The Bible tells us to renew our minds daily. Romans 12:2 says, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (NIV). A renewed mind enables us to live according to God's truths, rather than in the warped and twisted unreality of our unregenerate minds. His truth literally transforms how we perceive ourselves, others, and the world.
If I don't spend time with God daily and allow Him to fill my head with His thoughts, then what I believe and think becomes subject to the whims of my biochemistry, the other aspects of my flesh, and the devil. What's more, my unresolved wounds become a filter through which I translate (and misinterpret) the words and actions of others.
Case in point- about six weeks ago, while at some hot springs in Costa Rica with friends, I happened to catch a glimpse of myself in my bathing suit, while walking past a mirror.
Whoa! Dismay filled me at the realization that the slender supermodel figure that Lyme disease had blessed me with (go figure that disease can make you look like a model) was gone.
Although some of the weight gain might have been good for me, it was nonetheless a shock to see myself nearly twenty pounds heavier than what I was less than two years ago. I don't make it a habit to study myself in a bathing suit, so the realization that I was well on my way to becoming a chunky monkey (apparently) threw a wrench in my otherwise happy day.
As I stopped before the mirror again, I wondered, Am I just not used to seeing myself as a normal-sized person?
I felt the voice of Truth nudging my conscience. Come on, Connie, let's be objective about this... It went. But the unregenerate mind would have none of it. Insecurity was the order of the day.
So I approached a male friend who happened to be with me at the hot springs, and asked him the dreaded question that no man hopes a woman will ever ask him.
"Am I fat?"
I picked on him because I knew he would tell me the truth. But as I asked the question, I sensed his discomfort as he shifted in his seat next to me. We were plopped down on a bench beneath a beautiful waterfall.
"No, but...you've put on some weight." Was the candid reply.
Alarm bells went off in my mind as my heart picked up speed. "Well, am I pudgy?"
My poor friend. He didn't stand a chance at winning this game. As he squirmed in his seat, silent, I could have imagined what he was thinking- Should he gamble his friendship with his silly, vain friend, in the interest of telling her the truth?
No woman should ever ask a man the fat question. Ever.
But I did. Again. "Well, am I pudgy?"
He looked down. "Um, well, sure, a little."
We all know what the translation is for this, right?
I'm a cow!
Thus ensued a tirade in which I began to bemoan my clumps of cellulite and emerging Buddha belly. How unfair it was that I had put on so much weight, because I subsisted on salads and salmon and exercised- so how dare God allow this to happen to me? And what if my rolls were just getting on a roll? What if this was just the beginning?
Somewhere in the middle of my pity party, my friend looked at me quizzically and said, "What's pudgy mean?"
I stopped the tirade in its tracks. "WHAT?" I said to him, miffed. "You just told me I'm pudgy and you don't even know what it means?"
As I continued to flip out next to my friend beneath the waterfall, he muttered something about needing a drink.
Poor thing. I should have shown him to the nearest bar. Or at least taken my insecurities elsewhere.
"Look, you're not fat, OK? You've put on some weight, but you look good." He finally said.
But my unregenerate mind refused to swallow the truth. Not after he had told me that I was pudgy! (Never mind that he didn't really know what it meant). In that moment, all I could focus on was the fact that I had gained twenty pounds.
Never mind that by most people's standards, I am now an average weight. Never mind that my value and worth shouldn't be in my physical beauty, anyway. I had grown accustomed to the admiration of others. I was used to turning heads and seeing myself skinny as a rail. I didn't like having a real woman's body. Never mind that people still tell me that I am beautiful.
I might have received my friend's words through the lens of truth had I asked God to tell me His truth after looking in the mirror. Or maybe I wouldn't have even asked my friend the fat question. But because I did, I put us both through unnecessary grief. Besides, even if I had been overweight, what would have been the point of asking my friend the fat question? Why did I want to ruin our trip to the hot springs?
Yes, I would still rather be ten pounds lighter. But I'm not twenty-five years old anymore. Besides, in hindsight, I realized that the real question that I was asking-what most women are asking- when they approach a man (especially a close friend, boyfriend or spouse) with the fat question, is, Am I lovable just as I am?
And if the question were posed to God, the answer would be an emphatic, enthusiastic Yes! - Whether we are 120 or 240 pounds.
Living according to the unregenerate mind causes us to mistranslate others' words and actions- just as I did my friend's when I posed the "fat" question to him- and believe lies about ourselves and how God and others see us. And I have found that the only way to rise above the tactics of the enemy and the flesh is by asking God for His mind when my flesh wants to throw a twisted thoughts party.
All I can say is, thank God for the grace and love of my good friend, who forgave me for the fat question. And for Jesus, who has called me- and all of us- His beautiful, fearfully and wonderfully made, sons and daughters. May His opinion be the only one that counts, when we are tempted to lose the truth in the translation of our unregenerate minds.