Archive | lewis

you are not a body

I have had so many thoughts on body-image swarming through my mind lately. After some of our team members at Kindred Grace opened up about it in April, my sisters and I had a long conversation about how we really talk to ourselves. Since then, every glance at the computer screen seems to be met with articles about eating disorders, health, pornography, lust, accepting one’s self, the approval of man and all of the many other topics that I’m realizing spurn from how we each see our own bodies.

It is one of those things I wonder if I could write a book about (but quickly realize many people already have!) because the more I think about it, the bigger the topic becomes. I used to think of body-image as something we talked to junior-high girls about to help them through their awkward stage. After that, my philosophy was always something between “God loves you, no matter what you look like” and “get over it already!” In short, I saw little value in discussing something so shallow and carnal as how a person sees his or her own physical body.

But then I grew up. And by grew up, I mean, made it through puberty. Was the body image message dead to me now? I felt pretty good about myself. I mean, I was no supermodel, but that was okay with me. I wore what I wanted and continually thought less and less about what my peers thought about me. I had this body image thing in the bag!

And then I started gaining weight. For the sake of honesty and clarity, I will say that I went from being a very small, underweight (though healthy) person, to being a slightly more average-sized person. In other words, I wasn’t fifteen anymore. Sit-ups were no longer second nature. Dessert no longer vanished into thin air. Then the strangest thing began to happen: I realized I had never been truly confident in my identity in Christ after all. I had been confident in my thinness.

While telling myself that I didn’t care what society told me to look like, I was secretly comforted by the fact that I happened to fit much of society’s criteria. Primarily: I was skinny. Maybe I was also pimply, flat-chested and gangly, but no one could call me fat. That made me confident, and the slight change in the scale pulled that rug right out from under my feet.

I began to realize how negative my self-talk was. “Well that’s lovely.” I’d say to my morning mirror. I’d get angry trying to fasten my jeans. I’d untag myself from unflattering Facebook pictures in which I thought my stomach was bulgy. I was nit-picking my own appearance.

And this from a girl who has been raised in a great, Christian home by parents who had always called her beautiful. This from a girl with super supportive friends who never criticized her appearance. This from a girl who weighs less than average.

Is this not the result of fashion magazines and photo-shopped movie stars? Is this not the crazy sort of thoughts that bring about eating disorders? Why are we ever shocked by those who starve and gag themselves when their whole lives, the world has been telling them they’ll never measure up? And what’s worse, that they’re unloveable. Look at the check-out line and you’ll find two things on nearly ever magazine: how to lose weight and how to get men and be sexually satisfying to them. The two are inseparable. It’s not about health, but about market value.

My mind reels with thoughts about innate worth and sexism. My heart weighs heavy with stories of girls on hospice, literally starving because they’re convinced, deep within their spirit, that they are fat. And life is just not worth living if you’re not a beanpole with balloon boobs.

I am linking at the bottom of this post to some recent posts that have inspired me and given me food for thought. As I said, the topic just gets broader and broader the more I think about it! Through all this, one thing has finally come to the surface of my mind and that’s what I’m going to close with.

Whether you are fat or skinny, confident or mortified, black or white, tall or short, selling yourself or hiding your skin, health-nut or couch-potato, there is one thing we must all remember: You are not a body.

You are not disfigured just because your body is disfigured. You are not unacceptable just because your body has been rejected. You are not unpresentable just because you’re hair is never like you wish it would be. You are not lacking just because you’re thin, you are not too much just because you’re heavy. You are not wasted just because you’ve shown yourself to the world, you are not unlovely just because nobody’s ever told you so. You are not a body.

You are a soul.

A living, spiritual being. Your body is simply your place of residence. A body is not a house. Tea is not a teacup. What use is a teacup without the fragrant, warm tea to be poured inside?

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and all the eyes turn away, are you ugly? Our eyes can only see the exterior! O, if we could see your soul!

