|Sorry for the harshness I've put you through|
But after reading all the bold honesty in the flood of blog posts of beautiful, breath-taking, inspiring love letters, I can't not do it. These women from all seasons of life and both ends of the spectrum (from “Body, I still hate you,” to “Body, I love and embrace you,”) give me courage and hope for the journey ahead. So let’s start the conversation, shall we?
Dear body of mine,
Where do I start? It’s such a foreign language. You know I’m not used to speaking kindly with you. Though I know I haven’t typically been gentle with you, I ask you to be gentle with me as I try to form a new habit in the way I talk to you. I’m sorry it is taking me so long to awaken to just how much I need to change how I see you.
I knew there was something twisted with the way I thought about you when I put on jeans that felt a little too tight, two weeks before I was about to run you through a full marathon. I knew the ridiculousness of feeling depressed about feeling fat from freshly-shrunken-jeans-from-the-dryer, when instead, I should be amazed at your strength to be able to do such silly physical feats.
While there are a lot of little things I could more easily thank you for (and I promise to get to that later, now that we’ve got this conversation in the open...), but I want to start this new dialogue by speaking to where I have criticized you the most harshly. Because I know that the years of negativity (for as long as I can remember) will take more time to melt and change.
To my lower limbs: You know I’ve struggled with you being a “pear” shaped body, where the weight never seems to come off your butt and thighs. I’m grateful for all the strength you contain. You’re not flimsy by any stretch. You’re muscular. And all the fat that I resent you holding onto? This is the extra glycogen reserves you’re capable of storing. This is what carries me through a long run and makes me a better long distance runner.
And to my belly: Every morning I look at you in the mirror first. You get a lot of attention from me, but mostly negative. But you are the gut that takes all that good food and digests it, translating it to energy to fuel all of life’s adventures. You are the part that hurts (in a good way) when I get into a rare uncontrollable laughing fit. While I do not know if you’ll ever carry life in your womb in our time on earth, the fact that you were created with the ability to conceive and give life is pretty miraculous and amazing.
And finally, ending on the toughest-on-the-outside, yet most-tender-on-the-inside part that I’ve cursed my whole life: my skin. You are my largest organ, which is a bragging right in itself. Yet you have taken the most time and energy, because of your rough eczema since the day I was born. You know I hate the countless hours and sleepless nights I’ve spent scratching, moisturizing, soaking in long showers to exfoliate layer after layer. I've probably given you years, if not decades of my time and energy.
I’ve used you as an excuse to not go out because I feel you’re making me too ugly on a rougher day. I have resented you for being such a visible part of my physical appearance that people can’t help but notice right away. I've given death-stares to innocently curious children on the skytrain who sneak peeks at my skin. I despised being the child that the adults would talk about. Even though I knew it was concern that they spoke about the condition of my skin at every social gathering, I hated feeling singled out. I just wanted to be a kid with normal skin and fit in.
Yet you amaze me, that you regenerate so quickly. I can go to bed one night with an open crack in my finger joint, yet I can awake with the crack healed and sealed over miraculously after a good night of rest. And you have been making a slow but certain journey of healing. Though you will probably always be on the dry side, many of the major patches of eczema of childhood you have healed, even without my intentional attention or effort. You keep me accountable for what I eat by reacting after I feed you junky or allergic foods. You don’t let me get away with it. And you respond to my better choices with further progress in healing when I aim to take better care of you, inside and out.
And most of all, you are the part of this physical body I’ve been given for my time on earth, that acts as a “thorn in my flesh” for my good. This physical weakness makes me all the more dependent on God’s grace to be sufficient. I am thankful for the countless times I have heard and felt God draw near in my struggle. You've made me stronger in God's view of me; for better or worse, because of you, I've developed an "I don't care what others think of how it looks, I'm going to go ahead and live my life anyway" attitude.
How was that? I feel like that’s a good enough of a start. In many ways, there are multiple layers to shed in this conversation about how I see you, about how I want to see you more compassionately. It’s going to take a lot more dialogue, growth, and grace to get me to the place where I truly can say, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” But hear me loud and clear, I want to go there with you. Hold that thought... until the next time we talk very soon.
Thanks for listening. I'll do my best to listen better to you too.