Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I like my body because...

When I was on my mission, I had very recently come out of an eating - disorder  (Part three is coming soon!  I promise!  I just have to...you know...write it...)

So while I was no longer binging and purging, residual hatred of the body lingered.

In my third (and last) area, I worked closely with a member who was in a wheel chair.  He is INCREDIBLY intelligent, and so so kind and good.  It was easy to love him because he was filled with so much love.  But he could not walk.  He cannot walk.  He will never, in this life, walk, run, jump, dance (at least..not in the way that I can.)  Yet there are still many things he can do, and so many reasons to be grateful for his body.

Huh.

Grateful for your body.  Ever think about that?  I said once in this blog that I wonder how many women worry about breast perkiness or waist measurements or smooth skin the moment she becomes paralyzed.  We hate our bodies for such superficial reasons, and yet without our noticing they bring us profound experiences daily.

What if you could no longer smell?  What if you were blind?  What if your arms were chopped off before your family's eyes (like the mother of a woman I met in New Jersey from Sierra Leone)?  What if you could no longer taste--sweet, salty, spicy, subtleties?  Even the elderly who lose their sight, their smell, their hearing over time, still experience joy and pain and beauty in their bodies.

What if we could ask more questions like these when considering our bodies.  Instead of -- "What if I gain weight?  What if my skin gets stretch marks?  What if I get wrinkles?  What if my breasts flop?  What if my breasts never grow?  What if my skin breaks out?  What if I have a baby and I never get my flat stomach back?  What if my hair turns grey?"

So, on my mission, in my prayers I began thanking God for all of the things my body can and does do. And as I did, over time, I realized how profoundly happy I am to have a body.

I remember one evening in the summertime kneeling by my old, rickety, steel-framed bed with the window propped open.  It was dark and the breeze brought in the stench of the city.  I have always had a keen sense of smell.  I took it in with delight, and appreciated the nuances, the hints, the notes.  Cigarette smoke, cheap laundry detergent, car exhaust, sidewalk lillies, candied nuts, body odor, beer, and the Hudson river.  This was the smell of Jersey City.  When I went back to visit my mission and stepped out of the PATH station onto Journal Square, the scent came to me along with a thousand memories all at once.  I immediately wept.

I'm so grateful that my body can smell with such acuteness and detail.  It brings me deep experience.

What about you?  What are you grateful for?  Why do you like your body?


7 comments:

  1. So many things entered my mind when I finished reading this post. So many things that make me grateful for this body of mine. The one that sticks out this morning is the ability to feel. The breeze, rain, warmth of sun, touch, soft blankets, cold, hot, wet, etc. I love feeling the wind all around me when a storm is just beginning. I love feeling doggy kisses on my arm, I love feeling Charlie's little baby finger as he touches and names the parts of my face. What an incredible blessing it is to feel.
    P.S. I just finished a most wonderful book called "Heaven is Here" by Stephanie Nielson. In it she writes that one of the most important things she wants readers to get from her book is that "a beautiful heart, not a perfect body, makes a beautiful life." Oh what good could come if more people understood this!

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  2. My immune system is very effective. I almost never get sick despite my unfortunately frequent all-nighters and close quarters with a variety of (presumably germy) people. This is a great blessing because getting the flu at the end of the winter semester can completely dismantle finals week.

    Also, I love my long hair because it tickles my shoulders and the back of my neck when I put it in a ponytail.

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  3. Oh I so need this right now! I've spent all summer doing everything "right" to lose some weight only to, well, not. But--as part of my quest to lose weight, I set a goal to run/walk 100 miles in 90 days. 13 days left, and I have 20 miles to go. I'm able to run for longer stretches of time without feeling like I'm going to pass out, my blood pressure (which was never high in the first place) has dropped a little more, and I'm feeling stronger.

    And I have awesome eyes and hair. I also have a keen sense of smell, and one of my favorite things in the world is when it's cool enough to run outside and a neighboring farmer has recently cut hay...I'm immediately transported to my most favorite memory in life. I never thought to be grateful for that. So thank you!!

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  4. These are all so wonderful. Thanks for bringing some joy to my life this morning.

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  5. I love that I can play lots of different sports. My eye-hand coordination skills let me do that. I love that mind will shut off at night so I can get a good nights rest. I love that my body will wake up early in the morning so I can enjoy watching the sun come up. I love that I can think, although, a little less clearly with three kids.

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  6. Thank you for this post!

    My immune system rocks, no matter what flu or cold others come down with, I hardly ever get sick more than once a year. I'm pretty sure I've only ever taken one legitimate sick day off from work, because I needed a root canal - not even a real sickness. My brain is super fast and I can do tons of puzzles. I can run when I want to, I bike 1.5 miles to school, I walk all over, and I can kick a soccer ball farther barefoot than some of the pros can wearing shoes. I'm able to donate plasma which pays for our groceries. Yeah, my body is pretty great.

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  7. I like my body because I can keep going and do everything I need to do. I like my body because it allows me to dance. I like my body because I have learned to be comfortable in my own skin.

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