Emily’s Wierenga’s words bless us again today. Moms influence their daughters. And while moms may not be able to prevent eating disorders, they can pass on healthy attitudes toward their own body and toward food. Emily wants to help you do this. In May, her new book will be released. It is called Mom In the Mirror: Body Image, Beauty, and Life After Pregnancy. Let Emily’s words challenge you. You want your girl to rise to the challenges life gives her; you need to rise to this challenge. It comes from chapter 9 of Emily’s book: “Like Mother, Like Daughter–Your Personal Legacy.”
Note: The bold sentences are from me. Since this is not a book, I am trying it make it easier to read on a screen. And this is an excerpt, not the whole chapter. There are stories that are missing.
From Mom in the Mirror:
The key to understanding ourselves lies in understanding where we’ve come from—or whom we’ve come from….
The first step in understanding yourself is to understand your mother’s attitude towards self—and ultimately, her attitude towards food, body image and physical activity….
Exploring the impact your mother had on your own body image will offer insight into behaviors that you do automatically. It will help you learn who you are and why you do what you do. Remember, we are not doing these exercises to incite blame, but to encourage freedom by uncovering the truth; to inspire understanding, by exploring messages and influences.
No matter your relationship with your parents, be fully cognizant of the messages and modeling you received concerning food and body image issues. This will help you to separate the child you were, from the adult you’ve become.
The second step towards understanding where you’re at is evaluating yourself.
We are not our mothers. We may inherit their genes, but how we respond to our children is up to us. Don’t be afraid to be firm with the past: to tell it to back off, while you focus on the present. Then, explore the truth about who you are, apart from who you think you are.
This discovery of roots and self is a powerful method for becoming aware of the “why” behind our negative and positive thoughts; it serves as a stepping stone towards breaking free of the past. In turn, new habits and mindsets can be formed.
We have lost the art of nurturing the unseen places. But it’s the invisible parts of us—the soul-parts, the spiritual-parts—that determine who we are. We live in a world that focuses entirely on the superficial, but in order to find healing from our body-issues, we need to tend to the deeper places. And by doing so, by embracing the truth about who we are and rejecting the lies, we will be transformed from the inside-out. We will radiate the joy and peace and beauty of knowing we are more than our looks.
We were made for a higher purpose. We are eternal and this life is only temporary. Hallelujah.
The third step is to evaluate and explore what the world has taught you about your body and food. What have you learned from western culture, religious traditions, and peers pertaining to body image, food and physical activity?
Media’s voice is louder than we realize. Society’s airbrushed view of reality bombards us through billboards, magazines and movie screens.
While it may be hard to determine which messages have come from where, what matters is that you explore your story; that you understand which factors have formed your views of body image, self, food, and physical exercise.
Finally, realize that you can break free of these views. You can reprogram the messages which have damaged your perceptions, and in turn, form your own opinions…..
Women are the heartbeat of the home.
If we are peaceful, joyful and confident, our families will be too. And if we’re anxious, fearful and ashamed, generally our children and husbands will suffer as well.
We cannot let our fears of who we think we are determine how we parent. Our children will end up being more gracious than we ever thought possible, and not because of us, but in spite of us. Because don’t we, deep-down, believe in redemption?
The truth is, we’ll only believe in redemption once we’ve experienced it ourselves. And we’ll only experience it ourselves if we release our pain, our brokenness, our emptiness—let it fly to God like an injured dove, and let him tend to its wounds. If we keep trying to hold onto our injuries, to damage ourselves further, we’ll never be able to fully love on those around us, because our arms will be too full of ourselves.
We need to stop letting fear define us, and to boldly admit we will never be good enough. Only God is truly good. And then, we need to do our best by our children, anyway. To hug them, listen to them, and watch movies with them. To cry with them when their hearts get broken….
Oh moms. There is work in these words. Will you take the challenge? For your daughter’s sake? To leave a legacy of strength? Maybe you never had an eating disorder but unhealthy thoughts burden you. Food is a retreat. A fit, toned body is the goal at all costs. I want to hold your hand and pray with you as try to redeem broken areas in your life and appreciate the beauty God has created in you. Leave a comment below or send me an email (the envelope button at the top of the blog will take you to my email) and tell me how I can pray! Come back Monday for the final post in this series. It’s a Mentor Mom post. I promise it’s worth your time.
Emily Wierenga is writer who resides in Canada. She suffered from an eating disorder as a young girl beginning at age 9 and then had a relapse in her early twenties. Emily’s book Chasing Silhouettes: How to Help a Loved One Battling An Eating Disorder chronicles Emily’s own battle and shares how to care for a young person struggling with an eating disorder from a Biblical perspective. Her book is vulnerable and practical. Purchase it here.
Other post in this series
- Lessons for Moms on Eating Disorders
- Sadie’s Lifelong Struggle
- Preventing Eating Disorders
- Emily’s ED Story