Yes. You read that right. We are talking about God and our bodies.
Yes, that human body God so ingeniously created to be the thing that we grew into, the vehicle we would occupy as we journey through our destined-before-time lives.
Our bodies tell the genetic story of the lives that came before us, each one of us so full of history: the shape of our ears, the curve of our noses, even the length of our fingers taking on an essence of the lives that fused together to create our unique person, the person we see when we look in the mirror everyday.
I’ve always been amazed by the human body, how intricate and unique each one of us is. There is not one like another. Bodies; they are strong and they are fragile. Our bodies can get sick and yet they have the built in abilities to heal themselves. The more you study them it’s fascinating and amazing, every new fact I learn about the body further convinces me of the love and care of a beautiful story telling creator God.
A God whose design for us included the reality of our tangible body, He created us, beings, who are made up of three components; spirit, soul annnd … ahem … body.
Bodies are amazing.
Why as Christian woman, or men for that matter, do we make it so taboo to talk about them? As if we weren’t aware of them or as if it would be less spiritual to do so? People, male or female, have been completely aware of their bodies and their changes since they were children, anyone would be in complete denial to confess anything less. They are active, functioning containers of the daily miracles of being alive.
Your heart that beats, your lungs that breathe, your eyes that see, your skin that responds to touch… and if that was not crazy-amazing enough, your body holds your brain, where you experience memories, and a heart that feels joy, happiness, sadness, pain, and all the feelings that make you know you are indeed ALIVE.
Why, for the last several generations, have we been so mean to them? Why are we starving them, torturing them, neglecting them, and cutting them; as if they defined us? What if it was possible to see them in their proper balance? What if we loved and respected them out of pure amazement at the one who saw fit to create them to be the container of His voice and presence on this earth.
I guess I struggle with this, because I’ve had a couple questions in my heart to bring to the table of this discussion:
Could it be possible we’ve let our bodies suffer the abuse of our pain, our fears, our need for control and power or the expression of the lack there of?
Is it at all possible we’ve lacked balance because we didn’t know how to teach that balance to others in this crazy society of narcissism and fast food? Have we been crippled by our own caparisons and the insecurities we’ve allowed them to bring because we’ve been inundated with images and messages of what beautiful should look like? So much so that we’ve lost sight of the simple wonder and appreciation of our alive uniqueness wrapped in our one-of-a-kind epidermis?
I’m just curious.
I want to stir your heart and get those brain juices flowing.
What do you really think? Why?
I’m not trying to be controversial, if you know me at all; you know I’m not that person. I’ve asked these questions. I’ve brought them before the God I know and wrestled with them, wanting my own personal freedom and peace with my own body.
I cringe when people act like I’ve been that girl who’s always been thin, or never struggled or they assume because I’m thin now, that somehow self-image or the feeling of beautiful is easier for small people. As if being small makes a healthy, whole person or brings identity.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The body was never meant to define beauty or establish identity … any time it does that, it has crossed over to occupy a place that only God should occupy and that becomes something called idolatry.
I think we’ve seen the body idolized and it’s cause us to shy away from seeing it rightly. Or we have compared ourselves to images that society has idolized and felt like we came up short, so we shy back from body health completely. Having healthy body self-image has nothing to do with a worldly standard but everything to do with God’s original design for our humanity. I believe He desires that the way we live and relate to each other would show us and teach us more about our Creator and how He created us in His image.
If you remember correctly, He formed the man from dust (He formed a body) and then He breathed the breath of life into him on the 6th day of creation and then He called what He had created good. (Gen. 1:27-31)
He called the body good. One more time …
HE called YOUR body good.
Long story short, we know the story, Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (tempted by the serpent, satan). For the first time they were aware that they were naked, they were ashamed, they covered them selves and hid. Because of their choices, our bodies (who some say were meant to never die or grow old) began to age and eventually our bodies would die. Our bodies weren’t the only thing to suffer when sin was introduced into the picture, we also deadened spiritually being disconnected from the life of His truth. (Super paraphrased from Gen. 3)
Leaning fully on the knowledge of good and evil we learned to navigate through life with over-developed souls. Our soul consists of our mind, will and emotions. Our soul is where our self-life happens, it’s where we think, feel and will to express what we think and feel into our behavior.
