A recent, perhaps even lifelong struggle of mine has been body image - believing I am beautiful. Seems there is always someone thinner, more tone and in shape, smaller rear, larger chest or just plain more attractive; within my range of vision. Some days, I see myself as an attractive being, but in those moments my attractiveness usually comes at the cost of others and their beauty as I turn a critical eye at what I "have" that they "don't have." None of this I'm proud of, none of it brings me joy or builds me up or allows me to extend love and grace out into a hurting world - but it is the truth of who I am.
I've tried to "learn" and "experience" my worth in the eyes of the Creator, recognizing that I am an image bearer, the "crown of creation." I've tried to extend that to my brothers and sisters, recognizing that they too bear the image of pure beauty and magnificence. I've tried working out more, eating less or eating "better", buying clothes that are more "flattering to my figure", etc. Occassionally, such changes serve me and the world around, but more often than not, I'm left feeling crummy about my beauty and the beauty of others.
Recently, I've been reading some works by Rob Bell. He's great, he gets me thinking. I was reading Sex God the other day, I don't even know what specifically he was talking about, but the gist of what he was saying was - give thanks, be grateful, show gratitude - for EVERYTHING. I started thinking about this in context of body image - what do I usually think in regards to my physical (and even emotional, mental, spiritual) body? While hiking, I've been thinking - I don't like the look of my legs. Too short. Too stalky. Too this. Too that. Not enough of the good stuff. So, here is the new approach, give thanks...for my legs! What do I love about them? What can I appreciate about them?
For me, it plays out like this:
Thank you for my legs God. Although I could tell you the way I wish they were shaped, I'm going to thank you for what they are and what they have done.
Thank you for squirming, crawling, and walking.
Thank you for legs that took me to loving embraces of family and friends.
Thank you for legs that have ushered me into classrooms, to be educated.
Thank you for legs that were graceful enough to dance, strong enough to kick and brave enough to travel.
Thank you for legs that have made it to the Jr. Olympics.
Thank you for legs that have travelled through the states, Spain, Ireland, Morocco, and Southeast Asia.Thank you for legs that have stood firm.
Thank you for legs that have failed me, so I could discover Your strength and the strength of others, learning that I cannot do this on my own.
Thank you for legs that have enjoyed peaceful walks in unknown neighborhoods and downtowns.
Thank you for legs that lift me off the ground in moments of excitement.
Thank you for legs that have bounced children.
Thank you for legs that have ached after a hard day of working or riding a bike a few blocks.
Thank you for legs that have climbed rocks, Cloud Peak and many a staircase.
Thank you for flexible legs, legs that enjoy stretching.
Thank you for legs that walked down the aisle, to a committment that surly surpasses anything else this world could offer.
Thank you for my legs and the legs of my neighbors.
Thank you that our legs are not the same.
Maybe I don't think I have the most sexy and attractively shaped legs, but goodness, these legs have carried me throughout the years. I have been loved and cared for by many regardless of how "imperfect" I've decided my legs are. Who am I to be critical of these legs that have seen and endured so much? What about my torso? What gratitude can I bestow on behalf of my torso? Great meals, enjoyed with friends. Laughing so hard I feel the beginings of a six pack. Internal organs that keep my body functioning properly. And what of the arms? The embraces, the cheering, the swimming, the running. And the face? What of the face? The smiles, the tears, the songs we've heard and the songs we've sung, the sunsets we've seen. So much to be thankful for.
Oh world, friends, brothers and sisters, what is it that you can be thankful for? What about your legs? What about this body that isn't anything like what you see on the cover of a magazine, what has it done? What offers you common ground and brotherhood? What sets you apart, your legs apart? Why should we all give thanks for you legs?