I’m Mike, a follower of Jesus, middle-aged, married, a father of three. I’m also straight. YOB’s conversations about faith, homosexuality, and masculinity have been enlightening, and challenging, and a blessing to me. I’m thrilled to contribute to those conversations with some of my own stories.

Several years ago I used to work out regularly at a local YMCA. Afterward, I hit the showers. At the time the men’s locker room was old-school, with a collection of shower heads along the wall and no privacy dividers. When you’re in there, everything you’ve got is on display.

In my early 40s, I was normally the youngest guy in the showers by fifteen or twenty years. I was used to seeing men older, more wrinkly, and more out of shape than I was. Truth be told, I was perhaps a bit proud of that fact.

One day I had just gotten in the showers, though, and in walks a guy who’s about 30: tall, with a lean, muscular build. I was not the fittest guy in the showers that day.


I start my shower, washing and rinsing my hair, my face, my front, arms, and legs. All this time I’m facing the wall, and he’s not in my field of vision since he’s using a shower on the opposite wall. Then I turn around to rinse off my back.

I find myself staring at the firmest male butt I think I’ve ever seen. I mean, this guy had some seriously toned glutes.

I think to myself, Wow. That guy’s got an impressive rear end. I wish my butt were that firm.

And then I realize that I’ve just broken one of the Ten Commandments:

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s ass.

(Exodus 20:17, KJV)

Ah, body image. I suspect nearly all of us wrestle with it in some form or another, and in different ways — whether we’re gay/same-sex attracted or straight.

These days for me, that wrestling with body image is around aging. I’m 50, and I have to admit that I think I’m in pretty good shape for a guy my age.

(Vanity is one of my sins.)

Still, I can’t run a mile at the pace I used to. I’ve watched my waist size increase inexorably since the ’90s, along with the numbers on the bathroom scale when I step on it. My pecs sag in ways they once didn’t. That cool vein on my bicep I had in my twenties is no longer visible.

And the hair. Shall we get started with all the hair? Back hair. Shoulder hair. Ear hair. Between-the-eyebrows hair. I even have hairs growing on the top of my nose that I occasionally pluck.

Also, less hair in places. Not that long ago my 14-year-old said to me, “Dad, you’ve got a bald spot.”

What!!?? My wife quickly followed with, “It’s not a bald spot. It’s just getting a little thinner in one place.”


Not to mention that the hair is less and less my preferred hue. When I go to the barber, I swear there’s more gray than brown on the floor when he’s done.

And yes, any hair, in any place on your body, can turn gray — not just the ones atop your head. No, they’re not actually blonde.

Sometimes I look at younger guys and think, I used to look like that. I think. Didn’t I?

And sometimes I look at older men and think, I hope I look as good as he does when I’m his age.

Father Time comes for us all. As my own father says, it’s better than the alternative.

How much should I care about my body and its appearance? 1 Samuel 16:7 says that the Lord looks not at the outward appearance but at the heart. I know that surface things are not what’s important.

And yet . . . beauty is a good thing, isn’t it? Beauty of nature, art, even the human form? What’s wrong with trying to add to that in my own small way?

And I should be taking care of my body, too; it’s the temple of the Holy Spirit. Eating right keeps me healthier. Running makes me feel better.

When I think about my own wrestling with body image I find myself returning to a few lines from T.S. Eliot’s poem, “Ash Wednesday”:

Teach us to care and not to care

Teach us to sit still.

Lord, teach me to care for this body — and yet also hold it lightly.

Do you struggle with body image? What’s been difficult about appreciating your aging body, and how can you show gratitude today?

About the Author

  • Thank you so much!
    Honestly, idea of aging keeps me awake at night. It stresses me out, especially since I have no realistic prospect of marrying (I’m 32) because I do not desire women.
    I remember the stress at 27 when my first white hair appeared in my beard.

