Do you have to be thankful for your body? No. No… You don’t HAVE to be thankful for anything, really, do you? But, I’d like to give you three ways that can help you be thankful for your body — even if it doesn’t look exactly as you’d prefer.
No, your body may not be magazine-cover perfect. But, that doesn’t mean it deserves scorn. Very little of what we have here on this earth (that is to say nothing) is actually without problems. Earthly perfection is just an illusion, my friends. We have to wait for heaven to experience perfect.
Here are three ways I think we can apply to be thankful for our bodies.
1. Think about your body as your house.
How many of us are thankful for the places we live? Our homes — be they dorm rooms, town homes, single family dwellings, farm houses or apartments — have a lot in common with our bodies. The places we live normally make our thankfulness lists, right? What if we determine to be thankful for our bodies in the same way we are thankful for the structures we sleep in. Follow me here…then, perhaps, we wouldn’t get so upset when they aren’t flawless.
For example. There’s this creak in our floor that I only hit when I’m trying to fill my water glass from the refrigerator. Sometimes it bothers me–like when I wake up really early and am trying to be super sleuth quiet so as not to wake my children (early morning time alone is not as enjoyable if it is not alone!). Sometimes, I point it out to everyone. “Did you hear that? There’s a funky creak in the floor, right here.” And, sometimes, I get so busy cooking dinner and bustling pans and pantry items around the kitchen and I forget that it’s even there.
Should I skip being grateful for our nice, warm, structurally solid home because of that one silly creak in the floor?
Of course not. Not after watching a special report on the news last night about all of the people who would not make it into one of the coveted homeless shelter spots on a below freezing temps night. Not after listening to friends recount stories of travel to third world nations where mothers would be so amazed by the blessing of having cold, clean water come out of their refrigerator that the thought of noticing or complaining about a floor creak underneath them (while they engaged in this miraculous way to obtain water) would not cross their minds.
Remember: our bodies are the homes God created for our souls. But we don’t separate our bodies from our minds, souls, and emotions. We were created with all three and God called it good.
They are subject to the impact of this fallen world. They have stomachs marked by scars of childbirth or knees marked by scars of an adventurous youth. We have freckles and wrinkles and moles in sometimes less than ideal places that give us character, uniqueness and distinction. And, that’s okay. These are ways our soul’s homes distinguish themselves from other homes. They help us to be identified in photographs or recognized on the street. But, they aren’t the only way we are defined.
2. Free yourself from the “LOVE your body” expectation.
Do we have to feel some sort of crazy love for these earthen vessels that transport our spirits around the earth for eighty some odd years (at best)? Hardly. Telling you to fall in love with your body to me ranks as ridiculous as me telling you to love your house. You can have a nice house but some days it’s going to sparkle and look great and other days, it’s going to be a big old, the- kids-went-through-here-like-a-Texas-twister, mess. And, that’s okay.
One day your house may be spotless and new. Not a mark on the paint or a stain on the carpet. Then decades later, it may start to show the signs of it’s age… nail pops, broken blinds, drains that don’t clear the sink quite as fast as they used to.
Your body will do the same.
And, while we do what we can to maintain our property: repairing leaky faucets and painting over the crayon murals drawn by budding preschool artists. We know that shiny and fresh are unrealistic expectations of which we can let go. Our lived-in standard can transition to functioning, comfortable and hospitable.
3. Remind yourself that your body is a temporary dwelling place.
If your level of discontent with the physical-you captures your mind, then remember this good news: Some day, you get to move out. Only, unlike listing your home on the real estate marketing and making sure that everything looks its best before it sells, you’ll get to just leave. There’s no requirement for your body to be show ready when your time is up.
But here’s something interesting I’ve only recently started to process. In Heaven we will have a new body. But, that body will still look like us. In fact, I’ve been studying the experiences of people who have had a taste of heaven and they repeatedly report that they recognized others in Heaven. Now, whether they recognized them physically or just spiritually, I’m not sure. But, I’m beginning to believe that what’s most important about going to heaven as it relates to our body image won’t be that we’ll have a new body. Rather, it will be that we’ll have NO need to look to our body to bring us glory. We’ll be free from all of that.
Today, I pray that you’ll take a fresh look at your body and be thankful for the home it does provide.
God created your body and although it doesn’t deserve worship…a little respect might just do it good.
And if you are convinced (or your doctor insists) that your soul’s home still needs a week’s worth of help from the “This Old House” fix-er-up team: Don’t be discouraged.
Your body is not a project. It’s not a Fixer-Upper. It’s not a WIP (work in progress).
Do what you need to do to keep your soul’s home in good working order, of course. But, give yourself grace.
How do you feel? Are you thankful for your body? Is this a helpful analogy?
Struggling with body image? Read this amazing book.