Today in my scripture study of 2 Peter, I read this:
“They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.” (2:19)
After reading, I asked myself the dangerous question, “What is overcoming me right now?” The answer came too quickly.
The bikini. The “evil” bikini.
Let me explain.
For the past couple of months, I’ve been really active. I have finally gotten over the wall of working out and am at the point where I enjoy it so much!
For the past 18 months of Riley’s life (ok fine, the past 12) I have struggled to try and get back into a good rhythm with exercise. Until now. Now, I’ve got my rhythm going on! I work out 6 days a week, and legitimately have to force myself to take a day off because I am loving it so much. My overall energy levels have increased by about a million percent! Ask my husband, there has been a dramatic increase in my energy. I feel great! I love moving. I’ve even been looking for extra opportunities to walk or swim or run around and play with Riley in addition to my daily workouts. I wasn’t sure this kind of relationship with exercise was even possible.
So that is great, right? I’ve been healthy and happy and free.
Until I decided to set a certain goal.
Jordan and I are leaving this Monday for a little getaway to the Outer Banks, just the two of us (!!!!!!!!). Since I had been in such a good routine of working out (and have been encouraged by the results from it), I thought hey, I should try to fit into a bikini in time for our getaway!
(Sidenote: I recently read that women who workout for their looks are less likely to keep their workout routine, whereas women who workout for the quality of life are far more likely to stick to it.)
There is nothing wrong with setting goals, setting goals is a good thing. For the most part. It really depends on what the purpose of the goal is. We must be careful when a goal threatens to overtake us, consume our thoughts, and eventually enslave us.
First of all, let’s talk about the fact that I didn’t really even wear bikini’s before getting pregnant (except for on my honeymoon), even when I was in really great pre-baby shape. That is a decision that is up to each person, it’s not something I judge, I just personally felt uncomfortable in one. I felt too naked and self conscious and just preferred to feel less aware of my body when I wanted to have a relaxing time at the pool or beach.
So the fact that this would be a goal for me is a bit strange. I just had this image of looking super, crazy hot on the beach with my husband on our little getaway.
But then I started to notice that I wasn’t enjoying my workouts as much. I would have a bit of a runner’s high or feel the endorphins from strength training, only to sink and feel defeated as soon as I looked in the mirror afterwards and pictured myself in a bikini. I knew I couldn’t work much harder than I was already working (my workouts have been intense). I knew I was eating really healthy. So I would just kind of feel like a failure. Discouraged when I thought about being on the beach. (Umm, hello, I am going to the freaking OUTER BANKS with my husband JUST THE TWO OF US! Why should there be anything but joy and excitement and encouragement at that thought?)
Throughout the day every day I would find myself evaluating the reflection in the mirror, assessing whether or not I was “bikini ready” and wondering what other people would think when they see me on the beach.
So today, I threw out the goal of the bikini. I realized that my husband is super attracted to me already. I feel confident wearing anything in front of him. It’s other people I’m worried about. But what right do they have? Really, no one has the right to look at my body and evaluate it, or ascribe any sort of worth (or lack of) to it. No one. It is precious, and beautiful, and already taken (by the Lord and my husband). So why should I wear something anyway, that allows (or perhaps even invites) them to? I’m not theirs to judge.
The first part of the verse in 2 Peter. “They promise freedom…” It’s so true. How many of the things that we are enslaved to promise us freedom when in fact, they provide us with the opposite?
There is this dangerous, popular and prevalent lie in our culture right now that being skinny offers freedom. No matter how many times I think I have seen the lie for what it is and have moved past it, I still find myself buying it. Come on ladies, tell me you know what I’m talking about. “If only I ____________ (lost 5 lbs, toned up, fit in my skinny jeans, could confidently wear a bikini), I would feel so free!”
But it is a lie. There is no freedom in that. Even if we accomplish our goals. These selfish desires create an insatiable thirst. It overcomes us, enslaving us. And leaving us wanting.
I’ll be honest with you, I have pursued many of the paths that this world offers with the false promise of freedom. I’ve tried most them. And they do not deliver.
There is only one path that I have ever taken in life that has actually delivered the promise to freedom.
It is the path of a life given fully to Jesus. The path of surrender. Of realizing just how broken I am. How I need something… someOne to change me. The path of accepting the blood that was shed in my place, and worshiping the One who shed it. The path of peace, in being fully known and fully loved. The path of hope. The hope of all things being made new (Revelation 21).
That is truly the only place I have ever found freedom.
There is no freedom from being able to fit into a bikini. That is a lie, don’t buy it. It’s a trick.
I bought it. And I want my
money soul back.
The truth is, whether or not I fit into a bikini on Monday, I am entirely known and entirely accepted. My life has been bought at the highest price, God’s own Son. The highest value possible has already been spoken over me. My heart, soul, and body are wanted. They are claimed. And they are satisfied in Him only.
Last week a new friend said to me, “You look great. I don’t want you stressing over being skinny.” I hadn’t said anything to her about my inner battle with the bikini. It was as if she just knew. As she is currently facing a battle in life far far greater than mine, I know that there is a clarity in her ability to see what matters. That she has the gift of seeing things for what they really are in life. And that there is truth dripping from her words. What a gift her words are to me.
I don’t know what I will end up wearing to the beach this week. But it doesn’t matter. I might as well wear a burlap sack! Anything I was hoping to accomplish through my goal, has already been accomplished through Christ. There is not one thing in this world, not one single achievement, that will ever bring me freedom. Freedom is already mine. I already have access to it. I just have to realize it and choose it.
When I fix my eyes on Jesus and stop buying the petty lies that the world offers me, I experience freedom so deep and profound, I dare not even attempt to describe it.
I pray that one day I will be an 80 year old woman sitting on the beach with a smile on her face. Not threatened by the youth surrounding me, but completely free. Free in knowing who I am and whose I am.
There is no other true freedom.
Now excuse me while I go gear up for a morning run! For the purpose of being healthy and honoring God with taking good care of my body, not so I can audition for Pretty Wicked Moms (I know, right?!). 🙂
Sidenote: In case there is any confusion, bikinis are not actually evil.