It was Tuesday at Instructor Training retreat when I recognized the lie. The lie I believed was that I had to build the perfect body for the Lord in order to be worthy of His love, salvation, and to have His Spirit inhabit me. I spent years taking ballet and was always acutely aware of what my body looked like and how it moved, even as a little girl. No one had to tell me I would never look or move the way I should. I knew that just by looking in the mirror. I didn’t believe a perfect God would want to love or inhabit this imperfect body.
It was Wednesday that God brought freedom. We were offered an opportunity to do a photoshoot at retreat. I didn’t know why at the time, but I signed up. The sun warmed my skin as I stood on the porch and allowed the camera to capture exactly what my body looked like. The sweet photographer Tiffany spoke the Lord’s truth over me as I struggled to let myself be seen. At the end she had me take my hair out of tight braids and shake my head back and forth while her shutter clicked away. As she declared Scripture about God’s love for me, I found that for the first time in my life, I was believing it.
God created our bodies good. I’ve spent years studying the human body and how it functions. The more I learn, the more I am in awe of our Creator. There are so many intricate details about our anatomy and hormones and proteins! God, in His kindness, while crafting the enzymes and cells that enable me to use food as energy, also gave me a sense of smell and taste buds so that I can enjoy freshly picked strawberries and Mom’s chocolate cake.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (paraphrased in The Message) says, “Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? …So let people see God in and through your body.” Not only did God create our bodies good, but when we screwed up and went our own way, He paid the highest price through Christ to reclaim us—our whole beings—as His own. In response to that kind of love, I want to bring glory to the Lord by honoring my body and what it can do.
There are a few intentional things I’ve started doing to honor His creation:
Start my day with water. It sounds really simple, but when I start my day by drinking a glass of water, it is easier to keep a steady intake throughout the day. My grandma used to call this “wetting your whistle,” and while I never enjoyed it as a kid, my adult self is grateful for the lesson. It’s no secret that our bodies need water to function well.
Watch myself with gratitude. I have a small mirror in my basement workout space and it used to cause me to speak more shame and guilt over myself. However, I’m learning to use those glimpses as a chance for gratitude. Thanks, God, for thighs that don’t give up even after fifty thousand squats. Thank you, Lord, for the range of motion You designed my hips and shoulders to have. Sometimes, too, Thanks for reminding me that it’s okay to slow down. It’s not just something to do when working out, but also when I’m washing my hands at the sink or walking by a reflective storefront window. It not only helps me avoid the negative self-talk that use to pervade my thoughts, but it gives me a chance to talk to God and call out the good way He made me.
Move. This looks different all the time. Sometimes it’s a run in the sunshine, sometimes it’s dancing and drumstick workouts in my basement, sometimes it’s a barre or tap dance class. Throughout the Bible we read about people moving in response to the Lord: walking from one land to another, holding up arms, dancing, and bowing down. My movement—even if it’s not “exercise” by the world’s standards—is a good response to God.
Focus on Christ. Our eyes only have the ability to focus on one thing at a time. Our peripheral vision is blurry. When my eyes are fixed on Christ, how I feel about my body on a given day becomes peripheral and matters less than it would otherwise. Being diligent to obey His Word leaves less time for self-pity.
I pray that we respond to God’s love for us by treating our bodies well and honoring His good design. Stay hydrated, move as you are able, give thanks for all the things your body can do, and keep your eyes on Jesus, “for in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
Erin Kennedy is a wife, emergency room PA, and newly-certified Revelation Wellness instructor from Buffalo, NY. She champions the underdogs (go Bills!), loves the sunshine, and has more houseplants than her husband would like. You can find her on Instagram at @kennedyee18.
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HEATHER’S CARDIO STRENGTH INTERVALS- “YOUR YES”
This workout will flip-flop you back and forth between cardio and resistance training. Sure to keep your body guessing. Muscle confusion? No big deal. God is never confused about us. Get comfortable being uncomfortable in this workout. (LUKE 1:38; HANDWEIGHTS)