As a recognized specialist in eating disorders for over two decades, I have witnessed first hand the challenges and devastation obsession with our physical appearance and struggles with body image can create not only for grown women but also for vulnerable young girls. When anxiety and addiction merge, food issues can become very complicated since it’s not something we can just abstain from but meals are something all of us have to learn to manage on a daily basis. So grateful for my friend Maria Furlough who has gifted our center and all of you with a faith based tool that we mama’s can utilize to create a better legacy for our daughter’s.
The Bible says it, we know it, and others remind us: our words are important. Take this verse for example: “Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and it itself set on fire by hell” (James 3:5-6).
Oh, I get it now! So that is what’s happening when I am ranting and raving about who knows what at myself, my children, my husband, my friends or my family. I’ve been set on fire by hell itself! All makes sense now. I knew it felt like hell, but now we know it actually is.
I think we can already agree that we believe this to be true. We know that our words are powerful and in many areas of our lives I believe we take great aim at taming the tongue. Here are some examples of things we actively try to quit:
And Amen, right? We should seek to tame these fires that come out of our months. But as I prayed, and I stewed and as I assessed my own words I began to wonder if there is another brand of evil that we allow to flow free. Fellow mommas, may we identify these words and snuff them out quickly before they burn down our daughters from top to bottom: our negative self-talk.
We are our own worst critic and there are entire books to help us conquer the mind battles that go on inside of our heads. But in the name of Jesus may we begin to stop those battles from coming out of our mouths all the time, especially when we are within earshot of our girls.
“Ugh I hate these thighs!”
“I have got to go on a diet.”
“I don’t look good in anything I wear.”
“No, I don’t want to go shopping, I hate shopping. I can never find anything to fit right.”
“No cookies for me, I’ve gained too much weight.”
“If only I was born with her legs.”
“I look horrible today!”
“No! Don’t take a picture of me I look awful.”
“I am not going out of the house, I didn’t put makeup on.”
Add to this list all the nicknames we have for our parts: thunder thighs, bubble butt, jiggle arms, belly pooch, frumpy, lanky, etc.;
I know sister, I’m living there with you too. Feels kind of gross to read on paper, right? I’m with you and I pray that guilt would flee far from us. Guilt is the enemy’s scheme that he throws at us when growth is God’s desire.
I was sharing this sentiment with a dear friend of mine and she said, “I know! My daughter even noticed the look I gave myself when I looked in the mirror and I wasn’t even trying to give myself a look!” All the time we want our girls to listen to us and we forget they watch and learn from us 24/7. We want our girls to learn from us how they should talk about themselves.
It’s like accents, right?? It is known in the Furlough home that we do not say the word “fat,” we do not make fun of each other’s bodies and we say, “you guys” instead of “y’all.” I grew up in Connecticut. I could not even say “y’all” right if I tried to. I am a northerner. I speak Yankee and even though every one of my children are born and bred in North Carolina they speak Yankee too.
How does this work? They are surrounded by “Y’alls.” It’s just the way around here and how is it that my children can’t say “y’all” right either? They can’t speak southern because they talk like my husband and I. We learn how to speak from our parents. We learn our native tongue from the house that we are raised in.
What is your native tongue about yourself? Do your words uphold your body like the beautiful gift from God that it is, or do you constantly put yourself down? Do you talk about your body like it is for using and being and doing or do you talk about your body like it is for seeing or growing or shrinking? Do you talk about clothes like they are your enemy, or do you talk about clothes like they are a blessing? Are your words fiery flames that burn yourself down or are they encouraging reflections of the way God Himself sees you?
I am positive I won’t be able to protect my daughter from all words. Us parents go through great lengths to pray and hope that our children do not get ridiculed or made fun of in school. We are ready and armed for what to say and do when that happens. But I don’t want to be so distracted by the potential words of others that I all together forget about the power of my own. In the name of Jesus, I pray we learn to protect our daughters from our words.
Confident Mom, Confident Daughter Challenge:
Let’s hear from you Mom! Make a list of the Top 10 things you love about yourself. Bonus: Share your list with your daughter. Double Bonus: Have her make one for herself!
Maria Furlough is a wife and a mother to one amazing 11-year-old daughter, three rambunctious boys and one baby boy who lives in the arms of Jesus. She teaches women’s Bible studies and works as the Missions Team leader at Lake Forest Church in Huntersville, North Carolina, and is a former full-time youth pastor. Maria is the author of Breaking the Fear Cycle: How to Find Peace for You Anxious Heart and Confident Moms, Confident Daughters: Helping Your Daughter live free from Insecurity and LOVE How She Looks. You can find Maria on Instagram or Facebook @MariaFurlough or online at www.mariafurlough.com