This is a picture from my early days as a traveling missionary. Except for the hair, I don’t think I’ve changed much.
I refuse to use the defeated enemy’s God-given name, which translates as “light-bearer,” because he has forever forfeited the right to be called by that name. Besides that, the Bible says:
Pay close attention to all my instructions. You must not call on the name of any other gods. Do not even speak their names, (Exodus 23:13, emphasis mine).
I also refuse to use his generic title, which means “accuser.” Devil makes him sound frightening (though I am not afraid of him), and enemy makes it sound like this is a fair fight—it’s not! The odds are so completely stacked in our favor that there is literally no way that we can possibly lose.
That’s why I only refer to him as the defeated enemy. I want to remind myself of my position of victory. I also want to remind him of his defeat, which is sealed. The Holy Spirit reminded me one day a few years ago that Jesus is the Lamb “slain from the foundation of the world.” And He revealed to me that since Jesus was slain from the foundation of the world, the enemy’s defeat was also sealed from the foundation of the world.
Therefore, we cannot possibly lose. That is unless he can get us to give up. This is why he works so hard on discouraging us. He chooses someone who is close to us, someone we love and trust, to poke us in the place where it hurts the most.
Make no mistake about it: although his defeat is a fact, nevertheless he is still capable of wounding. He can wound us gravely, even unto death. He is behind Christian divorces. He has even provoked Christians to suicide. I can guarantee that the defeated enemy was behind the scenes, using that person’s loved ones to poke a wound that hurt so badly they simply couldn’t take it any longer.
This is exactly what he did to me today.
Here’s my story, so that you understand this place of vulnerability (and trust me, it’s not an easy story to tell):
From the time I was very little, I wanted to be a boy because I thought boys had more fun. I didn’t like playing with dolls or even sitting indoors coloring. I spent my childhood in trees or on my bike, having adventures. I believed that being a girl meant that I was boring, and that means that I have always had a lot of body shame.
As a teenager body shame expressed itself as it does with many teenaged girls: obsessive dieting and crash dieting interspersed with periods of binge eating. I look back at pictures and realize with a shock that I wasn’t fat at all. But the defeated enemy used my friends to tell me that I was fat. Often he would whisper in my ear that I was fat. And sometimes a boy would compliment me, saying something like: “I like girls with curves,” which sounded to me like he was saying: “You’ve got a big butt.” All of which put me on a hunger strike until my mother would nag me into eating, and bribe me with fried chicken.
In high school I was in a semi-professional ballet troupe. My ballet teacher was extremely thin. She had been a ballerina with the New York City Ballet under George Balanchine. She encouraged us all to lose weight if we dared to think of a career as a dancer. In fact, “encouraged” is far too nice a word for it. She badgered us constantly about our weight. She bullied us by putting the “fat” ones (including me) in the back line—both on stage and during practice. Looking back, there was nobody in the class that I would say was fat. But she convinced us all that we were.
So all this adds up to intense body shame—lifelong body shame. On the positive side, body shame did keep my dress modest compared to other girls my age. But of course I dressed modestly for the wrong reason.
What happened today is this: last night I was invited to Monica’s apartment for dinner. Monica is Italian, about the age of my mother, and a new believer. In other words, Monica doesn’t have the same cultural experiences I have as an American. And Europeans really don’t have the culture of body shame or fat-shaming. So after a lovely dinner, and after offering me two desserts, Monica says: “My dear, you have put on weight.” Her tone was one of concern for me, but what I heard was: “Wow! You’ve really gotten fat!” I didn’t know how to respond because I don’t think my weight has changed at all in the past year.
That one line was enough to send me into a spiral in which I only wanted to go to bed and sleep the comment away. Then today Monica called me and repeated what she had said two more times. After getting off the phone I spiraled into despair, self-hatred, and even had thoughts of suicide. Happily, Nina was here and prayed me through the pain. Monica is plump, while Nina is actually underweight. But it is Nina who understood how those words had hurt me.
Understand, I am not angry or upset at Monica. She was just the stick that the defeated enemy had used to poke my wounded place. The whole thing caught me off-guard because I had thought that I had dealt with this issue. Rejection, abandonment, and self-hatred are things that I spent a great deal of time working through with the Lord. But obviously, body shame remains a core issue that I need to deal with. I don’t even know how to begin to heal from body shame. It is a wound so deep and so old that it almost feels like it’s a part of my identity.
What I’ve decided to do is to go back to what God says about my body:
I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well, (Psalm 139:14, NIV).
Who am I to argue with the Potter? I’m going to let Him love me through this until all the hurt and body shame are gone. God is good!
 Revelation 13:8, KJV.
 Thank God I’m a Boomer! Can you imagine if I had been born these days? I might have had parents who “supported” my right to be a boy, using masculine pronouns, and insisting that I be allowed to use the boys’ bathroom at school. I’ve even heard of parents who have let their young teens get hormone treatments and gender reassignment surgery. Although it’s what I wanted at ages four through eleven, as an adult I’ve always been glad that I’m female—especially having given birth to my two sons. I still think dolls are boring, though.