“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well,” Psalm 139:14.
Sometimes it’s hard to read verses like this and find peace with them when our bodies feel broken, maimed, undesirable. These are not the descriptors that God gave our bodies. He made us good, in his image, fearfully and wonderfully. So then what happened? Why do our bodies sometimes feel broken? Why do they wear out? Why do we look in the mirror sometimes and wish to see a different reflection?
Our bodies had been designed in the image of God which is described in Genesis 1:27: "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." After Adam and Eve created distance between themselves and God in the Garden of Eden, creation—including our bodies—began to break down.
But God used this situation to write a beautiful redemption story. He would send Jesus to "comfort the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release the prisoners from darkness" (Isaiah 61:1b). Jesus came to reconcile us with God and he is now preparing our final home with him. We will not always have broken and maimed bodies. We will be restored and made new. What a great hope we have in Christ!
"We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing" Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:2. It is a marvelous mystery how God is going to transform our current, broken bodies into a "new creation." God is going to do a miraculous up-cycle of our bodies. And it will be glorious.
That is looking forward.
Looking to right now: God still is working all things together for your good (Romans 8:28). He wants us to take care of our bodies in this current state because our bodies are “temples of the Holy Spirit . . . You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:19b-20). This is not a call to shame, this is a call to freedom and abundance. When we make choices that are good for the body, we tend to have more energy, less sickness, and more freedom to become the people God created us to be.
What does it look like to "honor God with your body"? The quick answer is that it looks same for everyone and it looks different for everyone. Clear as mud, right?
First-- it looks that same for everyone in that we all have a body (glad we got that settled) and that our bodies have needs (big stuff here I know). We all need 1) food, 2) water, 3) sleep, and 4) I'm going to call movement. Our bodies require nourishment from food and water, rest through uninterrupted sleep, and movement whether through designated time to exercise or living a physically active lifestyle. Below, I'm going to quickly point you to a few resources about the first one, food. For the remaining needs, I'm going to put you into the capable hands of my sister, Ashley Darkenwald author of Living Wellness for Growth Groups, to explain how to nourish your body with water, sleep, and movement. Read her thoughts here.
Food can build us up, nourish us, and provide the nutrients we need to thrive. We can also choose to eat food that does not truly nourish our body, it simply fills a void temporarily that may or may not break our bodies down further. We support balance and moderation, so listen to what your body needs and wants. Consider this: "think before you eat. Is this going to nourish your body or simply fuel it?" (Living Wellness Journal).
On the Living Wellness Blog, we have a whole category title "Nourished Recipes" that include a wide range of delicious, easy, satisfying meals carefully chosen to nourish your body. In addition, we have numerous posts on healthy eating that include tips like completing a pantry makeover and eating healthy on a budget. Need something quick and practical? Choose one nutrition based goal that you are going to commit to for 7 days this week. Here's an example: I am going to eat a minimum one naturally green (or red or purple) food every day this week .
Second-- nourishing our bodies looks different for everyone. Some of us may need more water than others, more movement than others, more food or more sleep than others. Some less. God created our individual bodies, individually. He did not have a cookie cutter when he designed you that he then used on me.
The first thing that I would suggest when trying to figure out what "caring for your body" looks like is to 1) ask God what he designed your body to need and then 2) listen to your body. God created our bodies to have signals that tell us when things aren’t going well. He's just itching for you to pause and hear his voice. Let me tell you though, how he speaks to you is not the same as he speaks to me. Once you do #1, inviting God to show you what you need, #2 will be a natural outpouring. The rate of that outpouring is up to your Creator. He may use this journey in his grand love story of refining you. He is using all this to write your story.
I have found that when I ask God to speak to me about my body's needs, I hear him in a still, small voice, sometimes even guiding me as I reach into the pantry: "Do I really need a handful of chocolate chips right now? No. I actually just need a glass of water. I'll choose water." But let me tell you this: if I choose to reject that small voice, it grows quieter and quieter until I'm left feeling like I need to figure it out on my own. Has God abandon me? No, he never will, I abandoned him and so his voice has just quieted so much that it is such a faint whisper that I cannot hear it over my own cravings for satisfaction and control. My voice has increased louder than my guiding, still small voice.
Let's circle back now to where we started: honoring God with our bodies, the temples of the Holy Spirit. We can, and we feel so much better, when we take care of our bodies. For so many of us, self-care feels selfish and wrong. It is not. It is a command from the Lord to take care of your body. Did the Lord not rest on the seventh day of creation? Did he not command us to "remember the Sabbath [day of rest] and keep it holy?" (Exodus 20:8-11). One of my favorite quotes is the one I included in a favorite picture of mine below... "you cannot serve from an empty vessel".
Today friends, rest in knowing that your body was designed by God. And that he loves you unconditionally. Rest in knowing despite the brokenness from sin, that God will make it new. And rest in knowing that caring for your body, for yourself, is good. It is what God has called us to do. Do something today that will take care of the amazing creation God gave you, your body, and then take that moment to praise your Creator. One more thing: rest in the fact that God designed you and when he was done he declared his creation “very good.”
I pray the richest blessing on your journey as you pursue God, as you pursue health. as you pursue wholeness. You are not alone in this, welcome friend.
Caitlyn J. Hanson
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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to diagnose or treat any illnesses or disease. Please always check with your doctor before beginning any new nutritional or fitness program or before making any nutritional/fitness changes.