Him, and you matter to me. more »

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Thursday 8th October 2015

When A Bodybuilding Challenge Ruins Your Image

God's love is unfailing

One of my great joys of serving you as a blogger, is introducing you to some great new voices that I’ve found out on the Internet. Rachel Britz is one of those voices. She’s down-to-earth, relatable, and kind-hearted. And, she’s from right here in the Midwest. 🙂 It’s a pleasure to welcome Rachel Britz from Minnesota to the blog today. Say hello to Rachel!

When A Bodybuilding Challenge Ruins Your Image
By Rachel Britz

God's love is unfailing

A few years ago my husband came to me with an idea. He was looking for permission, really. For his 40th birthday he wanted to challenge himself to a total body transformation and partake in the regiment, work out, and diet of a bodybuilder. He said it was something he had always wanted to do. At first, I didn’t know what to say. I mean, I’ve always supported his dreams and I’ve tried to be his biggest cheerleader in new adventures. But this, this felt very different.

I should begin by telling you that my husband’s dedication to exercise and working out has sometimes been a sticky issue in our marriage. I think it’s fair to say, in our early years of marriage, I needed to learn how to surrender my attempts to control what he did with his free time. I’ve also had to learn how to become less dependent of his time and attention, and embrace the things that bring him healthy enjoyment. I quickly discovered that once I surrendered this control, I gained a deeper understanding of him, and that was a very good thing.

But this challenge was different and it tripped me up in new and unexpected ways.

Day 1: post announcement. I cried the whole day. Overwrought with feelings of sadness and, yes, fear. It was then that I realized there was something much deeper being unearthed.

The Lord was calling me into my own bodybuilding challenge.

I know from the outside, my overwhelming emotional response to all of this may seem irrational, stupid, and out-of-line. But, in those first few months I came to discover many deep, hidden thoughts about myself that I never realized before.

Day 90: the Lord spoke very clearly to me saying, “Write a letter, Love.”

So that’s what I did. I poured my heart out, page after page. And when I was finished, I understood the terrible conclusion:

– I have an awful body image.

– I have a deep, deep fear that one day my husband will be grossed out with my image.

– Because of this great fear, I’ve believed that when he is no longer pleased with me he will eventually look to other women to fill the void. Women who are younger, women who are in better physical shape than me, women who have the same “work out” passion as he.

Lies, lies and more lies. The reality is that these great fears have no basis. He’s never inclined such a thought or spoken such a word. Yet, these lies make me feel like I can’t keep up, I’ll never measure up to this standard (the one I have created)… and so, surely, eventually the great fears will come to pass.

So, through a lot of prayer, late night weeping, and continually handing over my fears, I’d come to accept that this “circumstance” was being used by God to transform me from within. A “Body Building” challenge. It’s what the writer, Paul talks about in Romans 12:2.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”

This was an identity crisis for me. For the first time, I recognized the towering idol of lies within my mind and the manner in which God was using to tear them down. And because this was about something God wanted to heal and restore within me, He was ultimately using the “circumstance” of my husband’s personal challenge to reach the depths of my inner self. This, I realized, had the potential to make me more like Christ or, quite opposite, the ability to devour me whole.

Renewing your mind takes time. And so, it required me to cling to the Word for assurance. I fought to reduce my dependence on my husband’s approval of me and cling to my worth in the eyes of Jesus. Every day I knelt. Every day He met me. Slowly, as the old lies began to crumble, I began to gird up the courage to see myself with new eyes. I came to realize that even if the great fears came to pass, my identity could never be altered because my hope was secure.

“Though the mountains be shaken or the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10

Praise the Lord, He gave me eyes to see that nothing, no great fear, no circumstance beyond my control can ever remove His great love from me.

Perhaps you’re going through a bodybuilding challenge of your own. I want to encourage you to think through your thoughts and emotions. What circumstance has got you twisted up inside? And then, take time to sit and “Write a letter, Love.”

Let’s pray together, friends.

Jesus, you know the depths of pain we carry beneath our chest. The ways we have put our hope and trust in our worldly identity. Expose the lies we’ve believed to be true. Burn them up and heal us with restoring Words of Truth. Teach us to know our worth and value in You, oh Lord. May we learn to surrender our great fears in exchange for the promise of unfailing love and peace. Amen

RachelBritz Rachel Britz is a compassionate friend, storyteller, and advocate for those in seasons of grief, loss, and transition. She is a faith and inspiration blogger, World Vision ambassador, and cookie baker. She is the author of Good-Bye, Lover a Christian historical novel based in Ireland. Rachel is passionate about helping Christians live life with freedom and purpose. She lives in Minnesota with her husband and three kids.

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  • Two of my favorite people in one place! Rachel, thank you for being so vulnerable in this piece. It made me think I probably need to write a letter too. But the main thing I took away from it was the way you listened to your tears and pressed in to discover the reason for your emotional response. I think listening is so important for moving forward with what God has for us. Thanks for illustrating that here.

    • Oh, dear Shelly, always encouraging! Thank you. For me, the process of writing a letter creates a slowed down pace of really sitting and listening. It can be painful to do that sometimes. Through it, the gift of awareness always causes me to either surrender or act accordingly. Xoxo

  • Caryn Jenkins Christensen

    Rachel, I found myself relating to your feelings of insecurity. My husband is a runner. He challenges himself by adding extra miles and ends up running for hours! On the other hand, the gym and I are pretty much strangers. I prefer to spend my time doing more sedentary, yet no less valuable, activities.
    Like your situation, in the past, our differences have caused more than a few disagreements. Thankfully, my husband has never ever intimated that he is displeased with my body…but like you, that hasn’t stopped me from believing the enemy’s lies about my own image.
    I really like the verse you chose to illustrate God’s never-ending love for us. Thank you so much for sharing such a vulnerable part of yourself so that others might be encouraged.

    • Thank you, Caryn. This verse was what God used to do a good work in me; helping me to realize that even if my great fear came to pass, that He was gonna remain the same faithful, loving Father.

  • I find that whenever I feel a strong opposition to something, and when that opposition feels like fear rather than discernment, it usually means there is something in my own heart that needs deep attention. Thanks for sharing your story here, I always need the reminder to renew my mind, it’s I guess the mind-building work that makes so much impact on all parts of our lives.

    • “I always need the reminder to renew my mind…” So true. Thanks, Devi.

There are days when you don't know if you can write another book. Then there are days when you remember why you do. Thank you, Tiffany! twitter.com/gulledgetiffan…