A Gospel Body
The body of Gabe has been on my mind of late.
My body is a mess. It brings me pain. It has a very loud voice both in the literal and metaphoric sense. And since moving to Nashville, it has become encumbered with weight I thought I had permanently shed.
In eight months, I have gained about thirty pounds. Why? Well, in Montgomery I had a regular pace and rhythm and way of eating and exercising. Some of it was directly attributable to our location/work/life. I had a beautiful neighborhood where it was a joy to regularly walk. I had few food options other than what I made for myself and the occasional special dinner. I had, at the beginning, a job so close I could walk to and from each day. And I was able to sweat my way down to just below the borderline of morbid and plain old obese.
Since moving to Nashville I have had a few big changes. So many good foods, everywhere. So much stress, so I eat all the good foods. Been working from home, so why go walking? Hurt my back, so walking hurts too. All of these things have given me a slow creep back up on my fatness.
I never had a six pack. I never had anything approaching one. In thirty-seven years of life, I have never had a body I liked. I have fought tooth and nail to try and just be healthy. Well, that’s not totally true. I am marginally healthy. I have at times desired a body that didn’t look quite so much like I enjoy food on the level that I do.
But how is this pursuit holy? Or is it at all?
My body image is a source of constant consternation. I can’t afford to buy several sets of clothing. I can’t even afford to keep the clothes I currently own in good shape. So I am driven back and forth, to and fro one might say, because I’m looking at myself.
Body image isn’t a female issue or a female and male issue: body image is a gospel issue. How?
Because our bodies, these rotting bags of vehicular meat, are a way in which God tells His story. It says that this world is broken down. It tells me that every day. It says that death still has a modicum of permanence until it is forever abolished. It says that this life, isn’t my best life nor will it ever be. But it also says that there are things to work for, and work for in a redeemed way.
I have dear friends who own a gym. Yes, like the lifty-stretchy-hurty kind. I wouldn’t challenge either of them to anything other than an eating contest. They spend their time, effort, and energy on training people’s bodies while, subversively, training their souls. They infuse the gospel into their training regimens. And they look like they actually enjoy this crazy painful world they have built.
I am glad for them. I want to be as healthy as they are. And I find that, as always, the measurement of frustration is the distance between expectation and reality. So in many ways, I have begun praying and seeking that God would allow me to shorten that gap. That I might find contentment when my t-shirts are snug and when they are loose, to paraphrase Paul. And that I could continue pursuing eating and drinking to the glory of God, not the glory of this body.
I must “aim for heaven” in pursuit of godly discipline and work in my own earthly body. Or, in other words,
“Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth ‘thrown in’: aim at Earth and you will get neither.” -C.S. Lewis