My deepest wound

In my deepest wound I saw your glory, and it dazzled me.

-St. Augustine

I used to hate my body. Somedays I still do. I was never one of the pretty girls, to this day I struggle to fit into that crowd. My wild red hair danced around my acne covered face. My smile gave way to braces, my waist was never tiny, my thighs have always rubbed together and there was always, always dirt under my fingernails. Every year February would hit me like a sack of bricks and I would retreat into myself. My bones would ache and my spirit would suffer. This always coincided with the end of the school term making it near impossible for me to truly succeed at school. “You are so bright,” my teachers would always say “I just don’t know what is going on with you.”

I was used to being failed by my body. So I learned to live outside it. I sought after God in sunsets, thunderstorms, and starry skies. I looked for spirituality in books, music, relationships. Anywhere but my body. By the time I was nineteen I was convinced that my body was evil, vile, ugly. I was sure that no good could come from it. I longed for the days of Heaven, when I would be with Jesus and this earth wouldn’t even be a memory. All the teasing, all the failing, all the times I didn’t measure up would simply wither away and I would finally see what God was doing with my spirit.

This theology worked for me. It was comfortable. It demanded my attention and let me avoid all my questions, doubts, and insecurities. Until a dinner conversation with some trusted girl friends challenged me to think outside my own box. The truth and conviction stayed with me throughout the next few weeks and the remainder of the season. The truth is this. Jesus came to earth, fully man so that He could engage with our physical bodies. He didn’t descend as a voice, or a philosophy, He came in a robe and sandals. He touched people, attended parties and died a physical death.

Over the course of a few weeks my theology began to feel less and less like truth and more like a lie that I had told myself to let myself be happy. Yes, God cared about my spirit, and He came to redeem my soul, but those are all just parts of a whole. A whole which isn’t complete until I include my physical form. It occurred to me that my relationship with my body was intensely broken, and it occurred to me that maybe this was the piece of the puzzle that I had been missing all along.

I have long agreed with the fact that magazines, TV shows, and movies do nothing to inspire self-worth or positive self-image for everyday girls like myself, and yet I was so under their spell I didn’t know where to start in my effort to untangle my truth from my lies. That’s when someone encouraged me to break a piece of pottery and try to put it back together. Although I was hesitant at first, something about it appealed to me. I went to the store, bought a piece of pottery, took it to my back yard and threw it at the concrete.

Seeing all the pieces laying there, sprawled out on my patio didn’t scare me or overwhelm me. They were simply broken pieces of pottery laying in a safe and peaceful environment. As I swept them up and laid them out I noticed that bits of dirt and sand came with them. I painted a canvas with oranges, reds and yellows on it arranged every single piece of pottery and dirt that I had collected. It was a joyous exercise and in it I began to see God as a joyful, boisterous creator. It felt as though repairing and redeeming my brokenness was not just a chore that God “had” to do, but rather a process that he enjoyed and one that held for infinite possibilities.

One of my greatest wounds in my adult life comes from ignoring and neglecting my physical body. I know that I have a long way to go to rebuild and restore what has been broken, but in the midst of this brokenness I have been dazzled by the glory of God. A sculptor, visionary and artist, who knit me together the first time and will do an impeccable job this time around. Our bodies are gifts from Him, and play a bigger role on this road to heaven than we might think. Embrace your body, for all of its flaws and perfections. Use it, find God in it. He is there.

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