It’s almost summer. For us that means wonderful, healthy, non-screen, fun things to do as a family. Maybe it’s the beach. Maybe it’s a pool or a lake. Waterfalls are amazing. I love being in and around water. Now perhaps you’re not thinking of how the water feels on your skin, or the wonder a child experiences jumping the waves.
Perhaps you’re not imagining snorkeling and following turtles through the ocean. Perhaps you’re worried about your thighs. Maybe you’re studying the newest diet, the newest fad, the newest exercise, the newest style. We focus on our relationship with gravity more than we focus on our relationship with God, or with each other.
In the immortal words of the man my children call “the airplane guy” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf) “STOP IT!”
Erich Fromm wrote “To Have or To Be”. I fear we have moved on to “To look or to be”. As if the color of our lips is more important than what we say. As if what size we are is more important than our character. As if the cover is more important than the words in the book.
We are told in Genesis that our bodies are made in the image of God. We know little about what His body looks like. We have the entire scriptural record filled with what He DOES. He LOVES. He leads. He is all powerful and all knowing and all loving. He is perfect. We are made in His image. Can you imagine if He gave us perfect dimensions but none of his love?
What do we value? What God values is clear: “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (Samuel 16:7). YOUR HEART! Your character, your ideas, your dreams, your virtues, your plans…THAT’S what God is looking to. That’s what HE sees in you. That’s how HE defines Himself!
His great plan to allow us a body, is so we can love and be loved. It is so we can perform ordinances and learn.We NEED a body to do these amazing things. They should be the focus of our lives. We can hug, and serve, and travel and create and learn languages and physics. Jesus spent His life healing and helping and serving. He ate. He rested. He honored the needs of His body. Something He could be baptized in. Something He could cry with Mary in.
He could break bread and water. He could wash His disciples feet. Ultimately He died for us. Heavenly Father was very specific in giving creating a body for His son. It needed to be able to die for us, yet live again. Christ’s body needed to be able to atone for our sins.
His death would allow us to return back to Heavenly Father HAPPY to be in His presence! The atonement was in no way diminished because “he has no stately form nor splendor; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” (Isaiah 53:2).
Heavenly Father chose a body for His son that would never grace the top 100 best looking men of the century. It didn’t matter. It wasn’t an either or. It’s not like good looks would have made Jesus less perfect or more perfect. It truly did NOT matter. God looks on the heart. He knew when we met Jesus as our Judge and Savior we would completely rely on His heart and His sacrifice…not His looks.
How do we look at our bodies? When we look in the mirror and see our grandma’s “birthing hips” do we think of how wonderful our grandma is and her amazing tenacity throughout world war 2 as she held down the fort (even when the “Fort” was more in the line of fire than her husband as a marine ever was)? Do we think of the blessing it is that our bodies can create life? Truly miraculous and a feat of biology that is unmatched! Somehow we can nourish a human life! Yet whether we fit our JEANS…is the important thing? WHO are we kidding?
I promise you the baby you are cradling and singing to, and loving and changing and nurturing, doesn’t care about your pant size. The development of her brain and heart and lungs and body and her ability to love and function all depend on you.
They do NOT depend on how you look in that dress! They depend on what you do at midnight in sweats and a t shirt with your hair a mess!
You singing “the wheels on the bus” barely coherently for the 20th time is far more meaningful to your child than whether you have great abs. Do we look at what our choices and genetics have done to our body and let that blind us to what our body has done for others and for us? I get that it’s not an either or…kind of. We can care for our bodies AND care for ourselves AND others. But think.
What was your body made for?
A pedicure? Or mucking out someone’s house after a flood.
A great workout? Or packing someone up for a last minute move?
We create life and we sometimes allow ourselves to feel like a failure if we don’t fit our pre-pregnancy clothes in a few months? Our bodies are AMAZING!
I’m not saying eat donuts and soda. I’m not saying pedicures and work outs are bad. I feed my body well because it has taken me amazing places. I like celebrating what my body can do and test it’s limits with a good workout. My body has helped me learn languages. It has brought me the most amazing moments.
The long kisses. The babies. The books read. The mountains climbed and rivers canoed. The people served. The hard stories listened to. My body did that! It deserves the best food as a reward for all it has done for me. It deserves the most colorful foods. I’m worth the time to chop and cook great food. My body deserves that!
Now sometimes our bodies disappoint us. We’re sick, sometimes for months and sometimes for our rest of our lives. Sometimes we have a great desire to do good and can’t physically manage it.
Sometimes our dreams and goals involved a body that is different than ours…not because it doesn’t fit into a size 8, but because it can’t walk, or see, or do what we think we need it to. “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” (Galatians 5:17).
Now maybe it is your role to not be the friends who carry the lame man’s bed…but to be the person who cannot walk. Maybe you are not the friend who leads the blind man to the temple, you are the one who cannot see. Maybe you have been trapped in your house for years with anxiety or crippling disease and identify more with those who need.
How does God look on that body of yours? “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” (John 9:3) Do you want more than that the works of God can be made manifest in you?
I promise that whatever your body size or shape or limitations…God has a plan for you. You are able and worthy to love and be loved. You can do great things for God.
You are not limited in God’s eyes in ANY WAY. What you most hate about your body might be exactly what God will use to show his greatness and mercy and power. Receive and appreciate the miraculous gift that is your body. Live. BE. Think. Serve and LOVE! You are not something to be posed and posted and objectified, you are the temple of God. Believe it until you can see it and live it!
Britt grew up in a family of six brothers and one sister and gained a bonus sister later. She camped in the High Sierras, canoed down the Colorado, and played volleyball at Brigham Young University. She then served a mission to South Africa. With all of her time in the gym and the mountains and South Africa, she was totally prepared to become the mother of 2 sons and soon to be 9 daughters. By totally prepared she means willing to love them and muddle through everything else in a partially sleepless state. She is mostly successful at figuring out how to keep the baby clothed, or at least diapered, though her current toddler is challenging this skill. She feels children naturally love to learn and didn’t want to disrupt childhood curiosity with worksheets and school bells. She loves to play in the dirt, read books, go on adventures, watch her children discover new things, and mentor her children. Her oldest child is currently at a community college and her oldest son is going to high school at a public school. She loves to follow her children in their unique paths and interests. She loves to write because, unlike the laundry and the dishes, writing stays done. Whenever someone asks her how she does it all she wonders what in the world they think she’s doing.