Surrender the Temple

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

On Monday night at yoga class, we were in our relaxation/meditation at the end of the class, and during that part, I always try to just connect with God and let His peace in.  For the previous couple of days, I had been obsessing over a certain body image issue that I despise about myself.  That thought came to mind as I was laying there, and I had this little conversation with God about it.  (My thoughts are in regular print, the response I felt is in italics.)

If I am meant to have **this issue** for the rest of my life, help me accept it.

Outer appearance is just a sign of inner health.

So I should change things…eat better?  Be more active?  Lose weight?  Sleep more?

How do you feel about how you eat, exercise, sleep, and what you weigh now?  Do you feel healthy?

No I don’t.

You know where healthy is for you.

Yes, I do.  So…you don’t want me to count calories?

I absolutely do not want you to count calories!

So…I should just treat my body with the care that you would?

Yes.

It might seem interesting to you that God answered me.  I’m sure you understand, I did not hear a voice, or anything like that.  I just asked, and I felt the response.  You might say that because I was so peaceful and open to truth at that moment, I could hear what God wanted to tell me.  It happens to me, often not in words, just in that feeling of peace and rightness. 

But that’s not my point.

Why, oh why, is it so hard to get it through our thick skulls that it’s not about what we look like?  That what we look like just doesn’t mean anything?  That everything important about us has nothing to do with our outward appearance, and everything to do with our inner soul, our relationships with God and other people?

When the disciples wanted to know what they had to do to please God, Jesus didn’t tell them to keep a certain body mass index, or wear a certain brand of makeup, or have a certain hairstyle.  He didn’t tell them to get surgery to have more breasts or less butt.  He didn’t tell them to exercise at a certain heart rate for a certain number of minutes, or to eat a certain number of calories and fat grams each day.

He told them this:  Love God above all other things.  And love your neighbor as yourself.  Our relationships with God and with other people.  That’s all that matters.

There seem to be two factors at work, at least with me.  Factor number one, it is about what we look like.  We need to be skinny and made up and stylish and all put together because our appearance is the biggest influence on how others perceive us.  Factor number two, I don’t need to care about what I look like at all.  I can sit on my butt from the time I get home from work until the time I go to bed, 365 days a year, eat nothing but sugar and refined carbs and trans fats, and who cares what it all causes, because it’s not about what I look like.

Neither of those things are entirely true.  But neither of those things are entirely false.  But let’s think about what God tells us is the most important thing.  Neither of those things are about my relationship with God, or my relationship with others.  In light of God’s most important thing, how might I view body image, health, and outward appearance?

Health, for me, has a huge influence on my relationships with God and other people.  If I don’t feel well, I am not pursuing a relationship with God, and I’m no good for people around me.  If I want to love God, and love my neighbor, I have to have energy and ability.  That is health.

So, what about this outward appearance?  Is it worth anything?  Perceived physical beauty has always been related to health.  Men are attracted to women with a body shape that shows an ability to bear children.  Women are attracted to men’s bodies that show their strength.  We are attracted to people with clear skin, bright eyes, shiny hair.  Those are outward signs of inner health.

And, body image?  First of all, body image is not the same as body shape, or outward appearance.  Body image is what you think you look like, as opposed to what you actually look like, and how you feel that it affects your value as a human being.  For example, when I have any zits, when I look in the mirror, that is all I see.  And I’m certain that’s all other people can see, too.  And I further imagine that my “friends” are just pretending to be nice to me, because there is no way anyone could ever actually want to hang out with someone who looks like one giant zit.  At least, that’s how I felt all through high school.  Looking back at the pictures, some of them have a face with zits, some of them don’t.  In some of them, I just look like a pretty little brunette in a Catholic school uniform!  I never saw that girl back then!  None of them look like a person who doesn’t deserve to have friends.  That an example of how body image can make you look in the mirror and see something completely different from what is actually there.  Or make you see a much bigger impact on your life than your appearance actually has.

Based on God’s command, if I am confronted with a body image issue that is troubling or that I can’t stop obsessing over, I should think about what it really is rather than what I see.  If I find something about my outward appearance that I don’t like, I should think about if it is a signal of poor health in some way.  And if I find an issue of poor health, I should do what I can to fix it.  I am not a more worthy and valuable person if I do take care of my health.  If my motive for exercising and eating well and sleeping enough is to look gorgeous, I’m more concerned with myself than God or the people in my life.  If my motive is to be my best for my relationships, that does please God.  It will also bear fruit in my relationships.  The key is to surrender to God’s will, to listen to what He tells me, to follow His plan.

I’ve been watching a lot of Bruce Almighty and Evan Almighty lately.  Such feel good movies!  🙂  They are both essentially about a man who isn’t as “almighty” as he thinks he is.  We are just small in the world, and when we try to have control over our destiny, it’s going to go badly.  When we surrender to the Power that actually is in control of our destiny, we will find peace and joy, and a plan that is much better than what we thought should happen.  A quote near the end of Bruce Almighty sums it up:

You win.  I’m done.  Please, I don’t want to do this anymore.  I don’t want to be God.  I want You to decide what is right for me.  I surrender to Your will.

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