Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself…
1 Corinthians 6:19 (NLT)
For many this is a well-known passage in which the apostle Paul explains the importance of sexual purity. Paul explains that “God bought you with a high price. So, you must honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)
Recently I have had to revisit the relationship I have with my body. For much of my adult life I have been an ardent body builder, in pursuit of the perfect physique. In my mind bodily perfection is connotated with increasing levels of physical exercise (weightlifting, cardio etc.), dietary restriction and supplementation thrown in for good measure. I have pushed my body to various limits, always thinking that I could achieve more. Along the way I developed a significant skill in the type of bodily self-criticism that can be devastating and insatiable.
The necessity for a surgical procedure to correct a spinal misalignment has resulted in a forced departure from my various exercise routines. This space has allowed me to inventory the types of conversations I have had with my body over the years and the type of steward I have been of this, my temple of the Holy Spirit. Suffice it to say that I have recognized a pattern in which my envisioning of the perfect physique has overridden the need for personal acceptance, grace, gentleness, and rest. Even with this, my body has been faithful in keeping me free of illness and other maladies that have overcome others. I am adjusting these patterns by being more attentive to my body and its need for protection from my goal-driven mind.
How good a steward of your body are you? Are you nourishing it the way it needs? Are you providing it with adequate opportunity for rest and rejuvenation? Are you exercising it in a way that improves its functioning and ability to resist various types of illnesses but at the same time applying moderation? What internal conversations are you having when you look at your body in the mirror? Are there parts of your body, when looked at, leave you feeling dissatisfied and discontent? Are your words towards your body harsh and critical or gentle and accepting? How are you dealing with the varying changes our bodies undergo as we age? Do feelings of shame, guilt or disgust overcome you? Are you sad/angry at the loss of your youth and the associated abilities?
If like me, you have struggled to be a good steward of your body, then answering these questions is the first step in establishing a better relationship with the physical manifestation of your presence in this world. If you find that the feelings that come up are too distressing and difficult to process, reach out to someone who loves you or use the services of a professional counselor.