Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

I have been working with my trauma therapist to make peace with my body. He is a somatic based practitioner, which means he is constantly asking me what I am feeling in my body, both physically and emotionally. He consistently reminds me that my emotions and the messages I am getting from my body are really important to listen to. The message I keep taking away is that I need to trust my body. This has been difficult for me though because I grew up with the belief that my body, my emotions, my “desires of the flesh” were deceitful and not to be trusted. And if it wasn’t me deceiving myself then it was spiritual warfare of some sort. Basically my feelings were potentially from Satan, so don’t trust them! Add to that some purity culture ideas in which my body was objectified as a potential “stumbling block” to men and my virginity was a defining characteristic of my worth, and it is no wonder I feel disconnected from my body and find it hard to trust her.

As I told my therapist that I was afraid of trusting my body because “the heart is deceptive above all things” and so on, he stopped me and pointed out that it just isn’t true. He explained that my body and brain and central nervous system are communicating to me in ways meant to keep me as safe as possible. My body doesn’t lie. He went further and pointed out that actually language can be very deceptive. People can lie. People can use words to manipulate. Words can be mistranslated, taken out of context, and misinterpreted. Language has a lot more potential to be deceptive than does our body. This isn’t to say that our bodies are perfect or that words are always deceptive. But this realization has helped me begin to really open up to trusting my body and healing my relationship with her. While it’s a slow process, it’s important because as I trust my body more, I find that I am trusting God more.

I was meditating on the idea that God made my body out of His love, and called me good. I was thinking about how when I first held my children, I marveled at everything – their soft baby hair all the way to their toes, and how I marvel at how their personalities have formed and they grow and change. I still sneak in their rooms sometimes to watch them sleep. If I do that, how much more does God?! As I was meditating and praying about this, I was reminded of Psalm 139:14 – “I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

As I pondered this verse, I realized that I don’t actually know what being made “fearfully” means. So I looked it up, and found something amazing. Translated from Hebrew, the word fearfully means: with great reverence, respect and heart-felt interest. Wonderfully, translated from Hebrew means: unique and set apart.

Let that sink in.

God made us with great reverence and respect.

Unique and set apart.

And with heart-felt interest.

He poured His heart into creating us. Our body and ourselves are sacred vessels of God’s creativity and love.

Do you feel this quiet holiness of having been made by God? I mean, really feel it? What does your body say about this?

I’ve been sitting with this idea and really sinking into the feeling it produces in my body. How can I distrust my body, when God made me with such heart-felt interest? How can I disdain her, when God made her with great reverence? How can I question her worthiness when God set her apart and gave her unique desires, needs and talents, specifically designed to reflect Him in a particular way? She is a holy gift from God. I am a holy gift from God. As I lean into this, my body sings and with the psalmist praises God her good Creator for making her in Love.

Don’t listen to the haters

I saw a video yesterday that disturbed me. In it, a couple of women were yelling at a man in a McDonalds, telling him that he was too fat to be eating there, and that he needed to leave. They even went so far as to tell him that he just needed to stop eating and that he was disgusting. It really bothered me.

A few different people stood up for him and started yelling back at the women, who were eventually asked to leave by management.

However, as all of this was going on, the man was just standing there. I had to wonder how he was feeling in all of this, because while there were people taking up for him, no one was actually talking to him or trying to encourage him. If I’d been there, I would have talked to him, and not engaged with the women, owing partly to my aversion to confrontation, but more importantly I would want to support him in what seemed like an awful situation. So, I’d like to write an open letter to this man, and to anyone else who has ever been shamed for the shape, color, gender or state of their body.

Dear One,
If I were there, I would take your hands in mine and ask you to look at me. And I would look at you – and I mean really look at you. With my eyes, I would embrace you as the beautiful, worthy person that you are, and I would try my best to reflect that back to you.

And this is what I would tell you:

Your body is a good body. As it is. It does not need to be changed to be worthy of food, pleasure or respect. Don’t listen to them.

Your body does not determine your worth.  You being alive and breathing – your very being determines your worth, and it’s complete. Your body is perfect the way it is. Don’t listen to them.

Your story – it’s yours and it’s amazing. These people telling you how you should be don’t know the blood, sweat and tears that you have poured into your life. They don’t know the experiences that have made you and are making you. They don’t know what you need and they don’t have the right to tell you what you need. Their opinion does not matter, because they have not walked with you all the way. Don’t listen to them!

Your body has walked long with you though. Your body has been there for you through the good times and the hard times. Your body values your life.

Your body is a record of all that has been in your life, and that’s amazing!

Listen to your body. As it has walked with you, walk with it. It’s voice is far more important than the voices shouting around you, trying to shame it into a different state. Feed it, move with joy in it, give it rest and listen. Listen. It will tell you what it needs. And that’s enough.

You are worthy as you are. You are beautiful as you are. You are enough.

Don’t listen to the haters.