Gosh, it can be hard to live in a body, let alone learn to love it. We have so many demands that compete for our attention, not to mention all the mixed up messages we get as women— how in the world are we supposed to take the time to honor these bodies God has given us?
In today's episode I share with you more about my own journey of learning what it means to be an embodied person. Here's what we cover:
1. Why so many of us bypass the body
2. 4 insights from psychology about tending the body
3. 3 ancient heresies that sneak into our modern thinking
4. The difference between what the Bible calls "flesh" and "body"
5. How to start to honor your body as a daily practice
6. How I am learning to dance again (but definitely not in public)
Want to receive free bonus content? Sign up for my free weekly email here
Thanks to our sponsors:
This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp. Give online therapy a try at betterhelp.com/ BESTOFYOU and get on your way to being your best self.
Go to www.organifi.com/bestofyou today and use code BESTOFYOU for 20% off your order today.
Order Aundi Kolber's new book, Strong Like Water today!
Episode 11 How to Love Your body with Christy Joy
Episode 19 My Stroke and a Process of Healing
Episode 36 Detox
Episode 44 Anger with Rowena Day
Music by Andy Luiten
Sound editing by Kelly Kramarik
While Dr. Cook is a counselor, the content of this podcast and any of the products provided by Dr. Cook are not specific counseling advice nor are they a substitute for individual counseling. The content and products provided on this podcast are for informational purposes only.
Try Softer, by Aundi Kolber
Strong Like Water, by Aundi Kolber
"The body is the envelope of the soul, which it serves to carry and to manifest. It is also the instrument of the soul, which it uses to effect whatever it desires. . . . Therefore, let us cherish the body as the divine workmanship that it is, and let us not defile it with impure thoughts and actions, but rather let us make it a partner in our spiritual life." - St. John of Damascus, An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith
"We are not angels, and our bodies are not separated from our souls; indeed, our Lord Himself has told us that we are not to kill the body. So we must try to make it holy and capable of serving God, so that, when it is united with the soul, the two will make a perfect dwelling-place for our Lord." - St. Teresa of Avila, The Way of Perfection
The Best of You Podcast:
With Dr. Alison Cook
Episode 48: Loving Your Body as a Spiritual Practice
Alison: Hey everyone, and welcome back to today's episode of The Best of You Podcast. Where we are in part two of a two-part series on Loving Your Body as a Spiritual Practice. Before we get started, I want to remind you that I do send out an email newsletter every week, with bonus content related to each episode. Almost, always, when I record one of these episodes, I realize that maybe a phrase or a word came up that didn't get explained clearly enough. So what I do in the weekly email is create some bonus content around some of those topics.
So in order to subscribe to that, it's free, it comes out once a week, you go to my website dralisoncook.com, and you'll see the Free Newsletter button right there. As my gift to you, for signing up, you'll get two free eBooks one on boundaries, and one on comparing ourselves to others. As well as a guided prayer reflection, that takes you through those steps that we covered in The Boundaries for Your Soul series. So you'll get those three free gifts, when you subscribe to my weekly newsletter.
My goal with this podcast, with everything I do, is to provide affordable resources to as many people as possible that brings together the best of what psychology and science are teaching us, with Christian faith and practice. So all of this is free for you, that's why we have advertisers on the podcast. For those of you who ask "Does advertisers help cover the cost of some of this work?" So I appreciate that we have this way of getting these resources out to you.
All right, so, today, I want to talk about living in a body. It can be hard to live in a body, even a healthy body, even a body that you love. Our bodies require our attention, they require work. And, frankly, I don't know that many folks, especially, women that have a really healthy relationship with their body.
There are some, but so often our relationship with our body is fraught. Even when we don't have a clinical diagnosis, even when we are, for the most part, maybe, even relatively healthy physically or medically speaking. We still tend to have a pretty complicated relationship with our body. And here is the thing about these bodies that God gave us. This is going to be sort of a love letter to our bodies, in today's podcast episode.
Our bodies carry so much. Our bodies carry our pain, they carry our joy, they carry our anger, our rage, our frustration, our tension, our stress. They carry our fragility, they carry our tenderness, they carry all of our bad habits.
Sometimes we don't treat our bodies very well. We don't feed our bodies very well. We don't move our bodies in the way they need to be moved and, yet, they continue to show up for us every single day.
