Recently, ok… a couple months ago… I read a blog post called “A Love Letter To My Body.” I can’t remember if a friend posted it on her Facebook or if I found it stumbling from one blog that I read to another, to another, which inevitably always gives me new blogs to read. (like this one! I found it today, because I finally wrote this!) I love it. But something about it really hit me. It really got to me that this girl identified all the lies she’d told her body, and then apologized, and told it all the things she loved instead. If you’ve read anything else I’ve ever written, you’ll glean that I go back and forth with body image issues. Some days I love myself, some days I loathe myself. Some days, like today, when my stomach hurts because I’m positive I ate too many carbs (yay Camp food!), I feel like I should be mad but I can’t because I was finally starting to feel like I was losing weight DESPITE the Camp food! And that’s an accomplishment in itself.
So I put this exercise off, over and over again, because well, report cards. And then… Camp. I’ve been writing full time for a Christian Camp in Northern Ontario, blogging daily about everything that’s gone on, and taking not less than 2-300 photos per day on average for the entire month of July. August has started to slow down, because we’re into a different type of camping, and so I can stop being sorrowfully neglectful of my readers here. And I can finally write this. Because it has. not. left. my. brain.
I kid you not. Two months. It just keeps popping back into my head…. “you need to write this.”
And so, here goes nothing. A love letter to my body.
When I look at you, I’ll admit, I’m not usually very nice. I stand and critique; I judge; I compare you to others’ bodies, even though, knowing what I know about my Western Culture and its pervasive frenzy over perfect, thin, lean, sculpted bodies… I’m sure those I compare you to are doing the very same thing. I’m positive. Many of them, at least.
I look at your legs – the ones that carry me up and down stairs, the ones that work every bit the way they’re supposed to, the ones that have run two races, and are aching to train for the one in a month. I look at those legs, and I sigh because I normally see cellulite, and I have never seen a thigh gap.
I look at your tummy – I see the chocolate and the candy, I see the carbs, I see the junk. It’s hiding there. In pretty plain sight…. But that’s not very fair, is it? Because I often overlook the temporary home for my future babies, and the place where you digest all of my food… and even though I don’t always make great choices, I have to say when I think about it, I’m pretty thankful for no major allergies and restrictions, and that’s because you work the way you should.
I’ve resented your weakness because I rolled our ankle in December, and it never healed quite right. I’ve lamented how hard that’s made it to run, and I’ve let fear of rolling it again stop me from doing what I know I should be doing.
I’ve said many bad things about you. I’ve judged you harshly and unfairly. I’ve called you huge, weak, and disgusting, and I’ve walked away from mirrors sad. I’ve tried to do too much, too fast, without training properly, and then I’ve given up because you failed me and we got hurt. I make jokes about you that seem harmless enough, but every time I make them, I believe them more and more. I’ve listened to the lies that others have told me about you. When they wrote on the bathroom stalls in high school that I was a fat, ugly cow… I blamed you, not them. When boys went for prettier, smaller girls, I blamed you then, too. It never seemed to matter to me that they weren’t nice boys, and they didn’t treat those girls well. That wasn’t important. They didn’t pick us, so I was mad. I’ve listened to the lies the media tells us… all of us… that no matter what we look like or what size we are, we’re never quite good enough. There’s always something better. I almost let those lies trick us into an eating disorder. I almost believed that a size 10 was still fat, and that I still needed to drop 20 pounds. What was I thinking? Now, I’m thankful for the Camp Food that saved us from that disaster…
But here’s the thing.
I’m done. I’m done calling you names behind anyone else’s back. I’m done staring you down and finding the bad things to say about you. And I’m done believing the bad things anyone else has to say about you.
And I’m sorry.
What I should see when I look in those mirrors is a beautiful, loved-more-than-anything Child of God. And I will. Because when I really, really look… when I ask God to help me see truth, I see legs that are strong. Legs that power through races, even if they don’t do it as quickly as I’d like. That’s not your fault, I never pushed them hard enough or trained them well enough. I will run. Not because the world thinks we’re fat. Who cares what they think? Because running is fun, even though it’s hard, and because we both benefit from it.
I see eyes that sparkle and love life and find humour in silly, ridiculous things. I see energy and passion exude from you.
And so I make you a few promises. Covenants, even, because it’s a bigger word, it’s more powerful, and somehow, it feels like it holds more weight. A Covenant between me, you, and our Creator that….. I will push, and train, and push again. I will watch what I put into you, treating you with the respect that you deserve, because you’ve taken good care of me, and it’s my job to take good care of you. I will make our muscles hurt, but we’ll both love it. You remember what the burn feels like, right? I will love you, and treat you with respect, knowing that we will never be this world’s version of perfect, and that’s ok. I will not expect that out of you. I will get us healthy, and I will be happy with that. And after being heavily convicted this past week to let my yes be yes, and to not back down from the things I said I’d do, and to not say I’ll do things I have no intention of doing, I will let those close to us challenge me and keep me accountable to all of these things (when done gently and in love). But most importantly of all: I will trust our Creator to pour into me the truth of how He sees us, so that maybe in time, what anyone else thinks pales by comparison, and fades into nothingness. I will trust Him for the strength to see you for your good. Every day.