When my drill sergeant friend shouts to his privates their bodies are temples and they should respect and treat them with the utmost respect as he pushes them to become ‘all they can be’, I’m reminded of all the years I sat in the church pew and heard the same words. “Do you not know your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? Honor God with your body.”
The emphasis of obedience was placed on clean living and service mostly centered on attitudes and actions refraining from those moral sins such as fornication, adultery, debauchery, gossip, etc. Yet I was slowly killing myself. I hated my temple. I didn’t respect it. I neglected it. I abused it. We, the faithful, were to deny ourselves, to not think of our wants, that our lives were not our own, to take the focus off our selves and put it on our dedicated service. So I sat in those pews week after week convinced I respected my body because I was righteous by keeping it pure and holy. I wasn’t having sex and spent ALL my spare time in duty, responsibility, prayer, church, or volunteer services, living a selfless life, fulfilling the needs of others. Feeling completely unloved, unwanted, and unworthy. I could never do enough, be obedient enough, be faithful enough, and I literally ate my guilt and shame day after day, week after week. I lied to myself a lot throughout my life. I’m pretty sure I’m still lying to myself on some other issue I have yet to deal.
This is not a slap against the church or religion. This was my own failure. However, I do believe that MANY in the church should address the obesity and gluttony problem. Our bodies are temples and the neglect of them is just as bad as if we neglected one of our children. Yet, we attend Sunday pot lucks and eat out at restaurants and fast food so much, we put ourselves into a food comas, with huge smiles on our faces, neglecting regulation and the responsibilities to our bodies. We’d never consider that sort of neglect equal to abuse. I remember being in prayer once and heard the question in my mind, “Would you stand by and watch one of your children slowly kill themselves or would you do whatever it took to stop them? Would you risk their anger to save their life? ” My answer was an instant , “YES!” Then the soft , yet million-pound question followed, “Why then do you neglect and slowly kill yourself? You do realize you’re dying, right? You do realize you’re neglecting and abusing yourself? Imagine how much you love your children, do you think God loves you even less?”
I had to face the truth that I was killing myself, that I was an abuser – not of others, but of myself. I could have went one of two ways in that moment. I could have allowed that guilt to push me further into the ground and finish me, or I could lift my head and allow life to enter into my dead bones. There was a spark, a small ember of hope. That hope was love. I finally faced that mangled, ugly, dirty, neglected, angry, sad little girl inside me – and I embraced her and I dared to love her. Loving her didn’t make everything okay. In fact, it interrupted the life I had built for myself, and with a vengeance, I smashed down those walls. Then I started to build a new temple… one of life, of health, of peace, and of love. Just as I’d protect my children from those who would harm them, I too am learning to protect myself. I love my temple.
Protecting myself is to protect my mind, body and soul. I don’t go where temptation will pull me away or sabotage my goals. I’ve learned to tell myself, “NO”. I’ve learned to do whatever it takes to move forward, to push myself, to motivate myself, to train myself, and to protect myself. Those who knew me a few years ago wouldn’t even recognize me today – physically, emotionally, or spiritually. To many of them, I’m a disappointment, a failure, a lost sheep among the wolves. To me – I’m beautiful – and I’m not talking about my outside appearance. I love that little girl, and she’s now healthy, strong, and positive …and I will do whatever it takes to keep her that way.
So, to the defeatist attitude, the one that made the millions of excuses not to diet and exercise and take care of my temple, the one that used to rule, neglect, and abuse me in my old temple, I say, “I’m not that weak abused little girl anymore.” From the lyrics of my new favorite song… I also say, “Just look at me …I’m a leader. I’m a winner, and I’m cleaner, ‘cause I’m awesome. I don’t need you, ‘cause I’m neato, and I beat you, ‘cause I’m awesome. That’s right!”
Till next time,