Our bodies are amazing. We can neglect them; we cannot treat them right, we can discard them, sideline them, bypass them, as we talked about in last week's episode, on spiritual bypassing. We can ignore them and they still show up for us every single day. Our bodies matter. They help us metabolize our emotions. They help us pray. They help us honor our own limits. They help alert us to danger. They're a critical piece of this holistic life God has given us. That includes our mind, our emotions, our spirit, and our bodies.
But so often we disconnect from our bodies. We climb up into the safety of our minds. Where we can analyze, and criticize, and stay out of our bodies. But when we do that, we miss out on the beautiful embodied life God wants for us.
Now, personally, today's episode hits very close to home. Because over the last five months, I have been on a journey of learning how to care for my body. I wasn't expecting this process. Ever since I had a stroke, if you go back and listen to episode 19, I talk about how I had a stroke out of the blue, in the fall of 2020 with no known medical conditions. And as a result of having that stroke, and a lot of medical tests, and not finding anything wrong with me. There was still some mystery around what caused that.
Now, prior to that time, I'd never really paid that much attention to my body. I've been someone, to be honest with you, who has taken my body for granted. It's much easier for me to live a life inside my mind. I can crawl up outside of my body and just mentally talk myself out of anything that my body is feeling or bypass my own body, my physical limitations. I've known that I've done that. But up until I had that stroke and some serious medical issues, I didn't really do the things I know I've needed to do to care for my body.
Well, fast-forward to fall of 2022, and I just started to notice some things that didn't feel quite right, I was tired. It didn't feel like the tired of, "Oh, I need a good night's sleep." My body wasn't working quite right. And, so, I decided to go off social media in November. That was what I thought was going to be my big detox.
I knew I needed some time away, just some time to step back. Again social media, it has some good things, I've talked about it in the last few weeks. It's how I've met some really neat friends. There's a lot of good about it, but it's very disembodied. It's by nature very addictive. It's just such an easy way, especially, at night, or especially when we're stressed, or we're tired, or we're emotionally down, or sad, or feeling anyway that we don't want to feel.
It's such an easy way to pick up the phone and look for that dopamine hit from social media. And I had fallen into that habit a little bit. I've had pretty good habits with it in the past. But during this season, I had fallen into that habit a little bit. So I thought, "I'm going to just cut that out for a while, get back into some of these good habits."
I thought it was going to be a quick fix, and it really ended up being much more involved. It, literally, was just the tip of that iceberg. And I began a journey, over the past five months, to completely change how I relate to my body and it's been a pretty intense process. I'm still in the middle of it. It's learning how to honor my body, as a spiritual practice.
And, at some point, I'll share more with you what that looked like in my life. And how I'm learning to incorporate the care of my body as an act of honoring God, as an act of worship, as an act of living out an embodied faith. It's been surreal, it's been intense, it's changed my life.
And, today, I want to share with you some of the psychology, of why our bodies are so important to our mental and emotional health.
And I also want to share with you some theology, about why the body matters to God and some of the heresies that we unwittingly fall into. When we bypass, or sidestep, or minimize the importance of our bodies.
So I want to start off by talking about the field of somatic psychology. Which has done a lot to help us understand the relationship between the body, and the mind, and the emotions. It's a field of psychology that recognizes the body, not just as a physical entity. So like over here is our body; we need to eat well, we need to sleep well, we need to exercise, all these things that our medical doctors tell us. And then over here is our mind, and our spirit, and our emotions. And we do other things over here to help stay emotionally healthier, to stay spiritually healthy.
Well, what we now know, from psychology, is those two things are deeply interconnected, and I talk about that a lot in Episodes 45 and 46, with Aundi Kolber. And her new book, Strong Like Water, has a lot of information about that connection.
Here are some of the key principles that we have learned from psychology, as it relates to the body. Number one, it's the role of the nervous system and how the nervous system is this key part of us, that connects the mind, the emotions, the gut. Which gets at what we eat. What we put into our bodies that, literally, sends signals all day long back up to our brain. Which then influences our emotions, which then influences how we sleep. All of these things are interconnected.
