There was cold and heat and the pain moved in waves through my body. It was the ultimate undoing, feeling like my body was going to split in two, feeling as if I’d die, as I alternated between struggling against the pain and then relaxing into it and embracing it. Because it was pain with a purpose. Birthing my firstborn took more than a day, and I held on and gave up, again and again. The three others that followed over the years were quicker – some languishing some fast and furious. But they all had the wonderful effect of grounding me in my body really for the first time.
I believed the lie that I was a head or heart on a toothpick; that my body was only an appendage of my true self, something that I had to shrug off and just deal with. So I’d pendulum swing between ignoring it and perfecting it to death, trying to grasp worth from form.
When you bear down and leave nail marks in your husband’s hands, there is no escaping the pain, no escaping that you are indeed a body and it’s only your body that can bring you salvation from the pain and fear. For me, it was birth that freed me to begin to appreciate the body for what it does, not simply for how it looks, or how it can distract from ideas. For you, it may be something else; but I think we’re all a little ill at ease in our own skin. A bit scared to put ourselves out there for fear that we’ll do or say or wear the wrong thing. We walk around with the soul-equivalent of lipstick on our teeth that everyone sees and we all need someone self-effacing and kind who can discretely let us know.
Our bodies are amazing tools and really, they’re vehicles for love. That means I love myself by what I choose to put in my body and how I take care of it through exercise — not to make it into a perfect machine but so that I can be around to play with my grandkids. I also love others through how I use my body for their benefit. Now I’m learning to jump and play and run with my kids; to do ninja moves in the front yard even as people walk by; to dance to the music because the ones that I’m dancing with and for, I’ve carried so intimately in my own body. They and I traveled the path together that moves towards a grace that comes pouring out in blood. A grace of knowing and being known, that accepts the oddities and imperfections whether they are physical or not, because they mark us uniquely as people. For it is in giving that we receive and it is in dying that we are brought to newness of life — a life of the body and soul.
This is the twenty-seventh post for the Write 31 days challenge, where I’ll be writing every day through the month of October. I’m excited to see what comes of this daily practice. I’d love for you to comment, pin the above image, share posts and subscribe to receive posts to the right in the sidebar as we work through these things together. Posts in the series are all linked to from the first post.