    • Benjamin, to tell you the truth, 40 wasn’t bad. 50 wasn’t bad. And so far 60 hasn’t been bad. For me what has made all the difference is whether I have friends and reach out to them.

  • Good post, Mike! I grew up using the KJV, so I was dying laughing when I read your joke about coveting “thy neighbor’s ass” in the public showers.

    I strongly believe God made us to naturally desire to be the best version of ourselves we can be, including in our appearance. If we can safely improve an aspect of our appearance and gain more self-confidence as a result, then we should go for it. I recently decided to get dental aligners as an adult in my mid-30s after a lifetime of insecurity about the gaps in my teeth, and I’ve loved how much more confident I am now to naturally smile. I’m still struggling with body image concerns related to my recently worsening male pattern baldness, but I have to remind myself that all of us have aspects of our appearance that we would change if we had the chance. Ultimately, God desires for us to stay humble (including about our physical appearance), lean on Him for all our needs, and praise Him for the provision of our needs. If my current body image insecurities make me more dependent upon God and develop an eternal perspective for the day in which I am resurrected with a perfect eternal body and new name, then God is using those insecurities for my benefit and His glory.

  • Great to hear hear it straight, for a change. Thanks Mike!
    Makes me feel “we’re all in this Christian walk together”

  • Mike! So good to hear your “voice” on this platform. I appreciate your winsome way of addressing this very real subject. As a fellow older guy, I very much relate to the struggle of appreciating my body, especially as it becomes flabbier and fatter and hairier and more blemished than so many of the male bodies I see around me. Thank you for gently directing me away from the “either/or” (my default) to the “both/and” of learning to care and not care at the same time.

    I am not in the habit of doing so, but as I read and reflect on your post, the thought that comes to mind in response to your question about appreciation and gratitude is that I can bless my body, like literally, speak a blessing to it despite the fact that, if I’m honest, it sometimes repulses me. Besides the obvious benefit, I can see how blessing my body is also a defiant act against the history of body shame that has been handed down to me from my own father (and mother). I’ll let you know how it goes… Thank you again! This brought comfort and a smile to my day.

  • The progression of time is something that cannot be stopped. I am grateful for the privilege of gray hair and hair that’s thinning in certain areas, but because of genes, I have more hair on my head than either of my 2 sons, whose mother’s father (and all the men in that side of the family) was completely bald. Both my grandfathers had a full head of hair when they passed. I carry more weight than I should, but I’m working on that. Old age is a privilege denied to many. We should use those reminders that God has installed in our biological makeup to make sure we have the relationship with Him that He wants us to have with Himself, since none of us knows when the last second of our lives will arrive.

    This author did what I feel is a very good job in sharing a personal story!

  • Good lesson brother. I am older than you are by about 10 years. I am attempting to arrest the decline, but it is a strong battle. I am endeavoring to bring back some muscle tone so that I can advance in years without it being such a struggle. Not to make it an idol, but to keep my health up so I can continue to be a blessing to others.

  • I’m generally a small person, so that’s always been a struggle for me, especially since I feel like men should be tall and big. But a few weeks ago I was reflecting on how much I let appearance define my self-worth and that of those around me.

    I need to rebuke that lie more.

    As for the aging part, I think I’m still young enough to poke fun at it when people point out my greys (which have been around but increasing since I was 18). But as I move more and more away from the high school and college guys, I start noticing more of the older guys at the gym and wondering what I’ll be like at their age.

    • I think that’s a healthy effect (can be) of the locker room … that you can see guys older than you and get an idea of what it might be like to become that age.

  • Love your added perspective to our community, Mike! I’ll remember your YMCA joke until the day I die haha. Classic. Now that I’ve entered my mid-30s (late 30s??), I am starting to think about aging and body image more than ever. I know I’m still “young” in the grand scheme of things, but certainly not as young as I used to be. Makes me all the more grateful for an intergenerational community like YOB. Indeed, nobody is alone in his age bracket, along with the insecurities that may come with it.

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