For more than half of my life I have had an unfriendly relationship with my body. Starting in adolescence, I tried to pretend that my body didn't matter. After all, I was one of the "smart" ones, so I didn't have to pay attention to my body. That's what the "pretty" ones did. My emphasis on brains over beauty was reinforced in high school, when I might get called for help on math homework but not for a date.
When I would think of my body, it was in terms of shoulds—should exercise more, should eat better, shouldn't be sedentary.
I have never used shoulds for my brain—should read more books, should do more puzzles, should figure out more solutions. No need for encouragement there, because I liked using my brain, but not my body. And I was more likely to have to tell myself to stop reading to get onto another activity than to tell myself to start reading.
I'm not sure why I developed this unhealthy dichotomy between mind and body, but I suspect that I'm not the only woman who has chosen one over the other. What I have come to realize in the past few years is that choice, and resulting dislike for myself, has been damaging not only to my body, but also to my soul. Because I was created as a whole woman, disliking part of my whole leaves scars.
Eighteen months ago I decided I wanted to change my relationship with my body. I was prompted by some medical news that forced me to look ahead and I didn't like the direction I was headed as my body aged. So I decided to like my body enough to care about it and invest energy in my physical well-being. And the funny thing is, the more I liked my body as I exercised it each day, the more I cared, and my body, mind and soul responded by thriving under healthier choices.
Along the way, I often wished that there was a magic pill that would be a quick fix for the weak parts in my body, mind or soul, because that's how we want solutions in our culture, now, without the long process. But I do know that wholeness comes from liking how God created me—body, mind and soul. And that redemption is a process, sometimes a long, slow process.
For my 54th birthday last weekend, I celebrated wholeness by hiking up a mountain—a mountain I enjoyed climbing this year—and one I would have hated and not been able to physically accomplish two years ago. I hiked as whole as I know how (still in process) body, mind and soul. No one part perfect, all in process of redemption. But from here on in my journey, I am going to endeavor to live as if I like the package that God created, not just one part. How about you? Smart, pretty, or whole? Body, mind and soul?
Written by Carla Foote