Interesting links:

Food/Eating Disorders:

What is Your Foodview? by Jenni Marie

Dear Miss Indiana: Thank You for Loving Your Body by Emily T. Wierenga

Understanding Disordered Eating by Neeva Walters (also: Disordered Eating: Hope for Healing)

On body-image:

Women & Daughters: When You’re Tired of Media Voices Telling You What Beauty & Love Is by Ann Voskamp

On Body Image and Self Worth at Design for Mankind

Moms, Put On that Swimsuit by Jessica Turner

How to Teach Beauty in a World that’s Blind  by Natasha Metzler

What Makes You Beautiful  by Bailey B.

Health:

Is Physical Health a Spiritual Issue? by Tyler Huckabee

How sexism plays in:

Women Swiftly Running Out of Things that Aren’t Sexy @ Patheos (*minor language)

3

the gentle slope

Sunday afternoon, I had come home from church after spending several hours there singing, listening, praying, taking notes, flipping through the pages of my Bible, fellowshipping and attending a lunch meeting. I plopped onto my bed and surveyed my bedspread. Sundays usually find my bed in disarray because I clean primarily on Mondays. A pile of clean laundry perched on one corner, a stack of books where my second pillow should be. I’ve spent too many years sharing a full-sized mattress to ever learn to sleep in the middle, so the other side of my bed always seems to turn into extra storage during the week.

I glanced around at the books that had been left there. The Eleanor Estes book I’m reading aloud to Jubilee, a book on illustrating children’s books, The Christian Writer’s Market Guide from 2011 (which is, as I suspected, quite useless now) and my Bible. I remembered how my class that morning had inspired me to read scripture to myself more often. I’m taking a class on The Creation Issue and our teacher referenced some scriptures I had certainly never considered, much less meditated on. I also remembered how I’d had trouble coming up with a prayer request during our small group time. Was it that there were too many to choose from or that I hadn’t thought much about prayer at all recently?

I should really stop and pray right now. I thought. Not only did I feel that I should, but I knew it would be beneficial to me.  I was just about to stop and grab a pen and open my journal to write out a prayer when I remembered something I needed to do on my computer. It was terribly important that I check my Elance account just then. While I was doing that, I remembered that someone had sent me a message on Facebook I had never responded to. I opened up Facebook on another tab and quickly responded to the note. Wow—how did I already get this many notifications? I proceeded to click on each one and “like” or comment accordingly.

I was suddenly feeling very inspired to chime in on an interesting thread I saw going about writing. I put in my two cents with prolific ease. What was it I was going to blog about? I perused my search history to try to remember. Ah yes! My reading challenge. I wanted to pick up the pace now that June was upon me. I reached for the book on illustration.

Wait a second, wasn’t there something I was going to do?

Now, I don’t know a lot about spiritual warfare other than it exists. I don’t have a theological argument for how The Enemy works or what tools he uses. What I do know is that I suddenly come up with lots of “good” things to do right as I’m about to do the only really vital thing I can do: communicate with The Creator.

In C. S. Lewis’ book The Screwtape Letters, a demonic character writes:

Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts…

In my experience, Satan does not ever, ever tell me what he’s up to or where I’m headed. When I’m tempted, it comes in the form of half-truths and justifications. I am most often drawn away from God by being distracted with “good.” A good thing to do, a good place to go, a good thought to entertain, a good movie to plop down in front of. It is a very safe road to hell indeed to continually find more and more good things to distract you from the only source of Good we’ve ever known.

At another point in the book, the demon remarks:

It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.

Our hearts are already full of sin and impurity. You don’t have to teach a baby to scream or hit or be possessive or show favoritism. It’s our nature! What is against our nature is to go back to the way we were in The Garden of Eden before the serpent slithered onto the scene. To go back to those thought patterns and actions and culture is to swim upstream. We have to consciously open our spiritual eyes and see God all around us. This sometimes feels like opening one’s eyes underwater, unnatural and highly intimidating. Eyes are so vulnerable, we’d sometimes rather be blind than expose them to the truth.

