I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well. – Psalm 139:14 (NRSV)
I don’t know how often we think of our bodies as made with the extraordinary awe of God, but that’s what the original language says. The psalmist was not worried about the economy of words because the same word for wonderful is repeated twice in a row. And the “I” that knows this so very well, is actually our soul – the breath of life, the image of God, placed in us by God. This awesome wonder is not a matter of the head but one of our very being.
Do we think of our body as an awesome wonder?
Do thoughts of our body evoke praise (or even thanksgiving) to God?
What does our soul believe?
Like many women and men, I struggle with body image issues. I’m never thin or fit enough. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, because I think back to my body at age 20, 30, 40… and wonder why I wasn’t happier with it (“If only I’d known then, what I know now.”) For some reason, my focus is always on what my body should be rather than just being thankful for what it is. I mean, really our bodies are miracles of God.
Sometimes we give up chocolate or drinking for Lent. I wonder if this is really about giving something up in solidarity with Jesus’ suffering or it’s an excuse to diet. For this reason, I struggle with fasting as a spiritual discipline because I can’t help thinking that I might lose a pound or two.
The Greek word translated as repent means to undergo a change of mind and feeling. The Common English Bible translates it as “changing our heart and life.”
Maybe what I need to give up for Lent is not the eating and drinking but the judgement and discontent. Maybe I should honor Jesus’ suffering by confessing my inability to view my body as God does. Maybe I need to repent from my failure to recognize that it is an act of rebellion (sin!) to call bad what God has declared good. And then, and only then, do I reflect on what I do to – or don’t do with – my body as response to God’s awesome and wonderful act of creation.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure. – Psalm 16:9 (NRSV)