The words came to me as part of a course I’m taking, but at first I didn’t really connect with them. Not because they were hard for me to say, but because they weren’t. I don’t hate my body. Except for a brief period of teenage body dysmorphia angst, I have always pretty much liked my body. I am a small human. Not tiny, not skinny, and because I seldom put any effort into it, not strong either, but small. I liked the idea of being a small woman long before I realized that I was one, so, even though there are small tweaks I would make if given the choice, 99 days out of a 100 I am grateful for the body type I was given.
But somehow when the t-shirt came, I felt an aversion to wearing it. Again, not because it felt like a lie, but because it felt like it didn’t matter. I thought people would read it and look at me and be like, “well, sure, she loves her body. Why wouldn’t she?” I felt like it would cheapen the message.
And then that little voice in my head piped up: “I thought you said you don’t believe that love is a feeling. The shirt doesn’t say ‘I Like My Body’. By your own definition, do you love your body?”
I didn’t like that question so much.
My most consistent attitude towards my body has been to do the bare minimum to keep it functioning, and to be annoyed whenever it doesn’t. I am the girl who walked around with the broken tooth for over a year because it irritated me to give up the time and money required to fix it. I am the girl who only bought clothes at thrift shops and discount stores because I felt guilty for spending money on clothing myself. Except for that teenage moment, I didn’t actively abuse my body; I just neglected it. I ignored it as much as possible. I felt safer being a cerebral creature; I didn’t so much want to be a physical being. I didn’t like working out, I didn’t want to bother being physically active, I only got a decent amount of sleep when I was sad. I resented spending any money or time on my health. Before I met my foodie husband, I genuinely disliked eating, and even now, I have to actively remind myself to stop and refuel when I’m working at something. I had a rather Gnostic notion that anything physical was inferior and less godly, and it showed in how I wanted my body to serve my mind without requiring anything in return. It also showed in how I felt guilty if I invested time or attention or money into the care and keeping of my body.
I am learning to do better. I’ve connected with my body over the last year more than ever before; I’m learning to care for it, to listen to it, to treat it like the temple it is created to be. God’s instructions for His temples were to make them magnificent, sparing no effort or attention to detail in the design or in the care of them. I don’t know why I assume He wants this temple to be any less. Glorify God in your body and in your spirit, says Paul. Ignoring either one of these parts of me, neglecting them, misusing and abusing them, choosing in any way or for any reason not to make them as beautiful and strong as they have the potential to be – how is that glorifying God?
It’s not. But the fact that I cringe when I think about publishing a blog post on loving my body but I could without fear write on the same topic if it was about my mind or heart tells me I still respect my mind more than I respect my body.
Do I love my body?
I’m learning to. I am right now in the middle of one course and one program, each of which was designed by two very different people who know nothing about each other, but both of which are teaching me things that fit together like pieces of a puzzle and require me to step out of my mind and into my body. And I’m learning to like it here.