I’m so grateful that in the garden God had a plan to redeem us to walk with Him again in truth, our spirits being awakened and coming alive in Him as we became aware of God’s great love for us.
That great love for us, manifesting itself in His son Jesus, redeeming us from our sin and shame with His very life as the sacrifice; it’s when we believe, confess and receive that gift that our spirits are awakened to life in God. Life in God being the place we live from where we connect with God, hearing His voice and experiencing His presence. It’s our spirit that receives the truth of our identity by who God says we are, not what we’ve experienced, been told by other people or the imprint of our society.
I know that was a lot of theology in order to say what I really want to say, but it is important that we think rightly so that we can experience the freedom of having a properly aligned whole and healthy personhood. Proper alignment being that we would live from our Spirit that hears truth from God and that the soul and body would be subject to the spirit.
Our souls, apart from our spirit, will struggle to find peace with our body, it will struggle to find identity in the way it looks or what we can make our bodies do. Our souls will strive, compare and compete causing cycles of body shame and condemnation in a world that defines beauty in numbers and shapes. It has caused men and woman to self-loath and a generation of young women to starve and torture themselves with eating disorders.
I understand it’s taken many of us years of programming our souls to think and feel wrongly about our bodies and that’s not easily undone in one day.
However, I DO believe when we surrender our souls (our mind, will and emotions) to the truth our spirits receive from God about His original design for our bodies we can return to the awe of how truly amazing our bodies are. I believe we can find the peace and inner resolve to love and respect our body the way God would intend.
Which, finally, leads me to the permission to take care of your body and not think it’s unspiritual to do so. Taking care of your body is one of the best things you can do for your overall person.
What you put into it matters. Keeping active and healthy matters, for your overall health, both for you and your family. Taking care of your body includes your overall diet, activity level and giving it proper rest. I love the scripture in the bible that talks about taking care of the temple of the Holy Spirit, the place He wants to dwell, inside us, our body. (1 Corinthians 6:19)
Just like I think it’s bad religion that excludes the Holy Spirit, I think it’s unhealthy to our wholeness to neglect the care of one third of our whole personhood.
I have not always loved my body. I have fallen prey to comparison, self-judgment and despair. I know what it feels like to not feel beautiful because I looked for worth and value in what I looked like and a number on a scale.
It was when I was 200lbs crying my eyes out to God for help that a true revelation of my beauty came. I choose to believe everyday weight had nothing to do with who I was or with my beauty. I began to rock beautiful long before I lost the weight.
Through that long journey I did learn how to take care of my body, to make a lifestyle of health with my soul submitted and accountable to the truth God feeds my Spirit. I love working out and I love fitness but I also intentionally steward my body’s proper place in my heart. Stewarding healthy body image is progressive and not always a one time deal, I wish I could tell you it was, but God is so good to us that He continues to free us to greater levels as we vulnerably open our spirit to hear Him.
During a recent conversation with a friend, my heart was really confronted with something I had not let go of with my body.
Driving away in my car, the Lord whispered to me,
“Ris, can you say you love your body?”
“Yes Lord, I love my body.”
“Can you say, I love my stretch marks?” (I have a lot of those from having my four sons)
I felt sick to my stomach, it took my breath away.
“No, I can’t. I don’t love them. Actually I hate them.”
Then I heard myself and was reminded of a quote I love, “Be careful what you say to yourself, yourself is listening.”
I heard it. I knew it. The power of life and death is in our words. Right away I knew hatred was NOT in the heart of God for me to feel towards any part of me.
So I told the Lord, “I think in this moment I’d be lying to say that I looooove them, but I do give you permission to speak your truth to me about my stretch marks, I give you permission to do the heart surgery you need to do so I think rightly, Your thoughts, about my body.”
I could feel Him put His hand on my heart and gently say, “I promise to take every scar and make it your story, I’ll take every trail of your heart and make it your testimony … I redeem everything. I can redeem how you think about your body.”
You know … tears … love that washes away shame … peace … God hugging my humanity … making Himself known to my spirit … taking care of my soul.
What is the Holy Spirit speaking to you about your body? Is He wanting to wash over you with new truths about how you see your body? Is He showing you ways you could surrender some soul-ish thinking so your spirit can love your body with God’s truth?
The truth is …
You are amazing. Your body is amazing. And today is a perfect day to hear God and make peace with that.