I’ve been incredibly blessed with amazing female friendships in my short 26 years of life. Truly. God keeps peppering them into my life, dropping them in from all over the country. I couldn’t be more grateful. I’ve done a lot of pretty awesome things since moving to NYC - things high school Jena would have never dreamed possible (i.e.: interviewing CEOs, going to Broadway shows on the regular, meeting celebrities, seeing the Statue of Liberty from my bedroom, etc. etc.). But some of my most favorite moments in NYC have been curled up on the couch, drinking wine and laughing with my ladies. They are life partners and sweet and the best therapists money can’t buy. Quite frankly, they are the only reason I haven’t mustered up enough courage to leave the Big Apple yet - even though I’ve been “seriously moving" for the past 3 years. I’ll admit it, sometimes I can be all talk and no action…
As I’ve gotten to know more women in my community and as I have opened up about my own struggles, I’ve seen how I was not alone. You see, for years, years of my life, I have been crippled and held bondage to the pressures of self image, weight, food, and fitness. And it’s always been a super private struggle. Most women don’t talk about it because it’s embarrassing or seems trivial or is so all-encompassing that we don’t know how to process it. But it’s funny, the more women I told my story to, the more who came out of the woodwork saying that they too struggled with similar things.
So it got me thinking, okay if I’ve struggled with this and all these other women in the church have as well - why is no one talking about it? Why are there no resources? We’re beaten over the head every day with false imagery, unrealistic expectations and temptations for vanity galore. It’s incredibly frustrating. Then at the same time, we’re also called to care for our bodies.
Ugh. So where do we strike that balance? Where do we draw the line between healthy upkeep and going overboard where it starts to succumb and define our lives.
I searched everywhere - online and on bookshelves - and no one was really talking about it from a biblical standpoint. (I did find a couple resources - Made to Crave, Dashing Dish and PrayFit, but it was hard for me to relate to and wasn't exactly what I wanted.)
Why was I getting so much healing and perspective from non-Christian yogis, health coaches and publications like MindBodyGreen yet nothing from thought leaders who knew Scripture?! I knew God had lots to say about this subject.
To be honest, it kinda infuriated me.
So that’s when I started scribbling on that 8.5 x 11” sheet of white paper. Brainstorming out all the emotions, psychological implications, biblical references and physical manifestations that encompass the ever broad and often manipulated word: Health.
Throughout that brainstorming, what I’ve come to realize is that we are missing the point. We, as women, are missing the purpose of our lives. Even if we say it’s not the goal - so many of us bolt towards perfect. We are so busy reaching for the unattainable image of love + beauty + happiness that we completely miss it - true joy, freedom, contentment, greater vision. Instead, we put ourselves through misery and into the crazy cycle of eating + working out + eating more + hating ourselves + sitting in shame. We become bottom feeders, grasping to things that aren’t life-giving.
But you weren’t designed to live there, at the bottom, marinating in shame & guilt. You just weren’t.
So my goal here is simple:
Create a small space that provides women with biblical encouragement and inspiration to live healthy lives (among other things) - help them break free from the crappy lies - insecurity, perfectionism, fear, intimidation, performance, approval of others, selfishness, etc. etc. I totally relate because I’ve been in the trenches - and to be honest, there are still days when I feel those feelings creep back in. Just know that I get it. When I started scribbling the dream on that piece of paper, I was still processing and praying and sifting through the anchor that had absorbed the majority of my young adult life. (more to come on this)
So stay put. Linger a bit. I assure you there’s going to be something here that’s going to pierce straight to your soul.