Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Practicing Honoring Our Body

Today I took Esme to get her hair cut.  This is the second time she's been to a salon to get her haircut, and she did such a great job sitting of in the chair and looking straight ahead while the stylist cut her hair.  It was as though she was mesmerized by the experience.  It wasn't until bedtime tonight that we realized just how much she was taking it all in.

After reading stories, Esme became a hair stylist.  First she cut and styled Thomas' hair.  Then she sent Daddy out and had Mommy come in.  She told me to sit down on her stool/ottoman and lean back so she could wash my hair.  Then she told me how she was putting soap in, and then water, and then she got her blankie to dry it off.  The funniest thing is that Esme didn't get her hair washed this afternoon.  But she did see a young man getting his washed by another stylist.  Then, after Esme "washed" my hair, she took out her brush and comb and went to work on my 'do.

I bring this up because this week I'm thinking about how we practice our faith by honoring our body.  And one of the things I've been paying attention to lately is how we (particularly women) talk about our bodies with others.  What I've noticed is that a) it doesn't take long for a group of women to start talking about their bodies and b) most of the time this talk is negative...how we don't have the body we once did...how we don't like this feature or that...how we don't want to have pictures taken of us because of how we look...the list goes on.

As I listen to conversations like this, I can't help but feel a little sad.  And I can't help but think of what our young girls are learning from what they are seeing and hearing.  Just like how Esme was quick to put into practice what she saw at the salon today, it doesn't take our girls long to mimic this type of dissatisfaction and negativity towards their bodies either.  To me, this is troubling, because I believe we are created in God's image, and as the Bible tells us, "we are fearfully and wonderfully made."  (Psalm 139).

With this in mind, the best thing I think we can do for our kids, and for ourselves (as well as all those we love) is to make healthy choices and use affirming words.  If we focus on doing these two things, I think we will find they actually cover quite a lot of ground.  And by doing these two things, we will end up not only honoring our body, but we will honor God as well. 

I know from first hand experience how difficult it can be to refrain from making comments about the things you don't like about your body and from focusing on what you'd like to change.  It can be hard to not compare your body to someone else's or wish yours was different.  I also know that there can be a lot of baggage we bring with us when it comes to the subject of our bodies.

But despite the fact that developing a positive attitude toward our body (and then sticking to actions that support that attitude) can be challenging, it's essential that we do.  Especially since they don't get any help from popular culture in appreciating and respecting their bodies, I think our kids need our help in learning how to honor their body.  And they need us to model this to them from a very young age so that honoring and caring for their body becomes the norm rather than degrading and complaining about their body.

Our kids need to know that God created them and made them special, and that when God did so, God called it good.  And after they learn this, they need lots of role models to show them what taking care of the body God has given them means.  With this in mind, I'd like to invite you to join me in making healthy choices and using affirming words as a way of practicing our faith and honoring our body.

Perhaps you will write these words on a Post-it and stick it on your mirror.  Maybe you will create a jar that you put a dollar into whenever you say something negative about your body.  You might make a chart of the healthy choices you need to focus on.  And you might share this idea of making healthy choices and using affirming words with someone else in your life.

After all, the more people who are committed to this the better.  Because we never know just how much our kids are learning from what they hear us say and see us do.

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