In today’s day and age, body dysmorphia is increasingly becoming more common, especially among those who are labeled Generation Z.
What exactly is “body dysmorphia”?
A simple definition is “a mental illness involving obsessive focus on a perceived flaw in appearance”.
Many people who struggle with body dysmorphia struggle with leaving their house. Going to social events cause anxiety because of their perceived physical flaw.
These people may have an issue with being overweight and they will obsessively stare at themselves numerous times in the mirror. These people may know that proper diet and exercise will help them lose weight, but either they lack motivation or they literally just cannot diet and exercise for whatever reason.
This is a real and serious mental illness and Christians need to show people with this disorder compassion and empathy.Tweet
Some causes for body dysmorphia are environmental or chemical imbalance in the brain. For some people with body dysmorphia, they may need medication and counseling to treat it.
I believe the Gospel can really help someone with this disorder have a better sense of self.
I am not saying we should look to God’s word as a self-help book for better self-esteem because that is not what His word is there for. However, there are certain truths taught plainly in Scripture that if one were to truly believe them it will have a positive effect on your self-esteem naturally.
In this blog, I will attempt to talk about some ways the Gospel helps someone with body dysmorphia.
I believe the truths of the Gospel affect our self-esteem in two fundamental ways:
- 1) Identity
- 2) Purpose
I will now elaborate on each of these points but I would like to first say if you or someone you know struggles with body dysmorphia, please seek professional mental health help immediately. It may seem harmless in the beginning but if this is allowed to fester it will become worse over time. There is no shame in seeking help for a mental health issue.
The Bible actually does have a lot to say about one’s identity. Both as creatures made in God’s image and as people who are in Christ. For example, in Genesis 1:27, we read,
“So God creates man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
Bible scholars and theologians have called this the “imago dei” which means the image of God. As God’s image bearers, both man and woman have the privilege of reflecting the glory of God.
Can you imagine that?
No matter who you are and no matter where you are in the world, you reflect the glory of God!
It doesn’t matter what you look like or sound like. All men and women, from conception until natural death, reflect the glory of God. No race, ethnicity, gender, political affiliation, family of origin, socioeconomic status, or anything else will ever be able to tarnish this truth.
I find it amazing how God created only human beings to reflect His glory. This means human beings have intrinsic value and dignity and worth that nothing else has.
Also, in Psalm 8:3-4 we read,
“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? “
This text should cause your jaw to drop and if it does not, then you need to meditate on this for awhile. The infinite Creator of the entire cosmos cares about us! Human beings are very insignificant in the entire universe, yet God actually says that the little insignificant little details of our lives matter to Him!
If that does not grab you then the next verses will. In verses 5-6 we read,
“Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet…”
Now, I understand this text ultimately is about Jesus, but I also believe it is about human beings whom God created too, especially those who belong to Christ.
This leads me to my next point.
For those who are in Jesus Christ, we have even MORE of a reason to have a healthy positive self-esteem about ourselves.
In 1 Peter 2:9-10 we read,
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
As Christians, redeemed by Jesus Christ’s work on the cross, we are seen by God as holy.
The word “holy” means “set apart for God”. So while the rest of the world is common, we are considered specifically set apart for God. We are also considered to be royalty in God’s eyes. Every Christian should consider himself or herself a prince or a princess in God’s kingdom because we belong to Jesus Christ.
This definitely should affect how we view ourselves and how we allow others to view us too. We are God’s very own possession too. This means that if all humans have intrinsic value and dignity because of being made in the image of God, how much more do Christians have intrinsic value and dignity too?
The truth about our identity of being made in God’s image and belonging to Jesus has another effect on our self-esteem and that is our sense of purpose. If you go back to the passage I cited in 1 Peter 2:9-10, you should notice the section in there where it says,
“…that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
Our purpose on this earth is to tell as many people as we can about what the Lord Jesus Christ has done in order to make peace between us and God. People are dying every day without any hope in this world because they do not know the Gospel. We should be on the front lines going out there to tell people how they can be made right with God.
In John 17:3 we read,
“And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
We were created to be in everlasting communion with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I like how the Westminster Larger Catechism puts it when it says,
“The chief end of man is to glorify and enjoy God forever.”Tweet
We will never be fully satisfied and content until our hearts are fully satisfied and content with knowing Jesus Christ. I am not talking about an intellectual knowledge either. No, when the Bible talks about “to know”, it is referring to an intimacy that is only known in personal relationships.
One of the Church fathers once said something along the lines of “our hearts will forever be at unrest until we find rest in Thee”. How true is that?
I thank you for taking the time to read this blog and I hope you find it to be edifying to you and I hope it glorifies God. May the grace of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ richly bless you all!
-David Lee Chu Sarchet
Christian Mental Health Advocate
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