Number two, somatic psychology talks about the importance of paying attention to physical sensations, that give us information about our external world. So, for example, tension in your body is a cue that you're tense. And that sounds obvious, but think about it for a minute. If you're going about your day and you're disconnected from your body, and then suddenly you notice that your shoulders are really hunched. That's a cue that you are not only disconnected from your body, but there's something that's bothering you.
And, so, instead of trying to beat yourself up because you're not feeling well, or you're in a bad mood, or maybe you're lashing out at your kids, or maybe you are feeling grumpy or off. What somatic psychology says is notice where the tension is in your body. And then maybe roll those shoulders that are tense, or maybe shake out those hands, or maybe wiggle those toes, or stretch out those legs. And as you begin to release the tension in your body, start to notice what happens emotionally, and I'm telling you, it'll be surprising.
I've been on a deep dive into this journey, in the last five months. You might notice tears start to come. You might notice "I don't want to do that because then I have to face the fact that I'm actually angry." So your body is holding that tension, or that discomfort, or that pain, or that emotion on your behalf so that you don't have to consciously feel it. This is what I mean when I say our bodies are amazing.
But our bodies also wear out. They need the rest of us to come online. They need us to work with them, not against them. And, so, as you start to notice where you hold tension in your body or pain in your body. Maybe it's pain that comes from a medical diagnosis. Maybe it's pain that comes from stress or tension, it could be either one.
But either way, your body is telling you something. Your body might be telling you, "I need you to slow down. You're pushing me too hard." And you don't want to face that, and you don't want to name that.
But your body needs you to pay attention, and it's giving you a signal through that pain. And instead of beating on yourself, which I have done so often, more often than I like to admit, and saying, "Come on body, let's just get in line. Let's just give you some pseudo comfort by way of sugar, by way of comfort food, by way of a dopamine hit from social media."
Whatever the thing may be, "To whip you into shape instead of giving you the real comfort, the real help, the real nourishment you need. Body. I'm giving you a fake hit of something that only makes it worse, in the long run." How often do we do that to our bodies?
Instead of listening to them when they tell us, "I'm tired, I need you to slow down. I need you to move me in a kind and tender way. I need you to provide me with actual nourishment instead of a quick hit, that's not what I need from you." My body says, "I don't need that quick hit from you, I need real care."
Number three, what we've learned from somatic psychology and psychiatry, is that trauma is stored in the body. Traumatic experiences that don't get metabolized. And what I mean by that is traumatic experiences that don't get witnessed, and cared for, and where the emotion is allowed to flow through the body. In a healthy way that is proportionate to the pain and the stress of the traumatic event, it gets stuck in the body. It's stored there. And this can affect not only our physical health, but our emotional health.
So we have to learn to work with the body as we heal from trauma that's been stored there. For example, it can be stored through tension, and imagine years and years of storing pain through habitual physical tension. It can be stored in our nervous system.
Where, again, you're constantly living out of that state of fight/flight. Instead of experiencing the homeostasis or the balance of a nervous system that is at rest, that is calm, that is able to be regulated, and restored to that home base. Where the body is restored to where it's not constantly monitoring the environment and living out of a stress response.
Trauma can disrupt bodily systems like digestion, like your immune system. There are so many ways, that psychiatrists and medical doctors are seeing the impacts of trauma on the ways in which these systems function.
And, so, we have to pay attention to the body, sometimes, as one method, not only to relieve and alleviate some of the medical issues, but also to begin to tap into some of the emotional pain. This is why trauma-informed work is so important. If you've got a history of trauma, if you've got a history of unhealed pain, to work with a therapist who understand a trauma-informed approach.
And, finally, somatic psychology has taught us some very clear interventions for how to improve that connection between our mind and our body. Now, again, I always recommend Aundi's work on this. Both her first book Try Softer and her second book, Strong Like Water.
She's got some very practical interventions that help you begin to mend that connection between your mind and your body. But simply beginning to pay attention. To take all that energy of your mind that wants to avoid noticing what's happening in your body or bypass what's happening in your body, and beginning to pay attention to your body as a spiritual practice. And at the end of this episode, I'm going to walk you through some of the things I've been doing as I've begun to pay attention to my physical body, as a spiritual practice.