We have to consciously shut out the impure thoughts and ask God to take them far away. We have to consciously take in the Bible, God’s letter to us, and “hide it” in our hearts. Much of the Bible is unpleasant, confusing, demanding, even gory and erotic. I’m not sure what sort of person, not seeing the living value of it, would choose to read it over and over again as Christians do.

We have to pray in private, knowing that God is always with us, and daily open our eyes under the sea, come sand come salt, and allow God to show us new things. We have to silence our sinful thoughts which want to walk us gently and comfortable into Hell or, in the case of a Christian, into a dormant state of no production or communication, and forcibly open the door for The Holy Spirit. A strange new visitor who does everything backward. Instead of retaliation, submission. Instead of gain, loss. Instead of taking, giving. Instead of hate, love.

EP-come sand come salt

Instead of life and then death, death and then life! You have to retrain your mind to see things backwards and upside down, but when you do, you’ll see things clearer than ever. You’ll realize that the first time you were born, you were born upside down and you’ve been walking around upside down ever since. The real life, the real reality, is the other way around and you must allow yourself to be righted before you can walk that life.

When He [God] talks of their losing their selves, He means only abandoning the clamour of self-will; once they have done that, He really gives them back all their personality, and boasts (I am afraid, sincerely) that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever. –The Screwtape Letters

You know that you should not sin, but do you know that you should not give, should not go to church, should not smile at a passerby, should not evangelize, should not read Christian literature, should not do a good deed until you have realized that all of that is but clanging symbols without a connection to and a relationship with the source of all that is good? Put down your book, blog, conversation. Put down your list, your calling even. Put it all down and pick up your eyes. Look up to Zion and ask yourself, am I trudging uphill toward a glorious peak, or slowly and comfortable sliding down the gentle slope?

8

speaking of church

freedom clickety-clack pic monkey

I have recently made an effort to be a more positive person, particularly in regards to others. I want to be less critical, more encouraging. We cannot condemn the world (that is, unbelieving people) because they don’t have grace. Therefore, as Christians, we often condemn one another. This is equally as foolish. Instead of bickering about our differences, I believe that we should focus on what we have in common: Jesus. And Jesus wouldn’t want His body to be divided. Rather He wants us to be unified in love for one another, encouraging one another daily and not tearing one another down. What is The Church doing right? I love to hear what others have to say in this regard. Though the truth needs to be known about Christians who have strayed (for we do have a responsibility to reach out to those brothers and sisters) that should not be our emphasis. This is a beautiful family we were adopted into and we should be eternally grateful.

I love to hear positive words about church (with a lowercase c) as well. Do you love your church/pastor/small group/church friends? Do you learn and grow and sing and listen?

I find this video very inspiring. Young people who aren’t afraid of taking Christ’s name and being a part of this crazy family.

Donald Miller on “How and Why I Stay in the Dysfunctional Family of God”

Mary DeMuth on “When God Makes you Eat your Words about Church”

C. S. Lewis on “Is Going to Church Necessary?” 

Li’l ol’ me on “Reaons Not to Go to Church”, “Reasons to Go to Church” and “Vintage Church”.

0

forgiving


{“People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered.

Forgive them anyway.” -Mother Teresa}


“Just make an effort.” My father had said.
My sister ignored him. If she was making any effort at all, it was to make things even more miserable for the rest of the family. Greetings were given the cold shoulder, rules were trampled, doors were slammed. This didn’t feel like my family, my home at all. It felt like something from one of those movies I’d never cared to watch about rebellious teenagers and hopeless situations.
We walked on eggshells for a long time. Too long. Eventually, I put down my weapons of correction and pulled on my shield of ignorance. If I didn’t know what she was doing or could ignore what she was saying, I didn’t have to get hurt. We brushed past each other in the hallway, even sat next to each other at dinner, but we never spoke. I’d cook, set the table. She’d creep in, inhale her portion, leave thanklessly. Had she been there at all?
But then, a few months ago, things got really bad. Finally words were exchanged, but on flaming arrows. Sparing the details, I’d say it was simply frightening. When the situation became volatile, arrangements were made for her to move out.
At this point, something changed.

