A few days ago, a dear friend sent me an article that fit so perfectly with my last couple of posts, I asked her if I could share it on my blog. She agreed! And I didn’t even have to think up a fancy pseudonym for her. What a peach.
Article by Rosie Adle
Originally written for a Concordia
Deaconess Conference newsletter
Bodies are a good gift from God. We know they are not insignificant shells that our souls are itching to escape. We know they were created by our Heavenly Father and will be raised on the Last Day. We also know that our Lord Himself took on flesh, and His humble human form was laid in a manger and hung on a cross for your sake and mine. Now He generously feeds us with His own body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins and the strengthening of our faith. If all of that doesn’t make bodies important, what does? We all get it. Or do we?
When I was younger, I had some unhealthy habits. I ran a lot. Running is good, but running with the agenda of dominating one’s own body to achieve a vain, conceited goal is not good. I also manipulated my caloric intakes in bizarre ways, consuming 5,000 calories one day, followed by a scant 500 over the next several days. It was sinful and distressing. It was as much a mental and spiritual issue as it was physical. It affected me. It also affected others. I could not serve my neighbor with compassion and care when I lived that way. For one thing, I was entirely focused on myself. I didn’t see the needs of my neighbor because I couldn’t pry my eyes off my scale or my mirror. I was also not physically fit at that point. In spite of the rigorous exercise, my warped eating kept me in a perpetual pattern of unwellness. I just plain didn’t have the strength or energy to serve anyone around me. I failed to “help and support [my neighbor] in every physical need,” (Luther’s Small Catechism) because my own physical need—brought on by my own bodily mistreatment—prevented me.
About four years ago, that old pattern stopped being an option for me. Pregnancy and nursing a baby—and then repeating that process—altered the way I treat my body. God worked through my husband, my babies, and the Gospel to grant personal growth. But maternal growth aside, clearly it is a God-pleasing thing to care for the body He has given, and to not do so is serious business: “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? . . . a temple of the Holy Spirit within you?” (1 Cor. 6). We know that, but we still do not treat our bodies like we should.
All of us struggle to varying degrees, but there’s good news. God the Father took great care when He formed us in the womb. When He joined body and soul together perfectly and “richly and daily provides [us] with all that [we] need to support this body and life” (Small Catechism), He shows love and mercy to both. He redeems us by Christ’s blood! By grace, the Holy Spirit strengthens us in body and soul, even when the desire of sinful flesh is a different dress size. God remains active through His Word and servants. He forgives and strengthens. Now when I look in the mirror, I can say: “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.” (1 Cor. 6:19b). I can glorify God in my body just the weight I am.