Before we get there, I want to just briefly mention why this is all part of Orthodox Christian theology. This is not some woo-woo, new-age thing. This idea of somatic psychology. This idea that our minds, and our emotions, and our spirit, are all connected to this body that God gave us. This is as ancient as the days. This is not some new idea. Orthodox Christian theology has always taught that the body is an integral part of the human being. It is not separate from the soul or the spirit.
We see this in numerous ways in Scriptures. We see in John 14, where Jesus promises the coming of the Holy Spirit, that the Holy Spirit would dwell within us and we would no longer relate to God only as an external being separate from us. But that the Spirit of God would come to live within our bodies.
We see this in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 when Paul talks about the body being a temple of the Holy Spirit.
Now, often we think about that in terms of morality, in terms of sexuality, that's the context in which Paul is talking. But I would argue that it goes beyond that. And I would say we see it most clearly in the life of Jesus.
I mean, how amazing is it that God became a human body? Jesus is God in the flesh. Jesus lived in a body. And here are just some examples from early church fathers and mothers that show that this is not a new idea. St. John of Damascus, a Christian monk, from the eighth century wrote this beautiful phrase about the body, and I love this.
He said, "The body is the envelope of the soul, which it serves to carry and to manifest. It is also the instrument of the soul; which it uses to affect whatever it desires." So it goes both ways, he's saying. The body is the envelope of the soul; it carries the soul. It's such a beautiful love letter to the body, that it carries our souls for us.
What a gift! We couldn't be on this earth without it. What a gift, our bodies give to us.
And then, secondly, it's also the instrument of the soul. So as the mind wills, it acts through the body. And, so, we work together, all of these parts of us, in harmony with each other. And he goes on to say, "Therefore, let us cherish the body as the divine workmanship that it is. And let us not defile it with impure thoughts and actions, but rather let us make it a partner in our spiritual life." I love this.
And then St. Teresa of Ávila, a Spanish mystic and a Carmelite nun from the 16th century says this, "We are not angels and our bodies are not separated from our souls. Indeed, our Lord, himself, has told us that we are not to kill the body. So we must try to make it holy and capable of serving God. So that when it is united with the soul, the two will make a perfect dwelling place for our Lord."
So, again, it's the body coming together as the envelope of the soul and the two working together in this dance of harmony. To both honor God and affect change in this world around us. So we need to honor this body, even as we want this body to help us do the work of honoring our minds, hearts, and souls.
Jesus spoke about the body in several occasions, in the gospels. In Matthew 10:28 He says, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. Rather be afraid of the one," meaning the enemy. "Who can destroy both soul and body in hell." Now, oftentimes, this verse can seem as if we're saying the soul is more important.
So better to lose your body because your soul is actually more important. But that's not actually what Jesus is saying here. He's not saying that the body is not important. He's saying that the body will end, at some point. But we also know, from the life of Jesus, that His very body was also resurrected. And there are a lot of really smart theologians that have a lot of thoughts on what it means to have a resurrected body, and it's complicated, and it's mysterious. It's hard to understand what it will be like to be reunited with our bodies, for all eternity.
You think about the kinds of questions that kids ask, and I love these questions when they say, "Well, what age will I be, when I have the resurrected body? What age will I be?" It's hard for us to understand because we are so limited to these finite minds and these finite bodies. It's hard to understand the concept of eternity.
But there are a couple of things we do know Jesus lived in a body. Jesus died in a body, and Jesus was resurrected in a body. According to the New Testament, when the disciples first saw Jesus, in His resurrected body, it was clearly still His body, when they were on the road to Emmaus. When they encountered this man that they didn't quite recognize, so we know He didn't look exactly the same, there was something different. This is Luke 24:13-32.
Then it says in John 20:19-23, later that same day, "He showed them His wounds." So it was the same body, even though it looked a little different to them. He was in a body. And then on the Ascension, when He goes up to heaven, His body goes with Him. So there is some sense that the body is still a part of the picture, even after Jesus dies and is resurrected.
Which would suggest that our bodies will still be a part of the picture with us, not just for now, but for all of eternity. And, in fact, there are several heresies that emerged about the body in those early years, after Jesus died and rose from the dead.
History talks about a couple of heresies, one is called Gnosticism. And Gnosticism which showed up in those first few centuries, is much more similar to modern, new-age spirituality than what I was just describing to you we've learned from somatic psychology. Gnosticism believed in this idea that the material world, anything physical, including the human body, was inherently corrupt.
