Psalm 139:13-16 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous- how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day passed.
My teammate and I have been participating in an online summit all about women’s health, and hormones in particular. Stick with me, for all of you who just read that and got worried. 😉 It was incredibly fascinating to me to learn more about how our bodies are created to function with natural rhythms and cycles, how so many things like our hormones work without outside intervention but can get terribly out of whack because of external or internal stressors. I was reminded of just amazing our God is. He is the one who thought up adrenal glands, and the immune system, the liver to get rid of the toxins in our body, and the cells and the tiniest building blocks within us that keep us going.
When I used to think of my body, all I could see were the outward imperfections. Too tall, too skinny, not skinny enough, not curvy enough, or whatever it happened to be at the time. I sat through health class, listened to the advice of the world of whatever was popular then- eat this, don’t eat that, exercise regularly. I knew it was good to eat well (whatever that really meant) and to take care of my body, but I definitely didn’t stop to think about how intricately designed this body of mine is as part of God’s creation. Often we marvel at the beautiful flowers that open up in the spring time, gaze at the fall leaves and their vibrant colors or a gorgeous Midwestern sunset and feel our hearts brimming with praise. But do we do that with ourselves and with each other, remembering that we are part of God’s precious creation?
We do not worship our bodies, but we bend our knees to the Creator of these bodies and give Him glory by taking care of them. Sometimes we think that things like “self-care” and really focusing on nourishing our bodies is selfish and time-consuming. But I am coming to believe that this is what God wants for us, to do things that give us energy and strength so that we feel good and are able to steward this earthly tent that God has given us.
I think the first step in this process of glorifying God with how we care for our bodies is acknowledging God as the creator of our bodies and asking for His strength to do that well. Maybe we can already point to different systems that need some tender, loving care and maybe we are totally overwhelmed with not knowing where to start. But it is so important, at least in my journey, to start by giving our Father praise for His attentive design in us and really looking at what I think about my own body.
Everyone is different. We each have different bodies that respond differently to situations, we have different stressors and different circumstances, different challenges and different areas that we can potentially work on. So here’s another important key. Know yourself. Don’t just follow someone else’s diet plan or exercise plan, because those might not be the things that you are needing! I think this has really been missing in a lot of health circles. Until we really understand our own body’s needs and rhythms, then we might just be putting a bandaid on something and not really getting to the root issues. Sometimes we need those band aids in order to address emergency situations, but I think we also need to take responsibility to understand who we are and how we can best take care and nourish our bodies for His glory.
I’m so excited to keep learning and growing myself as I understand even more how God designed my body to function and how I can work at taking care of it. Thoughts, opinions, comments, questions? Are there ways you have learned to praise God for how He created you?
P.S.- I’ll try to follow up with a post as I put some really simple, practical things into place in my own life.
As my father once said, semi-ironically, “If I would have known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” Mmmmmm … apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree on that one. When we put our hearts and souls into our work, and our calling is to endure, sometimes we (and by “we”, I mean mostly “I”) have trouble finding the balance between coddling ourselves and wasting the inheritance that God has given us. I’m still working hard on this one. But I think the concept that I’m really liking right now is the concept of health as “resilience”. The ability to do what needs to be done (which isn’t always healthy) and to recover. Having seasons of “investment”, seasons of “maintenance”, and seasons where we have to make withdrawals. Sometimes that is part of taking up our cross and counting the cost. Looking forward to hearing what you learn.