Restoring our self worth
I was challenged a few weeks ago by an article in the Metro, talking about our reliance on personal trainers and other sorts of ‘lifestyle coaches’ to help us improve our self-image.
There’s nothing wrong of course with trying to keep ourselves fit (the reason I don’t is more to do with apathy than any rooted objection to the concept!), but what is more worrying is the growing desire to be something we’re not.
We’re bombarded with images that suggest we need to be a thinner, better looking, richer, healthier and happier and this can so easily undermine the unique quality that God has created in us. God hasn’t made us the way we are by accident, nor does he despise us because we’re not as fit/physically attractive/rich/clever or whatever than the next person: he loves us just the way we are (which again isn’t my excuse for being maybe just a few pounds above my optimum weight!).
The health and fitness industry in Britain, the article told me, is worth about £4billion a year, and about 460,000 people practise yoga (even if the article couldn’t spell ‘practise’!). We spend about £60million a year on selfhelp books: though that figure, you’ll not be surprised to learn, is 1% of what they spend on them in the USA!
Dr Sheri Jacobson of Harley Therapy was quoted in the article as blaming the rise in hired support on the loss of social structures. ‘Churches and community groups are all on the wane’, she says. ‘We are really pack animals, designed for social interaction.’
Whilst I’m not sure I like being described as a ‘pack animal’, those of us that are ‘plugged into’ a church benefit hugely from that sense of being part of a community. The church is a great place to fulfil that clear desire we have for ‘social interaction’. As a church community we are able to affirm each other and to learn a God-driven sense of values.
By all means keep your body in good shape as the Temple of the Holy Spirit, but don’t allow what you are, or what you aspire to be, to be driven by external factors like how good we look or how healthy we are. God has made us to be what we are, and let’s rejoice in it: and let’s enjoy being a great community together rather than a bunch of individuals.
If you’re not part of a church community, give it a go. Parts of the church may be on the wane, but others are anything but: they are lively, vibrant and growing communities that, with God’s help, are able to help you restore your own sense of self worth.