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One of the topics I’m most passionate about and have enjoyed writing most on Espresso and Cream has been body image. It’s been a while since I talked about anything related to body image, mainly because I find myself in a funny place lately in terms of my body. Joe often says that the things we struggle with the most are the areas in our life that God uses in the biggest ways to help others and connect with those in a similar place. I like to think that there is a lot of truth to that.

I snapped the photo above while trying on the items in my latest Stitch Fix. When I look at that photo a wave of sadness rushes over me. The girl in that photo is absolutely beautiful. She looks healthy and fit, alive and well. But when I snapped that photo, those aren’t the thoughts I had. I examined my body in that dress and evaluated it from every angle. And, I’m sad to say, I picked it apart.

Over the years I’ve come a long way in my journey to body acceptance, but there are still days when I look in the mirror and find flaws, both real and imagined, that prevent me from living and enjoying life to the fullest. One of my prayers lately has been that God would allow me to see myself more clearly and would continue to foster in me a spirit of self confidence. How am I doing this? I don’t have it all figured out, but this is where I’ve started:

1. Seek God and Study His Word: God has a lot to say about His creation! He’s incredibly passionate about His children and the beauty in each one of us. It’s something he talks about a lot in His word. I especially love what is said in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20:
Or 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.

2. Ask for Prayer: My husband is incredibly loving and supportive and a great resource for me. If I find that I’m starting to think negative thoughts about my body when getting ready for work or a date night, I ask Joe to pray with/over me, that God would protect my thoughts and allow me to live life fully. I’m not always good about doing this, but I’m working on it more and more. It’s amazing how differently I think after taking just a minute or two to bring my thoughts and emotions in front of God.

3. Just Move Forward: This probably sounds a little too simplistic, but sometimes it’s important to just get over myself and move on with my day. We all have those days when things just aren’t working, whether that is hair, makeup, the clothes we’re wearing, etc. But what’s been the most helpful to me in those moments is to say (out loud) “This is as good as it’s going to get today.” I can drive myself crazy obsessing over the imperfection I see, or move on with my day and enjoy it anyway.

There are a lot of women who are writing about a single topic this month, called the 31 Day Challenge. A whole month of posts based around a single topic. I love the idea of taking time each day to really write with thought and intention. Although I don’t have the capacity this month to participate in the full challenge, I hope to spend a little extra time and energy this month writing intentionally about body image and wellness in the spiritual, emotional, and physical sense. I welcome your thoughts, experiences and insights this month as I try my best to be a little bit more transparent and thoughtful in what I write!

Madison

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  • Lauren

    Amen! I really appreciate and resonate with the post. I would love to see more like this during the 31 day challenge. Thanks for this Biblical encouragement to start my day :)

  • TheBalancedLife

    Great post Madison! I always appreciate you spreading the body acceptance message. And I agree, sometimes it’s just better to get away from the mirror and move on with the day. Thanks for the encouragement :)

  • jesscuellar

    important post, madison. body image is still something i struggle with almost daily.

    http://semiweeklyeats.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-baby-cold.html

  • http://livefaithfully.blogspot.com/ Urban Wife

    You are always such an encouragement. Love your heart and willingness to share it.

  • Brindi B

    This post was perfect. And as I looked at your photo I thought of all the ways you look good and I don’t. And I KNOW that’s not true!! We’re are toughest critics. Keep up the encouragement; God’s word and talking with Him through prayer works wonders.

  • Erica

    Thank you for this post. My acne has been flaring up again lately and it’s really been bringing my self esteem down. Sometimes I think to myself, “How vain are you?! You’re not supposed to let this bother you!” and have to remind myself that acne is a very real problem that doesn’t go away overnight. It’s also much less obvious to other people than it is to me when I’m staring at it an inch away from the mirror. My husband often says he wishes I could see myself through his eyes instead of my own. I love him for his constant acceptance and encouragement, and it’s nice to see it on the internet too (in the form of lovely blogs like yours).

  • Cara

    I needed to read this today! I have been catching myself lately thinking negative things about my body and am working to take every thought captive and replace the lies with truth. I too have implemented the “just move forward” plan. It’s been so freeing!

