Reason # 957 why I LOVE my school: Trevecca isn’t afraid to bring up the scary “not for church” topics. Let me explain:
This week some super cool visitors were on campus. Making up the “Sex and Skinny Tour,” Constance Rhodes and Nate Larkin spoke in chapel on Tuesday and then again tonight for a “Common Grounds” conversation. This duo attacks the issues that affect today’s men and women most, but the issues that are also the least talked about. PORN AND BODY IMAGE. Yeah, I just said PORN in my blog. Crazy. Moving on…
Nate spoke honestly about his struggle with pornography, about how he didn’t tell a soul during his teen years, how it tore apart his marriage, how he felt like he was the only one. He went on to tell about how he eventually found help, how he resisted temptation, and how he was finally made clean through Christ. Next, it was Constance’s turn. Her story was similar to most girls. She was trapped in a constant battle with weight and body image—the “thin cage” she called it. Constance would restrict herself, but then crave food so bad that she’d binge. She didn’t consider herself to be a victim of an eating disorder, but instead, a “disordered eater.” I wanted to stand up and say “ME TOO, Constance, ME TOO!”
My relationship with food, like hers, is warped. Food is my friend, but also my worst enemy. Food can make me feel so good, but then make me feel disgusting and gross. I can stand in a mirror in horror for an awfully long time, picking a part every little thing that “will never be good enough.” Wide hips, pointy nose, fat arms, weird chin…I am a master “mirror avoider” when I want to be. I know I’m not alone, but until Constance spoke so honestly, I hadn’t heard this story before, except in my own head.
She had some beautiful attacks to the ugly words that fill my brain. For example, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” I also love Proverbs 31:30—“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” WE ARE NOT OUR OWN! We are His and we are here to bring glory to Him, but, to be honest, even that doesn’t always calm the battle that consumes me on most days.
Constance dug a little further. She said that the “food issue” was just the surface of the problem, the tip of the iceberg. That’s the easy thing to spot, but what’s deeper is often not uncovered. She was 37 and 15 years into her marriage until she was able to label it—fear, shame, loneliness. The feeling of never being good enough, the fear of failure, the wearing of a “personality mask”—I could relate to it all.
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m always on the go. I have everything planned out from my day, week, and even where I want to be in 15 years. It’s like I’m on a journey to perfection, but why?? I clearly have a control problem. I know that I need to hand the reigns over to God and sometimes I try, but it seems easier on most days to just get it done myself. The one thing I can’t seem to control is this ugly relationship with food. And, the more I reflect on the past few years and my ups and downs, victories and losses with food, the more I see how every other aspect of my life is intertwined. Not being able to hand control over to God means that I cannot trust; spending more time thinking about food and dieting than I do praying or calling my little sister on the phone. Feeling unworthy, never being good enough… Is this who I want to be? When I’m dead, will anyone be saying “if only Shelbe was 10 pounds lighter?” Oh goodness, I hope not!!
It’s super hard for me to be this honest. This is a constant conversation that I have only with myself, but never with other people (maybe my mom, but only because she’s the best listener and I know she’s as crazy as me!). I loved the sincerity that I witnessed tonight, though, so I thought keeping the talk open could only do good things. The church can’t ignore hard issues. With 70% of men viewing porn sites on a regular basis and the average age of first time porn viewers at 11, it would be crazy to keep this topic out of Sunday mornings! Christians might not address it, but you better believe that the secular world will.
Trevecca is a community that I am beyond blessed to be a part of. I am thankful to be comfortable enough to be so honest, thankful for a faculty that invites neat people like Constance and Nate to campus, and thankful for a God who has already won the battle for me. I just need to trust in Him to calm my heart and clear my eyes.
My fight with food obviously won’t end tonight, but my mind is spinning with prayers that need to be said and conversations with close friends that need to take place. I am not just a number; I’m so much more than that, and so are you. I’ll share one more amazing thing that Constance brought up tonight and then leave you all alone—“Satan has won if we are consumed in a battle with ourselves inside our own heads. If he can restrict us to only fighting ourselves, then we cannot share the Good News of the Kingdom, and that is what we are here on earth to do.” If you made it this far, then thank you thank you for reading my ramble. If you want to know more about the awesome impact that the Sex and Skinny Tour is making, then head over to sexandskinnytour.com or visit Constance’s website at findingbalance.com.