I posted this on my personal FB page this Sunday morning March 10, 2019. I loved and hated it all at the same time.
“Whether you are sick or well, lovely or irregular, there comes a time when it is vitally Important for your spiritual health to drop your clothes, look in the mirror, and say, ‘Here I am. This is my body-like-no-other that my life has shaped. I live here. This is my soul’s address.’ After you have taken a good look around, you may decide that there is a lot to be thankful for, all things considered. Bodies take real beatings. That they heal from most things is an underrated miracle. That they give birth is beyond reckoning.”
“When I do this, I generally decide that it is time to do a better job of wearing my skin with gratitude instead of loathing. No matter what I think of my body, I can still offer it to God to go on being useful to the world in ways both sublime and ridiculous. At the very least, I can practice a little reverence right there in front of the mirror, taking some small credit for standing there in front of the mirror, taking some small credit for standing there unguarded for once.” – Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World
If I am honest with myself, and with you, it terrifies me really. To unrobe and stand naked before a mirror and offer gratitude – can I even do it? Can I look at my naked form and offer thanks to this body that my life has shaped. My heart wants to, but my mind…it is a tricky thing to turn.
It twists with
judgment and remorse,
comparison and regret,
wishing for something else, something less!
Taylor writes, “Propriety, reason, modesty, counsel, judgment — all these you make your prisoners.” Yes, a prisoner, that is how I feel – stuck between my heart and my head. Wanting to offer gratitude, to see with kindness yet pulled by comparison, judgment and all lack of grace.
I can remember a time when I wasn’t as plagued with this tug-of-war with body. A free little girl who loved her body and all the amazing things it enabled her to do. I like every other little girl looked in the mirror with adoration –
I was the bees knees!
And I was the cartwheel queen – cartwheeling more than I walked I do believe. Down the driveway to get the mail and back again, one-handed, with mail crumpled in the the other.
I could stand on my head for what seemed like hours, I spent alot of time upside down!
I could also scale a door frame like a spider hiding above as people walked unsuspectingly below. So easy to scurry up the edges, legs spread wide to brace the rest of my body. I was a circus acrobat in my own right. Daring feats and spins, my little body was amazing.
And then somewhere in middle school I forgot about her greatness as comparison and cliches became the struggle of the day. Fashion and hair, lipstick and name brands. I spent less time being the bees knees and more time trying to change what God gave me. I permed my straight, fine silky hair for fake curls. I penciled eyeliner to widen my small dark brown, sparkly eyes. I wore oversized shirts to hide my full blooming busty figure that came earlier than others. Instead of looking in the mirror to see me, I looked wanting to see others.
Taylor writes, “One of the truer things about bodies is that it is just about impossible to increase the reverence I show mine without also increasing the reverence I show yours.”
It works the opposite way too, as I judge myself, I judge you. When we are consumed with our inadequacy we look for what’s wrong in other so we can feel
In her book, An Altar in the World, Taylor writes about various practices, and all of it is pulling at my heart – but this chapter, The Practice of Wearing Skin, got me, AGAIN! I wanted to pull my hair out literally. When oh Lord, when will I be done with this issue, learn the lesson, be over this crap!? Is there an age when you stop caring about how the body looks and just live grateful that you can still walk and see and hear, that hair is still on your head and fingers still bend to write…when oh Lord?! It’s an exhausting issue I wish to be rid of, to live thankful for this “unique body signature” as Taylor calls it – that not only carries the physical characteristics but also my specific gait and gestures, posture and facial expressions.
Round the mountain,
deeper into the caves where the deepest of lies still cling to heart strings uncut.
I will walk…
and I’m bringing my scissors with me!
I believe in the body
I believe in its beauty in all forms, shapes and sizes
I believe we are not our body but yet we are!
I believe that everything I believe about the beauty of all the women I am graced to know is the beauty that is in me
I believe that I don’t see myself as others see me.
I believe I want to see what they see.
I believe in living unguarded
and I will stand before the mirror naked offering myself
over and over again
until I believe in the gratitude that will be found there!
I hope you will do the same!! Believe, live unguarded! Oh and don’t forget your scissors!