  • http://www.youngmarriedchic.com/ Kris

    The first thing I thought when I first saw this photo (before this post went up) was, “Wowza! She looks hot in that dress.” We are always our worst critic… you look incredible. xx, K

  • Emily Jensen

    I like your point about “just moving forward”…even though it seems a little simplistic, some days this is the best technique! This NLT translation of Philippians 4:8 says it well, “Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Sometimes that means just accepting how we look that day, and not dwelling on it!

  • Kayleigh

    Thanks for the reminders. I love when you write about body image, it’s a tough thing to deal with sometime.

  • natalie@thesweetslife

    I love love love that this is your ‘platform’ so to speak! I have been through this same mental issue so many times and you nailed it–the way we see ourselves is not how others see us. It’s a whole new journey now that I’m pregnant and learning to appreciate THIS body (and it was no easy journey to get here…lots of dying to self and these terrible lies i believed about myself! if you ever need encouragement (or to vent) please don’t hesitate to email me!

  • http://www.rachelslookbook.com/ Rachel

    First of all, I know it doesn’t mean much coming from someone you barely know, but you are STUNNING. I always thought so when I knew you at ISU too. Like the perfect girl, brains, beauty, perfect body.

    But I know exactly where you are coming from and even with a supportive partner (my boyfriend has always thought I am beautiful and tells me so) I also have been struggling severely with body image lately. It has always been a struggle, but been much worse lately than normal. I can’t say for sure what set it off, except for a lot of extra stress + fashion blogging. I have had a hard time not comparing myself to others… especially looking at how tiny and perfect some fashion bloggers seem to be, which really is not a good thing. I was made differently than others and I should be happy that I’m healthy! I think I need to do more praying because I have been falling short on that lately and I think it would bring me peace. I also obsess over every little detail, but I have been getting better at dealing with it and moving on and having something to look forward to in my day that does not focus on the flaws I saw earlier.

    I will pray for you! I know how awful it is to feel this way about yourself, it can literally ruin your mood and day. I hope you can find your confidence and be at peace with your image.

  • Erin

    Thanks so much, this is something I’ve been struggling with a lot too lately. It’s so hard to avoid comparing yourself to others, and to value yourself for your own uniqueness – and your honesty is so refreshing. I think it can be easy to present a sort of airbrushed version of life online and through social media, and I really appreciate how genuine you are! :)

  • http://www.mixingbowlgal.com/ CBroyhill

    Thank you for this beautiful message. I think that every woman can relate to this. Studying and living out God’s Word is the only way we will ever come close to seeing ourselves as the King sees each one of us. I can’t wait to share this with my small group of high school girls. Such a relevant and powerful message for them to hear in high school! Thank you for your intentional and honest words :-)

    • MadisonMayberry

      Christine, you are so right! I think the ultimate goal in all of this body image talk would be to see myself the way God sees me. Some days that feels far away, and other days its a little easier. But it’s certainly something to continue to pursue because it’s so worth it. Thanks for the comment and encouragement! :)

      • http://www.mixingbowlgal.com/ CBroyhill

        I had to share this with you, Madison. This is today’s devo from Jesus Calling. It is so fitting with this post and for what I’m sure has been on a lot of gal’s hearts.

        “Beware of seeing yourself through other people’s eyes. There are several dangers to this practice. First of all, it is nearly impossible to discern what others actually think of you. Moreover, their views of you are variable: subject to each viewer’s spiritual, emotional, and physical condition. The major problem with letting others define you is that it borders on idolatry. Your concern to please others dampens your desire to please Me, your Creator.

        It is much more real to see yourself through My eyes. My gaze upon you is steady and sure, untainted by sin. Through My eyes you can see yourself as one who is deeply, eternally loved. Rest in My loving gaze, and you will receive deep Peace. Respond to My loving Presence by worshiping Me in spirit and in truth.”

        Have a blessed Saturday!

        • Madison Mayberry

          Thank you so much for that! I love Jesus Calling. Isn’t it the best devotional? Thanks for the great truth this morning. :)

  • treasureandheart

    such a great message! i have been thinking lately of the same thing, and wanting to find more things in my life to be thankful and grateful for..including my body. i just wrote about it today in fact. Thanks for sharing this! http://www.treasureandheart.wordpress.com

    • MadisonMayberry

      What a great post! Just got a chance to read it, and I love the idea of taking time to express and focus on gratitude. Sometimes I get so focused on to-do lists, tasks and what is going wrong that I forget to focus on how much we have going right in our lives. Wonderful reminder. :)