I have this love affair with British shows – Downton Abbey, the Poirot and Miss Marple movies, and more recently, Call the Midwife. It follows the stories of midwives in post WII East London. They somehow manage to make what was surely a pretty grim era look very cosy. Which is why I love it. Cup of tea love? In a recent episode Sister Mary Cynthia is assisting a labouring Gypsy woman toward the end of her childbearing years. The woman tells the nun that she’s too exhausted and can’t push anymore, to which the sister replies, “This is a brave, beautiful body…it knows the way, and so do you.”
Powerful. And true. I instantly welled up. Because I think of how my beautiful, brave body grew a sweet precious human, and bears the stretch and knife marks of that journey. And I think of how my amazing husband’s brave, beautiful body carries the train tracks of having survived being impaled. And how my little Judah’s brave, beautiful body endured two years of stomach acid burning his wee oesophagus.
Then I consider the times I have thrown my brave, beautiful body under the bus. Not literally. But the times I have compared it to another’s brave, beautiful body. The moments I have shamed it for not fitting in with a societal ideal. Instances that I have punished it by exercising while sick, or under-eating, or over-eating.
I was talking with a friend recently that is recovering from a battle with anorexia. She said that when it comes to general chit-chat about body image, she simply refuses to play in that sandbox. I love that. I have been endeavouring to do the same. I would like to nourish my body with food that it needs, and take care of it with exercise and rest. And I would like my motivation to be that God gave me this brave, beautiful body to take care of. The thing that gets so mixy in all this however is that the eating well and exercise can also represent an ulterior motive; a way that I can control my acceptability in the world.
My value is solely because God made me and Jesus loves me. I desperately want to live out of this reality.
My good friend Joseph sent me some books on theology and culture recently. I am about five pages into the first book. And I have had my dictionary out about five hundred times. But what I have learned so far is that we all have ‘liturgies’ (or common practices) in everyday life that are teaching our hearts what they should desire. Reflecting on this, I had a total moment. I’ve had this ritual everyday for years and years – as long as I can remember. I get the scales out and weigh myself before my shower. Every. Single. Day. It’s a very effective way to monitor how acceptable I will be in the world today. And it’s a total sham.
If I am to live in the truth that my value is not dependent on my external world, then my liturgical practices need a tune-up. So this morning the scales are gone (to the garage – I was going to throw them out, but I got them at the thrift store and they’re really funky, plus super handy when weighing luggage before a flight…). There will still be battles, but it’s a healthy start.
So here’s to not measuring my worth by a set of numbers. Here’s to letting my little bloaty belly just be. Here’s to appreciating this brave, beautiful body.
Love you guys,