Pass the Fat Jokes

This week my family and I will gather around the same oak table where we’ve gathered my whole life. We will eat the exact same menu we always have—turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls, and salad. We will chase that all down with a second helping followed shortly by pumpkin pie with extra whipped cream.

I can almost feel the weight of the heavy china in my hands as I fill my plate. If I close my eyes and work hard enough, I can nearly smell the delicious aroma.

I love most of the traditions my family has. But I know there will most likely be more than food at our dining room table.

There will be heaping portions of shame.
We will pass around insecurity.
Someone is sure to carry in self-doubt. Someone else will bring self-loathing. Someone else may bring full-on self-hatred.

And of course there will be fat jokes.

We will all talk about how we shouldn’t have eaten what we did and how we are determined to lose some pounds in the New Year. We will say, “I know I shouldn’t, but…” as we enjoy a slice of pie. We will call ourselves “chubby” and everyone will laugh, but there will be a part of each of us that would rather cry, or hide, or be someone else entirely.

I wonder if there will be fat jokes passed around your Thanksgiving table.

Because for many of us, insecurity is something we have learned from the generations that have gone before us.

I’ve struggled with accepting how I look and what I weigh my entire life. Do you know who I learned the struggle from? My momma who, though beautiful, has always been in her own tug of war to believe that her beauty is enough. Her momma, my grandma, mastered insecurity long before I was born. Despite loving God and His Word, she just never seemed to sink her teeth into the idea that her value came from Him.

Our mothers (and their mothers) play a huge role in the formation of our ideas about worth and beauty.

Here’s how I wrote about that in my book about beauty, Graffiti.

For many of us, our moms are our primary teachers of the definition of beauty. If our mom is at peace with her beauty, we are more likely to feel free to embrace the beauty that we have to offer. But if we watch our mom struggle to feel beautiful, we learn to struggle as well.

Why is that, exactly?

In Exodus 20:5 God is talking about idols (beauty can sure count as one can’t it?) when He says, “You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me” (emphasis added).

This is the principle of generational sin. The idea is that we inherit our parents’ junk. In the passage above, God was addressing our tendency to gravitate toward the same sins as our parents, but the same thing can happen in an area where our parents tend to reject God’s truth.

Does the way your momma talks about herself communicate that she doesn’t really believe that God made her just the way He wanted her to be? Based on her perception of her beauty, would you guess that she doesn’t believe Psalm 139:14, which tells her she is fearfully and wonderfully made?

The bottom line is that if the people in your family struggle to base their worth on what Christ says about them in His Word, you are more likely to do the same.

That’s the cloud. But there is a silver lining.

You can choose truth anytime you want to.

Need reminded what that truth is? Here is a crash course.

  • You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14).
  • True beauty comes from the heart (1 Sam. 16:7).
  • You were made to reflect God’s image (Gen. 1:26).
  • Physical beauty is fleeting, but trusting God leads to a kind of beauty that will not fade (Prov. 31:30).

Even if there is a long history of rejecting God’s truth about beauty in your family, you are free to stop the pattern. You can eat without guilt or shame. You can look in the mirror and appreciate what God has created in you. You can know that your value and worth are not affected by the number of helpings on your plate.

Whatdya say? Will you join me in choosing to believe what God says about our value this Thanksgiving?

If you’re willing to break the pattern of generational insecurity, leave me a comment to tell me about it. I will choose five of you to win a free copy of Graffiti: Learning To See the Art in Ourselves.

About Author

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Erin is passionate about pointing young women toward God's Truth. She is the author of several books and a frequent speaker and blogger to women of all ages. Erin lives on a small farm in the midwest with her husband and kids. When she's not writing, you can find her herding goats, chickens, and children.

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