My oldest friend was my biggest fan. She ran ahead to prepare the way for me. She’d say, “Have you seen Aimee? She’s so skinny!” Or “Isn’t Aimee cute? Those freckles!” Or “You can’t make red hair like that in a salon, you know!” She made people want to like me before I even met them. She made life easier.
Then she got mean. I heard she gossiped and turned people against me. “Have you seen Aimee? She looks pregnant!” And “Why is Aimee so shiny? Is she sweating? Ew.” And “She definitely doesn’t look like someone who runs a lot.” I kept my head down in shame.
I hated her. I wanted nothing to do with her. I cringed and curled into myself.
I’m a rational and forgiving friend. When problems come I’m not afraid to address them, get the bottom of them, seek forgiveness, and extend forgiveness. But betrayal is different.
This terrible old friend is My Body. She betrayed me.
I believe it’s My Body’s job to defend, protect, and promote me no matter what. It’s her job to lie for me, like a good agent. I don’t need to go through the charade of getting carded anymore, but I’d like people to be shocked that I’m 43. I want people to say, “You had twins?! Three kids?! No way! Look at you! You’re looking tight, honey.” I want men to look at me and think I’m pretty. But My Body lets me down.
I want to eat lunch in my bathing suit at the pool without apologizing for how My Body makes me look when I lean over to take a bite.
I want to be excited to go to parties, openings, and dinners without panicking about what to wear from the moment I’m invited. My Body sabotaged my wardrobe. She doesn’t get along with my favorite clothes anymore.
I want to snuggle without cringing when my kids lay their hands and faces on my tummy. They smile and murmur with their eyes closed, “You are the softest, warmest place on earth.” I lay awake with my eyes open, hissing at My Body, “Great. Our kids will remember us as fat. Nice.”
One day I sat on the edge of the tub in my pajamas livid about what My Body had done to me. I couldn’t take it anymore.
I stripped naked and looked hard and cruel at My Body in the mirror. I started with my feet and worked all the way up to my hair, listing all the things that had gotten soft, dull, broad, bland, frayed, splayed, spotted, and creped. What had she done to me? Wasn’t she supposed to help me?
I challenged her, with my chin out and hands on my naked hips, “Do you see this? What do you have to say? Why have you done this? Why don’t you like me anymore?”
My Body quietly asked back, “Why don’t you like me?”
Caught off guard, I pulled my pjs back on and leaned against the counter to think.
My Body does everything I tell her to do. I told her I wanted to be a mom, and she created three babies. I tell her I want to run, and she carries me for miles. I tell her I want to have wine and cheese at 10pm on school nights, and she makes room for that. I tell her I want to live to be 85, and she’s pacing herself wrinkling, softening, and stooping.
I try to live authentically. I like the inside to match the outside. I hate lying. My Body knows this about me. My Body tells the truth, too.
I bit my lip. All that indignation melted into sorrow and regret. Because God loved me, He gave me My Body as a gift. I was so ungrateful. My Body served me and suffered with me my entire life. She didn’t betray me. I betrayed her.
I turned around and looked at My Body in the mirror again. I said to her that night, as I have so many times since, “Thank you for loving me. I’m so sorry. Can we be friends again?”
My Body said to me that night, as she has so many times since, “Yes.”
More Thoughts about Bodies:
- Are you friends with your body? Answer with a quick yes or no. Are you a bully to your body? Answer with a quick yes or no.
- What do you love about your body? What do you hate about it? What do you want to change? What do you want to never change?
- Why was it important for Jesus to have a body? What do you think about his words, “This is my body, given for you”- Luke 22:19? How do you give your body for the kingdom of God?
- Body acceptance is a hot topic. Are we allowed to love our human, broken, glorious, ever-changing bodies? Is freedom possible? What do you think of Psalm 139?
- Is your body talking to you? Do you have pain or chronic problems? What truth could your body be trying to show you about your lifestyle, habits, or choices? Are you listening?
- Most of us have felt betrayed by our bodies – we struggle with infertility, old sports injuries, chronic pain, gaining weight, illnesses, diseases, aging, getting tired. Why do we feel it’s our right to be invincible? Why do we feel shame when we’re not?
- I have a friend who teaches yoga. In some classes she leads a meditation about thanking God for every single part of your body. It goes like this:
- Find a quiet safe place where you won’t be interrupted.
- Standing up or laying down, gently touch every part of your body and thank God for it. Everyone will be thankful for different reasons.
- “Thank you, God, for my feet. They carry me where I need to go.”
- “Thank you, God, for my toes. They pick up cat toys.”
- “Thank you, God, for my belly. It digests my food.”
- “Thank you God, for my butt. It gives me the power to go up the stairs.”
- Do your whole body. Your lungs, lips, scars, ears, everything. Especially the parts you normally complain about.
- This is very hard for most of us. If it sounds stupid or impossible, listen to that resistance – what are you so averse to? Maybe you and a friend could challenge each other to try it and report back.