Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Canvas And A Love Letter

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.


Michelle said...

I look forward to hearing more. As Christians with the Holy Spirit living inside of us, it is mind boggling to think we do not take better care of ourselves. Thank you for the book recommendation as well. I can benefit from hearing more.

Corli said...

This is a matter close to my heart and I am looking forward to exploring it with you. I have come a long way in acknowledging I have a body, and I still have a long way to go! I think the ideas of a canvas and a love letter are wonderful.

Shelly Miller said...

Just caught up on your past posts and love the new header and where you are going. Someone once said to me,"the body remembers what the mind forgets" and that has been an epiphany for me. When my back starts to hurt I go back to when I first held myself tight that way and it now helps me overcome what could be days of being incapacitated. Love you Misha! Praying for you.

Anonymous said...

Dear Misha,
Just wanted to say hi and thank you. I read your blog all the time, I rarely comment but I am always encouraged and blessed by all you share, you have often had huge impacts with what you write in my life and perspectives. You are a huge blessing! Much love in Christ,
Shauna Hall

Lizzie said...

Hi I've not commented before now but I discovered your blog via Betty Duffy and in the few short times I've read your writing, I've been challenged and inspired to think differently so thank you.
Your recent posts on anticipation, relationship between body and soul and others are so honest and challenging - thank you! Your photos are beautiful too...And I have one of Caleb Voskamp's wreaths - I think that all the families that own one of them are like a community of their own!
God bless your family's 2012 from here in London, UK. I don't write a blog myself - I would love to but can't spare the time as I am a single mum and work full time but I do so enjoy reading others and try to comment so I'm not just lurking around in the shadows!

deb colarossi said...

I would hold in my hands anything you write..

( this season of watching my mother slowly slowly die was very intimate and very true to what you are saying)

Jessica said...

I am so looking forward to reading about this!

Chelle said...

anticipating the beautiful + true things Jesus has for you in the coming year...your words are such an amazing gift...thank you for sharing them with are an absolute life-giving blessing my friend xo

tonia said...

Yes...I so agree. I'll be so glad to hear your thoughts, unformed or polished, meandering or focused. It will be good to explore this and think of this and live this. Much, much love to you my ragamuffin friend...(I'm one too, of course. OF COURSE! *smile*)

Brenda said...

First time reading your blog, wandered over here via study in brown. I really appreciate your writing and the subject matter is really vital! I am only at the very beginning of trying to learn/understand what it means to love God by treating His temple with respect and love. I look forward to this series!

The Domestic Intellectual said...

Also wandered over here from study in brown and am much encouraged by your post. I feel like this is the direction the Lord is moving me after years of trying to control food or activity levels to some how make everything right, or conversely throwing all attention to the wind and eating and living slothfully. This body is a gift, and as such, I need to treat it with gratitude and care. Can't wait to hear more of what you are thinking!