I am reading a book I have waited for for many years. It's the book I'd like to write, actually, and I may still someday. But for now I am reading another person's take on it, and, to put it mildly, I am cheering and challenged as I read. (And I'm only about half way in.)
Nothing (besides my loved ones) captures what I am passionate about more then our relationships to and with our bodies. My journey proves, though, that this is an interest that comes from longing to be whole myself, not necessarily from victory or strength.
Under great stress, my relationship with my body is still the greatest tattle-tale on how I am doing spiritually. Cold sores, sugar addiction, insomnia... they all speak loudly when my heart is struggling, my questions are big and I am keeping quiet.
Part of this road is also what I am learning about grace and God's lavish and unearned kindness. As someone who grapples for any control in a world that breaks my heart daily, my journey in all this is a mix of choice and redemption, obedience and undeserved gifts.
I think our bodies are meant to be a canvas. Whether in brokenness or valour they will one way or another tell a story about who God is. From the intricacies of our cells and double helix, to the rosy hue our cheeks take on when in fresh air, to the delicacy and fineness so easily hurt - we are made in the image of magnificence and we worship Him when we enjoy that.
How we treat our bodies, our canvas, I think then could be described as our love letter back to Him. Our responses born from understanding His character and goodness, His sovereignty and care. Whether we are suffering or celebrating - how we relate to food, sleep, water, sex, affection and enjoyment all sing out what we believe about Him. And what we believe He feels about us.
It's a palette of dark and light colours - and I still don't understand it all, nor do I live the parts I do believe consistently. But it's something I spend a lot of time thinking and asking questions about.
As someone with a history of an eating disorder I also am immediately disqualified as any sort of expert on this subject. As someone who has spent years struggling with depression and health issues, I approach this from a place of needing compassion and zero dogma. As someone who loves to run but will never be "naturally gifted" at running, I am immediately eliminated as fitness savvy in any way. As someone who still eats for comfort and control, as someone who still has habits I'd much rather hide than analyze, I have no desire to write about any of this from a place of preaching. But I do want to explore more about it from a position of hope, curiosity and enjoyment.
I honestly believe with all my heart that our bodies are meant to give us revelation. And I'm fascinated by that. I believe there are keys in how we relate to our bodies that are keys to things on a far grander scale. I have a hunch that the way we view our bodies, and how we care for them, are opportunities to walk into a love story and relationship, a way of living and connection, that we are made to hunger for and crave - and ultimately be fulfilled in.
I like how Gary Thomas said it in his book Every Body Matters: "In the end, I found that physical fitness offered to God, surrendered to God, pursued in cooperation with God, has enormous spiritual, emotional and physical benefits. It is not an easy battle, but I have found it to be one well worth fighting - even though I know it is a battle I will fight, with varying degrees of success, for the rest of my life."
For many years I have wanted to write more about this. This is the year I think I will.