Once upon a time, there was fear
and there was a body.
It was my body.
But it didn’t feel like my body.
I didn’t understand this one, the
thin blonde strands,
skin under eyes that blushed violet, and on winter days, grey.
There were times when I wanted to escape this body. But I couldn’t.
The mirror was always there, drawing my attention to every single
gave me numbers.
read my vitals.
gave me enough hair for a Barbie wig.
What I saw I wanted to change.
But I shouldn’t let anyone else know about that time and those thoughts, right?
We should just keep things all peachy keen and comfortable, even if it’s not as real.
So very wrong.
For a minute, let’s just level with each other.
Let’s be honest and admit that there are times when we have been afraid of the body, intimated by the body, controlled by the body,
disrespectful to the body.
But how often do we talk about this stuff?
How often do we fight the fear of imperfection?
To enter into that battle means
taking the mask off.
It means saying,
World, friends, mirror,
This is me.
This is just stepped out of the shower, dripping, raw, real me.
This is where flesh, bone and muscle meet.
This is me.
Can I look at me?
Can I handle something that isn’t magazine-glossed and photoshopped?
Can I feel and then live with the aches and pains and hurts and the gosh-darn-awful unknowns when something feels broken?
You know me. I like to ask questions.
But that doesn’t mean the answers are always easy or fun to think about.
Because thinking about the relationship with the body means wading through a journey that is most likely contains some gunk.
It means starting at the beginning,
The day you arrived,
a child with rosy cheeks and thighs that felt like marshmallows, fresh from the bag.
The summers of calloused feet and broken toenails from running barefoot outside.
The years of growth spurts when you went from kid size to adult size, and even though you were wearing adult-size stuff, you were still a kid, inside.
Perhaps there came a day when you saw your nakedness and became
I remember those dark thoughts of, ‘This body needs to change.’
Because of course it should, right?
That’s what I heard on TV.
That’s what I read in the magazines.
That’s what I saw others doing, reading the nutrition facts on the balsamic vinaigrette.
What happened to ranch?
No more ranch.
No more bacon.
No more bread or pasta
Life became HEALTH. The unhealthy kind of health.
Am I really healthy? No, I’m not healthy enough. There is more I can do. I have to fix me.
It takes so much energy, obsessing over health and trying to control the shape of the body.
It outright sucks.
It took me a long while to learn that health is not powders and push ups and putting foods in categories of good and bad.
As a popular book title suggests, health in its purest form is Eat. Pray. Love.
I’d like to add Trust to that mix, too.
Because part of health is trusting that no matter where you are, you are exactly where you are supposed to be. And loving yourself in that moment is one of the most important things you can do,
and also one of the hardest.
Health is not full of “shoulds.”
So I told the “shoulds” goodbye.
Instead, I have opted for now,
For yoga pants Joy,
French macaron runs,
A pool cannon-ball competition? Yes, please.
But there is still brokenness.
There is still battle.
There is still a warrior. Tired and bruised at times, but still a warrior.
A warrior who is learning, daily, to respect her body in the way she did as a child – confident of herself – her strength and her tenderness. Confident of her arms and legs and everything in between.
Because it’s all beautiful.
We’re all beautiful, aren’t we.
In order to believe that, you must live it.
And I wish I could say it was an easy thing to live out. But it’s not.
So I pray.
Sometimes, my prayers look like
a bowl of ice cream,
dancing wildly with bunch of 4-year-olds,
on the ground, eyes closed, pulling my knees up to my head and listening to the whispers:
This is the body I made for you, sweet child.
This is a body of Joy and strength and sturdiness.
This body is where I dwell, too.
“There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.” — Matthew 6:25-26
In that, friends, my hope is completely secure. Amen!