ep. 99 Body Image

Alexandria Ford

ep. 99 | Body Image with Alexandria Ford

On today’s episode of the Journeywomen podcast, I’m chatting with Dr. Alexandria Ford about body image. I’m pretty sure I’ve said this every week during our series on living in light of redemption, but let me just say, if you’re struggling with body image--solidarity! I’ve been there. In this episode, Alex helps us understand how the whole person matters to God, that he has created us in his image, and that he has created every aspect of our being with a purpose. 

This conversation really helped me understand that recognizing the importance of human embodiment is necessary in order to fully understand who God has created us to be, especially when it comes to challenging topics, such as body image.

  1. Who are you and what do you do?

  2. Can you help us establish a biblical foundation for understanding the physical body?

  3. How is a person and their physical body understood in light of the gospel (creation, fall, redemption, and consummation)?

  4. What happens when that view becomes distorted?

  5. What are some signs that might indicate we are wrestling with a distorted view of our body or that we struggle with body image?

  6. If we’ve struggled with these things in the past, is there a way we can break free of such struggles on this side of eternity? What does it look like to wrestle well with such realities on this side of heaven?

  7. What is the hope that we have to look forward to in the new heavens and the new earth?

  8. If we’re struggling to view our bodies rightly, what should our response be? How might we begin to seek help?

  9. If we have a friend or a disciple who we suspect might be struggling with body image, what is a gentle way we might go about addressing that with her in love?

  10. How can we trust the saving power of Christ and seek support from the Body of Christ as we navigate life with struggles like a negative view of ourselves?

THREE QUESTIONS I ASK EVERY GUEST

  1. Do you have any resources you’d recommend for those of us who want to grow in this area?

  2. What are your 3 simple joys?

  3. Who has had the greatest impact on your own journey with Jesus?

NOTEWORTHY QUOTES

“We want to start with who God says we are, rather than who we think we should be.” 

“We’ve been created in the image of God. This includes the totality of who we are.”

“We are designed to be God’s image bearers and representatives in the world.”

“We’ve been created with a soul. We have a material component which is our body and an immaterial component which is our soul.”

“He’s created us as whole people for his glory.”

“We’ve been created in the image of God and this should be what defines our body image.”

“The reality of being created with a physical body is often referred to as ‘human embodiment.’ Scripture also reveals we’ve been created as engendered - as male or female. And we are also emplaced - we exist in space and time in our bodies.”

“In the garden, Adam and Eve related rightly with God and rightly with themselves. They rightly understood who God created them to be. They saw themselves without the influence of sin. There were no struggles with body image.” 

“We know in the fall that Satan tempts Eve with a lie. Which then causes her to question what God said. She eats the fruit. Adam eats the fruit. Then suddenly their eyes are opened and they’re aware of their nakedness. Through their actions, sin enters the world and they become self-aware, but in a much different way than prior to the fall. Their focus shifts from being fully on God to themselves and their response is to hide.”

“The effects of sin greatly impact how we view ourselves.”

“Even after Adam and Eve sin God doesn’t leave them. He provides a covering for them and this foreshadows what comes forth in Christ.”

“Jesus enters into the world to redeem it and to rescue his people through his incarnation, death, and resurrection.” 

“Even in the incarnation we see the importance of the physical body in Jesus himself.” 

“In Jesus’ earthly ministry we see how Jesus not only cares for his physical body but also the bodies of the people he ministered to.”

“Physical needs and limitations were used to highlight people's spiritual needs that could only be fulfilled in Christ. Jesus’ hope was for these struggling people to experience restoration involving the whole person, so they would be restored to engage and flourish in all realms of life.”

“Jesus cares for the whole person, including the body. He can transform our brokenness, suffering, and pain.”

“We have hope that he will make all things new. We know that in consummation all things will be made new. All of God’s creation will be redeemed.”

“What we see when our views become distorted is either a devaluing of the body or an obsession of the body or something that falls between the two.” 

“We need to understand what Scripture says or else it leaves believers with nowhere to turn except themselves or the world.” 

“It may involve how you see yourself or how you perceive how others see you. How we define ‘body image’ depends on your worldview. We want to approach the topic of body image through that lens.”

“We want to ask the Lord to give us the eyes to see and ears to hear where we may be struggling.”

“The Lord may* grant us freedom on this side of eternity but sometimes we won’t experience freedom until we are on the other side.” 

“We rely on Jesus as we struggle well. Rehearse the gospel to ourselves and remind ourselves of God’s faithfulness.”

“He is glorified as we struggle well.”

“He wants us to bring everything to him. It’s helpful to begin and asking God to intervene in the midst of whatever you’re enduring and that he would reorient you’re thinking to whoever he says that you are.” 

“Pray for eyes to see and ears to hear as he does.”

“Pray against being informed by culturally informed views of the body that aren’t founded on God’s truths. Pray for a renewed mind and heart. Ask God to heal and redeem. Seek out biblical community.” 

“Start by listening and ask gentle non-assuming questions to understand more about where they are coming from. As we ask questions, we want to ask in order to listen. Pray for them. Prayer is action.”

“Try to avoid advice-giving. Ask them how they feel best cared for?”

“Put our hope in Christ and rehearse the gospel to ourselves everyday.” 

Recall how Jesus identifies with us in our suffering.”

“God’s power is made perfect in our weakness, so we glorify the Lord when we rely on him.”

RESOURCES

Toward a Theology of Human Embodiment by Gregg R. Allison

Love Thy Body by Nancy Pearcy 

Body by Paula Gooder

Dr. Alexandria Ford’s Website 

Scripture

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES

Genesis 1:27 

Genesis 2:25

John 1:14

Luke 24

Matthew 14:13-21

Luke 8:40-56

1 Corinthians 15

CONNECT WITH ALEX


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. How do you view your body?

  2. Have you found that your view of the body is distorted (such as a devaluing of the body or obsessing over the body)?

  3. What does Scripture say about the body?

  4. What encouragement do we have because of Christ?

  5. What would it look like to have a view of your body that is aligned with Scripture?

  6. What are you going to do or implement as a result of what you’ve learned this week?

SCRIPTURE MEMORY

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14


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