Good body. Square body. Banana body. Hour-glass body. Bad body. Thick body, big body, able-body, bikini-body. Dad bod, body positivity. Cool body, muscle body, plastic body.
Body body body body. Can you go a day on social media without seeing that word? Bet you can’t.
I have to admit, the human body is pretty amazing. We replace all of our brain cells every few months, skin is about the same. We can train to be stronger, but can also live a decent life with little training at all. We can also let ourselves go to unbelievable weights and come back to normality from such adversity.
It’s what we see in the mirror, in pictures. We look at our images and reflections and say “Hey, that’s me!”
So many things focus on and cater to the body in this culture. Everything is about your looks, your shape, your size and how well you fit into some preconceived ideology that is unnatural at worst and unattainable at best.
The other day I was reading a book in which a character constantly referred to his body, his flesh, as a costume. As a separate entity from the spiritual self.
I thought: “That’s different.”
It got me thinking: Is this body actually me? This 5’7” frame covered in curly hair and rampant with food allergies, this bag of bones…is that me? Does my identity lie solely in this mass of carbon that’s covered in stretch marks and moles?
Of course not!
There is so much focus placed on the body these days that the value of the soul is often ignored. Body and soul, while sharing a connection, are separate. The body needs food and sleep, the soul needs a laugh and favorite tunes, which can then relax the body. The body wants a break, but the spirit wants to keep going. The body dies…
The rest continues on forever.
The body dies and your soul and spirit, the parts of you that aren’t carbon, either go to be with the Lord, or they go hang out in anguish for all of time.
ALL. OF. TIME.
This thing we’re trying so hard to love, to fit into molds, to have the right one of doesn’t last. Does. Not. Last. It is not eternal. It dies.
“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Sam. 16:7
In light of that, I’m starting to think “So… what’s the point?” Why am I freaking out over my pants size when the state of my heart is far more important? Why do I count calories instead of blessings?
I think we place too much value on our bodies. They’re valuable, and they definitely enable us to do what we need to, but the culture is so obsessed with self-love and looks that they are missing something very important. (This impacts believers too!) You can make an idol out of yourself if you put the care and keeping of you at the center of your life and worm Jesus out of the way.
Please note that I’m not saying look in the mirror and say “Ew.” or degrade yourself. I’m not saying don’t exercise and never eat kale (though kale is kinda gross, so I’ll be okay with you not eating it. I won’t eat it.) I’m not going to tell you veganism is bad or berate the bopo movement or anything. I also won’t tell you to start exercising like a mad person because body obsession can go either way. I just feel as though some priorities are misplaced in our society. It’s high time to start putting certain things back where they belong.
Body positivity and self-love have their place, and that’s below the care of real you. The inner you.
Don’t let the love of the body take priority over the care of the soul. God gave you this body, not for you to obsess over, but for you to do His will with. He loves you so much that his son died for you. You owe it to him and to yourself to take care of your soul first, and tend to the body later.
Something I’ve come to learn is that when my spirit is fed and “it is well with my soul” everything in me clicks. My stress drops, I bloat less, I smile more. I feel more at peace with the “costume” I wear.
I try to place less emphasis on what my skin and bones are telling me and tune into my spiritual radio and gauge my needs. Do I need a taco or do I need a walk/talk time with the Lord? Am I bloated because of that pretzel or is that pesky addiction rearing its head in my life after I thought I beat it? Am I stressed because of that double espresso or because I need a break through? Am I feeling depressed, when was the last time I rocked out to uplifting music? When was the last time I dropped to my knees and prayed?
You are more than your body. Your entire person, body, mind, soul, spirit, is valuable and requires balanced care. Don’t let the part people see overrule the care and keeping of the unseen. If you practice self-care, be sure to include things that develop you as a person, that grow you spiritually not just the things that soothe the body or merely lift confidence in your appearance. Read books, pray, study some stuff, learn a new skill or language, take up a new hobby. Work on you, the part of you that’s going to last forever.
When you tend to the mind and soul, everything else falls into place.