I’ve been thinking a lot about body image, self-care, and spiritual/physical health lately.
Kirsten’s tear-jerking, stunningly honest “Confession/Reconciliation” to her body deepened my thoughts on the issue.
It just seems that in life, I often (not always) take better care of things when I know they belong to others. For instance, when I borrow a book from someone, I’m scrupulously careful not to bend it, get anything on it, or write in it. If I buy a book for myself, I write in it, throw it in my backpack (the bane of all paperbacks), and generally use and abuse it.
I also take the best care of things that I know I’m absurdly blessed to have in my life–for example, my amazing digital camera (a gift from a dear friend when there was no way I’d have been able to afford it), my cars, and the Wunderhusband (though he’s not really in the “things” category!).
Recently, while agonizing over how unhappy I am about my level of physical fitness (and, to be perfectly honest, my appearance), I realized–with eye-searing clarity–that my ambulatory, reasonably healthy body is one of the most incredible gifts I’ve ever been given.
This is pretty ridiculous–I’m ALWAYS telling the Wunderhusband to take care of himself because he’s very valuable (to me!). And I grew up with multiply handicapped, adopted siblings whose mental limitations prevent them from even reading, much less going to college. So, I should have a keen appreciation for my health.
Perhaps because I’m almost always surrounded by healthy, beautiful, fit, slim, active, privileged, “First World”, Southern CA, middle class people I forget that being strong physically and mentally, having all of my teeth, being normal sized…all of those things wouldn’t even be a part of my life if I’d been born to a poor family in a 3rd world country, or born with a debilitating, un-treatable illness.
This perspective made me realize that my body does NOT “belong” to me–i.e., the fact that I don’t have an unpreventable disease or that I wasn’t born in a 3rd world country to parents who couldn’t feed me are factors I can’t take a bit of credit for. In fact, those factors are gifts.
And instead of being grateful and simply building on these extraordinary gifts, I gripe about gifts I don’t have–about not being taller, thinner, differently proportioned, more athletic….
And then, I devote massive amounts of mental and physical energy to trying to camouflage or change the fact that I don’t have those gifts. ::rolls eyes at self::
There’s another facet to this realization: I’ve pledged my life to my spouse, as he’s pledged his to me. After being fortunate enough to find a life partner, why would I abuse/devalue the body that allows me to share a life with him? I know I’d be royally upset if he didn’t take care of himself! :)
As someone who has struggled to set boundaries and to claim my personal space, it’s funny to see myself coming full circle and realizing just how much I belong to God and to my community. It’s scary, in some ways, but it also feels good.