{“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” -C.S. Lewis}


“Just make an effort.” My father said.
My heavenly father. To me.
It wasn’t easy, but He held my hand. A group of friends prayed over me. I knew now I had been harboring more guilt, anger and bitterness than I had previously let myself believe. She was nine when we started her adoption. Twelve when she came to the states. Almost eighteen now and it felt like we had made no progress. I emailed an adoptive mom who I knew could relate. Sometimes we need people who haven’t avoided the puddles we’ve stumbled into, but are standing in the mud with us. Sometimes, “I understand” can be salve to the soul. It was for me.
The incredible thing about my heavenly father is he truly never asked me to do anything outside of my power. (My power in Him, of course.) He asked me to walk the extra mile, but not ten extra miles. He set baby steps before me and let me rest. He taught me how to love my sister by loving me.
And he taught me so much more. He showed me, through her struggle, how much each of us need him. He showed me that, just as she is lost and hurting, rebelling against everything good and helpful, so was my soul before he dragged me out.
I was just getting the hang of it, just getting in the swing of praying out of love, serving without bitter, when she came to my room.
Crying, she apologized. Hugging, we vowed to change.
The most beautiful part of it all? When I said, “I already forgave you, even before you asked.” I knew in my soul it was true.

{“So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him.” 2 Corinthians 2:8}

3

562-579 (just to be clear)

562. hearing Jubilee sing “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here” from “Annie.” (She does like it here…) :)

563. these sermons to hold me over during the Summer 

564. Adorable A. (the little girl who I babysit), taking a nice long nap and giving me a chance to read

565. ceiling fans when it’s 104 degrees out

566. getting things settled in one’s mind

567.  “Don’t be too easily convinced that God really wants you to do all sorts of work you needn’t do. Each must do his duty ‘in that state of life to which God has called him.’ “
568. “You have more things you can do than things you should do…If Satan can’t make you sin, he will keep you busy.” 
569. “You would be very ashamed if you knew what the experiences you call setbacks, upheavals, pointless disturbances, and tedious annoyances really are. You would realize that your complaints about them are  nothing more or less than blasphemies-though that never occurs to you. Nothing happens to you except by the will of God, and yet (God’s) beloved children curse it because they do not know it for what it is.” 
-Jean-Pierre Caussade 

570. “…our perennial, spiritual and psychological task is to look at things familiar until they become unfamiliar again.” 
-G. K. Chesterton (haven’t we been practicing this all our lives, Birdie?)

571. “Apparently, I am too liberal to be conservative and too conservative to be liberal…” -Bailey (yes!)
572. “If you want to be parents just like my parents, then be parents who read the Word, submit themselves to the authority of a local church, raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, invest in them a thirst for knowledge, and laugh. Laugh a lot.” –Jasmine Baucham (precisely)
573. “We have the best babysitter ever!” -Mrs. Mom of Adorable A.
574. My future brother-in-law making lasagna for our family (it smells good from here!)
575. going to bed happy, thinking of my future in God’s hands
576. such a fun weekend with long-time friends, making a ridiculous movie, going to the park in medieval costumes when it was 103 outside, eating lots of tiny sandwiches and cracking each other up.
577. the fact that one friend’s boyfriend fits right in and has not, thus far “ruined everything” or “broken up the group” as our adolescent fears foretold.
578. the precious Winnie-The-Pooh drawings we received as going away gifts (when the artist was the one going away!)

579. snail mail promised from the now-faraway friend

Everly
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