For most of my life, I've hated my body - hated myself - believing that I could never be thin enough. But even admitting that struggle felt shameful. It didn't fit with my ideal version of myself. I thought that I should be able to eat whatever I wanted and still have a perfect body. And if that didn't work, then I at least wanted everyone else to think I was confident in myself (even if I wasn't). My flaws and imperfections just felt too devastating to admit. They felt like things that needed to be hidden, ignored, covered up.
It was as though my life sang my own personal version of Demons* by Imagine Dragons. "Don't get too close. It's dark inside. It's where my demons hide."
And it just felt too scary to really and truly admit my internal battle. I felt like admitting my struggles would just make them more real - that they would take over my life and define me. But it turned out to be just the opposite. Hiding my struggles allowed them to define me, without me even realizing it. But when I chose to unveil them, I could be set free from their power!
This is exactly what the Bible tells us in 1 John 1:5-10:
"5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." (1 John 1:5-10).
Here's what I think John's getting at:
With God there is no sin and no hiding (v5). So if we say that we have a relationship with God while trying to hide our sins and struggles by keeping them in the dark, we perpetuate lies and actually train ourselves to believe them (v6). But if we admit these struggles to God and to each other, we can actually experience the goodness of those relationships, knowing that all of our sins have been washed away through Jesus' perfect blood, because He sacrificed His life in our place (v7). But if we try to pretend that we're not really that messed up, we just keep living a lie (v8). However, when we admit just how screwed up we really are, the Lord is eager to wipe away all the ugliness(v9). But if we claim to be ok on our own, we call God a liar and don't let His truth shape our lives (10).
In other words, when we hide, we keep ourselves from the truths that could set us free (John 8:31-32).
Sadly, I've spent so much of my life hiding and pretending to be fine with myself that I didn't actually realize what it would take to get me there for real - what it would look like to be able to replace the lies I believed with God's truth so that I could be truly set free. So I let lies define me - lies that have told me I was fat, ugly, worthless, unlovable, and that there was no way out...and they kept me in the dark - in chains of hopelessness that didn't allow the light of the gospel to shine into this area of my life.**
Now I'm finding that the truest freedom is in bringing my imperfections into the light. That way I don't have to be controlled by the fear of needing to hide them, because according to God's Word, they've already been covered by the blood of Jesus. And if that's the case, I have no reason to be afraid! I haven't been given a spirit of fear, but a Spirit of sonship, by which I can cry Abba Father, in the knowledge that I have been irrevocably adopted into God's family (Romans 8:15). And no flaw of mine could ever separate me from all of His Fatherly goodness and blessings to me through Christ (Romans 8:38).
So dear friends, I still feel like I have a long way to go in learning about these things, but I do want to exhort you - please don't hide. Hiding can never bring freedom. It only brings pain and death. But sharing your real self, demons and all, with the Lord and other trusted friends can bring peace and life, because you will experience the truth that Jesus' cleansing blood can cover over every flaw, every sin. And that truth will set you free.
As Jesus' perfect blood covers our imperfections - Loving Him is Red!
*For the purposes of this post, I am choosing to use the definition of "demon" that seems to be implied in the song - an internal struggle or vice that plagues a person with trouble or unhappiness. The fallen angels that are referred to as demons in the Bible are not within the scope of this particular post.
**If you are a female and can relate with my food and body image struggle, I would recommend the book "A Woman of Moderation" as a helpful resource. It has been a great encouragement to me in the midst of my struggle, and I would definitely suggest reading and discussing it with a trusted friend.