What does it mean to be comfortable in your own skin?
What does that look like? I recently asked these questions to my youth Sabbath school class. We briefly remembered awkward adolescent stages of our lives in which we weren’t so comfortable and then pondered its definition in the word and in the lives of people we know.
Some of the definitions the class threw out were:
- don’t want to change anything about yourself
- comfortable to be and express what is on our minds
- don’t care about what people think
- non-conforming to other people’s standards
- healthy self-confidence
- unafraid to be uniquely ourselves without conforming to another’s idea of who we should be
One shared how an old friend had said to her, “You’re not the old ‘you’ anymore and I don’t like it…” Comments like that could potentially make one question themselves
What would you say if someone asked you the question, “Who are you?”
Then I asked the class, “Do you know someone who you would describe as comfortable in their own skin? How do you feel about them? Does someone who is comfortable with themselves encourage others to feel comfortable around them? How do they pull it off?” The answer that stuck out to me was, “They know who they are.”
What would you say if someone asked you the question, “Who are you?” Ask someone off the street in the city where I’ve worked and you’d probably hear something like—I’m gay, I’m straight or I’m transgender in the first few sentences of their answer. Our society uses sexuality to identify or define “who I am.” But is my sexuality who I am? Or is it what I am? There is a difference.
The Bible provides definition of who we are by the Creator’s intent when He designed humanity. God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion… So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Genesis 1:26-27). It is after this statement of intent of His creation of man that He then blesses them and gives them their first sex education class, “be fruitful and multiply.”
There is a progressive order here and it would be good for us not to miss it. According to these verses I am an image bearer, made in the image of God. That is who I am according to God’s word. If I want to understand who I am by design, I need to know something about the original image. “Let us…” God is three distinct beings that are so intimately connected, they are one. In this sense God is wholistic. God is and always has been love, existing in this triune relationship.
I am a wholistic creature composed of three entities: mind, body, and soul. I am a social being designed to be an expression of love. Who are you? You are mind, body, soul, a coalescence of mental, spiritual, and physical. You are an indivisible being, a being that cannot segregate aspects of yourself from another part. You are an image bearer.
If I glorify God in my body or if I don’t, it is affecting my ability to glorify God in my spirit.
I think this is what Paul is communicating when he wrote, “Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord and the Lord for the body.… Do you know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? …Or do you not know he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? … But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him” (1 Corinthians 6:13, 15-17).
What these verses communicate to me is that when God destroys individuals for their spiritual decision, the physical body will also be destroyed. If I glorify God in my body or if I don’t, it is affecting my ability to glorify God in my spirit. You can’t just be physically joined to a harlot and it not impact other facets of who you are. You can say food is for the stomach and the stomach for food (as if it is an isolated case from the rest of who you are). You can say it’s just this, but it’s more than that. It’s bigger than that. You are indivisible. Body, mind, and spirit are all connected. And God’s original intention was that we would be indivisible from Him.
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you… and you are not your own? …for you were bought at a price, therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
It is in the context of this fact of our indivisibleness that our health message has the fullest expression of its existence. You see, building ourselves up spiritually has the capacity to infuse health into our physical being. Likewise, supporting our physical health just from its sheer relationship to the other two aspects of who you are is strengthening to mind and spirit. It’s how we were designed and is just who we are. Living in harmony with this reality of your design is the ultimate way to truly experience being an image bearer. Maybe those teenagers had it right. Being comfortable in your own skin is connected to knowing who you are.
Risë Rafferty, RDN
Risë is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and has been writing and teaching about health for many years. She loves the health message and takes great pleasure in seeing people thrive by the application of its principles. Her research and down-to-earth manner allow her to offer up the health message in both an intelligent and accessible manner. She and her husband, James Rafferty, have two children.