This is the time of year when everyone and their uncle talks about kale chips, pilates class, “easy” ways to lose 10 pounds and keeping health resolutions going – at least through January.
I get it. And I’m with them (except for my research yesterday on homemade puff pastry. The butter, Lord help us all).
Last week, I saw that some bloggers were gearing up for a prayer event that happens once each month called 12 Prayers. Each month focuses on a designated issue or topic. The goal is to read truth and attack the issue with prayer throughout the day, in 12 prayers.
This month’s focus was, rightfully, body image. Here are a few prayers from the day:
“We pray that we would stop trying to grasp perfection for a vessel that is weak and dying.” 2 Corinthians 5:2-4
“Help us see where YOU find beauty.” Proverbs 31:30
“We pray that our souls would know the dignity we possess because we are made in your image.” Matthew 22:37-40
“We live our lives convinced these bodies are about us and our identity but we ask that you would take them back for your glory. When we forget their true purpose, remind us that these bags of flesh are tools for advancing your Kingdom, nothing more and nothing less.” Romans 12:1
I loved this mini-study for a few very different reasons.
It went straight to the heart of what our bodies are made for. We like to like our bodies. This study did not claim that liking our bodies is bad. But it can be futile. We’re so critical of ourselves, scrutinizing dimples and shapes and the hair on our arms.
And our culture has competing ideals – we’re expected to strive for the (albeit often unattainable) flawlessness we see on magazine covers, yet raise the white flag and sign body peace treaties, accepting ourselves for who we are now. What? As long as perfection is the metric of success that society pushes, real body peace is hardly an option – by earthly standards.
What if we bypassed this confusion and celebrated our bodies for what they were made for? Not just high cheekbones and tiny ankles. What if we didn’t “settle” for what we have, didnt’t over-eat or under-eat to meet the expectations in our heads, didn’t say we’ll be happy when we have visible abs or triceps?
I’m under the impression we have every right to celebrate our bodies because – for heaven’s sake – we were given bodies with breath! To worship, and to fulfill God’s purpose of advancing the Kingdom while we can.
What this tells me is that my vision and purpose for my body is not about working out. But it’s not about not working out, either. What I’m saying is that I should eat the kale chips AND the puff pastry. We can’t abandon caring for our bodies (we were entrusted with them, after all). But the obsessions and critiques and wars with food and super close-up mirrors don’t rule us. They can’t, because we’ve already established a higher calling for our bodies.
The study also opened my eyes to the encouraging power of Instagram. No, really. A while back, one of my favorite authors wrote an article about Instagram’s Envy Effect, or how it’s tempting to project our lives in idealistic and inauthentic ways. While I know plenty of that goes on, I love seeing examples of how media can be used for encouraging and building. The idea of 12 Prayers relies on scripture, a group of writers’ honesty, and a dedication to spiritual movement. Now it has me wondering how I can implement something similar in my circle.
On a related note, I came back around to this blog post that advises how to talk to daughters about their bodies. Should I have a daughter one day, I hope I communicate some of these things to her.
And thanks, Mom, for frequently singing the ‘Miss America’ song when you heard me walking down the stairs in the morning, before you even saw what I was wearing.