Our Bodies Redeemed
by Laura Ziesel
October 31, 2011
by Laura Ziesel
October 31, 2011
"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body." 1 Cor 6:19-20
I've always had a pretty healthy relationship with my body. Other than normal adolescent awkwardness, I have enjoyed the body I have. Unlike many of you, I've never suffered from a physical disability. I've been in good health most of my life and I've only broken one bone. For nearly all of my life, I can honestly say I have loved and valued my body.
When I left home for college, I discovered dozens of amazing friends, most of whom were brilliant, beautiful, creative, and fun women. Sadly, as our friendships deepened, I discovered that I was one of the only women around who actually loved her body. In fact, I discovered that most women would change many things about their bodies if they were able. This baffled me. My friends were all stunningly beautiful. For a variety of reasons, many women I knew treated their bodies as the enemy. Many women wished to disavow their bodies because of sexual pain it had seemingly brought upon them. Many others self mutilated in the privacy of their closets. And sadly, yet more of my friends suffered from eating disorders, the most common method of bodily-hate I encountered.
Until recently, I had a hard time relating to my friends sometimes because I never really understood why you would view your body as the enemy.
But after my miscarriage in April, as my body was failing at the most mysterious thing it could do--give and grow life--I understood. I felt that my body had failed me, my husband, our child, and our families. And I felt a strong urge to punish it. I thought that if only my body had been healthier, stronger, or more determined, my miscarriage would not have happened. I hated my body for the life is had relinquished to death. As I bled endlessly, I felt myself at a fork in the road. That could've been the beginning of hating my body for life.
I didn't share the negative thoughts I was having about my body with my husband or my closest friends. Yet somehow, in my dark moments of self-hate, the truth of God spoke to my broken heart, saying that my broken body was not to blame. God's grace intervened and I surrendered to it: My body was not the enemy. In fact, my body knew my pain intimately and ached with me. Further, I realized that hatred of my body was hatred of myself. I wanted to blame myself for what had happened. And I think this is often the case when we view our bodies as our enemies; our self-judgment, self-loathing, self-blame gets channeled into how we relate to our bodies.
My recent struggle illuminates a deeper problem many Christians have: The separation between body and self is a false separation. When we view our bodies as our enemies, we are encouraging the fallen state of this world. Satan attempts to drive wedges between things: us and God, man and wife, brother and brother, science and faith. We must fight the lies that lead to the compartmentalization of our bodies, souls, minds, and hearts. To believe in the wholeness and peace of God requires that I submit my body to Yahweh along with my whole life; I cannot withhold any part of myself from His redemptive plan. When I submit my body to God I surrender my desire to hate it, judge it, or condemn it. Like the rest of me, it is broken. But it is being redeemed just as I am being redeemed. And I must be my body's greatest advocate, not its greatest enemy.
So if you have ever struggled with hating your body, I understand your struggle a little bit now. And it's a horrible struggle. But you're not alone. Not only do you have sisters who sympathize with you and want to help, but you also have a God who took on the form of a human body Himself, not despising it as dirty or ugly, but dying to redeem it and all of our bodies. I want you to know, in the fullness of God's truth, that your body is not the enemy. So now let's move into the light of God's truth and away from our dark places of self hate.
Lord God, creator of the Heavens and the Earth, help me to see that I am created beautifully. Help me to see my body as something that is valuable and precious to You, not as something that is holding me back. Help me to accept the limits you have placed in my life through my body's need for sleep, food, clothing, and love. Give me boldness to share any feelings of self-hate with a friend, and show me your truth as I seek to glorify you through the use and treatment of my body. Thank you for dying to redeem all things. Amen.