our bodies, our vehicles

I drove my daughter to school today in our well used, deep blue Honda Odyssey van.  It’s rusted in a few spots, dented in the rear from our sons’ drivers education days, and smelly from transporting our dogs and athletes, wet snow boots, skis, bathing suits, and God knows what else.

That old van is worn out but reliable. Rusty but sturdy.  Beat up, but because I’m nostalgic, dare I say – beautiful.

Kind of like my body.

This body has undergone numerous surgeries due to inflamed tonsils, appendicitis, and several flare ups of endometriosis.  This body has birthed two sons, and held, rocked, feed, disciplined, and prayed for our three children. This body has given and received an abundance of life giving sweet love, from and to the same precious man for over twenty seven years. On many days, this body notices the effects, in its joints, muscles and back, of five decades of living.

This body is worn out but reliable.  Rusty but sturdy.  Beat up, but because I’m nostalgic, dare I say – beautiful.

Yes, beautiful in my eyes, but it wasn’t always that way.  There were many years when I was certain I got the shaft in the figure department.

Why was I certain?

Because the words that are spoken and the things that are implied to you as a teen and young adult, can and do stick.  And just like most girls in this country, I entered my teen years believing that there were certain bodies that were beautiful and certain bodies that weren’t.

I remember instances where it was pointed out to me that I didn’t measure up.

Surely worse than other’s opinions, though, was my own negative self talk.

And I told myself I was too skinny, bony, and not curvy or filled out enough.  Taking words from the Commodores song, I was not a “brick house.”  No, I told myself I was the wood picket fence standing ramrod straight outside of the brick house.

There was so much unhelpful, unflattering persistent inner dialogue that I carried around, but I wasn’t alone. If the conversations with and beliefs of my girlfriends were any indication, they too also felt and heard messages that they weren’t good enough. Like me, they criticized their own viewed imperfections and pointed out to themselves their perceived flaws.

It seems that no girls are immune to this external and internal scrutiny; Not tall enough or not thin enough, ears too big or eyes the wrong color, hips too wide or rear end too flat, a little too much of this, or not enough of that.

And oh, it’s all such a lie!

Our bodies were created lovingly, uniquely, and incredibly beautiful by a God that loves us more than we can even imagine. He has such pride in His creation. He created each of us individually, separately, miraculously –  with not one single human being the same as another.

His creativity is endless, diverse, and amazing.

Our bodies are meant to be our vehicles, vehicles that carry our spirit and our souls while we travel through this life.

Our bodies are not meant to be a measuring stick to measure our worth or for comparison to anyone else’s.  They are not meant to be used to draw attention to ourselves or to make us feel like we’re better or worse than another.

I read many fashion magazines in high school and college with unending ads of women with the “perfect” bodies. I watched movies where the camera always seemed to pan and then hold on certain women as they walked, and the men in the films, who were looking their way, would drop what they were doing and be completely stunned.  Because apparently what they were looking at was so captivating, it took their breath away.

And I fell for it … I feel for it and started believing that if I didn’t look the way they did in those ads and those movies that I should somehow feel not good enough and ashamed.

Ashamed? Ashamed of the wondrous, flourishing body God gave me, that can skip and jump and laugh and love?

I believe I’m no different than most women in saying that this shame caused me, at times, to hate my body. Then, around the time I started having babies and just when I started to see my body for the gift that it was and is, there were new things to contend with – scars, stretch marks, varicose veins and the like.

But our bodies were never meant to be left in the showroom, clean and polished, with no miles on the odometer and no grease under the hood.  Our bodies are meant to transport us through this life journey, allowing us to encounter the winding, hilly streets set out before us.

 I remember having an epiphany after reading about foot binding in Ancient China, how their society at the time of this practice ranked women with the smallest feet highest in status and refinement.  I couldn’t fathom women wrapping up their feet to the point of severe deformity, all in the name of class and acceptance.

But it’s no different than our own cultural brain washing and body and sex-obsessed society, that puts women’s bodies in the category of something to be worshiped, and blindly accepts that there are only certain types that define beauty and value.

It’s freeing to challenge that thinking and understand the truth.  That my body, our bodies, are just vehicles, divinely engineered machines, fully functioning modes of transportation in all shapes, sizes and colors, that start out shiny and new, but over time show the wear and tear of living and experiencing many miles.

And that’s just the way it’s supposed to be.

It’s the great adventure and the substance of our lives that’s the issue, not what model we drive.

Our bodies are just our vehicles, plain and simple.  I’m so very thankful for the ride.

I will be grateful for my body; rust, dents and all, and will humbly strive to drive this vehicle in a manner that honors and glorifies the one who created it. I will keep my eyes on the horizon and on heaven, on the compass that continually redirects me down the road that leads to God.

1 Corinthians 6 : 19 – 20  “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own, you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body.”

7 thoughts on “our bodies, our vehicles

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  1. Debbie, thank you for your transparency! You are so humble. Who knew someone as beautiful as you would ever feel “ashamed” of your body! You are a blessing to me and so many others. Thank you for being you!

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