So the goal of the spiritual life was to escape from the confines of the physical body, and live on the superior spiritual reign where you're above the limits of the body. You can transcend the limits of the body. And I'm telling you, if you spend any time in any new age spirituality, you will hear a lot of this language, and it's very insidious.
That could be a whole episode in and of itself, to begin to discern some of these Gnosticism heresies. That are especially prevalent again in some of these new-age spiritualties, but that are seeping into some of our Christian spirituality, too.
And I want to underscore this idea that this is not a new idea, this paying attention to the body. Augustine spoke out, vehemently, against this idea that the material world, that the physical body, is evil and corrupt. The body was created as part of God's design. When you were created in the image of God and God called you good, that included your physical body. Adam was the first Adam. Jesus is called the second Adam; He came in a body. There's something about our bodies that matters.
Now, there's a second heresy that surfaced during this third century, in the early, early parts of our Christian Church history called Manichaeism, and Manichaeism was what we called dualistic. And what we mean by dualism is that it divided the body from the spirit. And, again, not unlike what was going on with Gnosticism. They believed that the human body was inherently evil and that the spirit was inherently good.
And, so, we're in this battle between good and evil. The spirit is good, the body is evil, and the two are fighting and combating. And this is really subtle, when you sometimes hear people talk about the battle between the spirit and the flesh. This is why I don't like to use that language, although, I understand, theologically, that that is a different thing. But when we talk about that battle between this spirit and the flesh, what sometimes makes me squirm a little bit, and I don't like it, is it's we do not mean that there's a battle between our spirit and our literal body.
When we talk about the battle between the spirit and the flesh. By the flesh we mean the sinful part of us, the sinful nature. We do not mean the physical body. I was often confused by that, even though I knew a lot of this stuff intellectually. I studied Augustine quite a bit in college and in my doctoral program.
There was a part of me that I'd taken up this insidious idea that, essentially, the body is inferior, the spirit is more important. We really need to focus on the spirit. It was a little part of me that I wouldn't have claimed, it was very subtle, very insidious, but, man, was it wreaking some havoc in my life that I've had to undo.
When we talk about, again, the battle between the flesh and the spirit, we do not mean our literal bodies. The flesh is just the part of us that continues to be our imperfect human nature. It continues to be where we carry woundedness, where we continue to sometimes want to go our own way away from following Jesus, away from following God. It's not our physical bodies.
Again, Augustine who was a Manichaean, himself, before he converted, spoke out vehemently against this idea that the body is inherently evil and that we should escape it. He argued for the goodness of the physical world, including the human body that God created. Remember that God called you good before sin entered in. God called us good as human bodies.
And then there was a third heresy called Docetism, which denied the actual humanity of Jesus. Jesus only appeared to have a physical body, but in reality, he was really spiritual, which again is a heresy. And we may be like, "No, we don't believe that. We know that Jesus had a body, He bled, He died, He did all these things that we did."
But it's really important that Jesus had a body. It's really important because it shows us that the body, this envelope of the soul matters. It matters as much as our mind and our emotions matter. It is the container for all that God gave us and created good. We may not like our bodies. We may not like caring for our bodies, and we may bypass our bodies without even realizing it, as I have done, in the name of superior spirituality. But this is not what God wants.
Learning to honor your body, learning to live in your body, learning to care for your body is a deeply important part of your spiritual practice. It's not only good for your physical health; it's how we honor the God who made us mind, emotions, body, and spirit.
So how do we love our bodies as a form of spiritual practice? I am going to be honest with you, today, I am a newbie at this. There was a time I could have probably waxed on about this from a purely intellectual standpoint, without really understanding it in my own day-to-day practices. And I'm just so aware of how human we all are, that I would rather be honest with you about that than pretend otherwise.
I am a newbie at this and it all started, for me, last November when I went off social media. Now I've been off for about five months, and as I mentioned, that was the tip of the iceberg. It launched a whole journey into the depths of paying attention to my body, at the cellular lived experience level. And I'm nowhere near done, yet, I am barely beginning.
But I am starting to build trust with myself again. To the point where I'm, very gingerly, taking baby steps to see if I can integrate what I have learned about paying attention to my nervous system. Paying attention to what my body, actually, needs in the moment versus the pseudo dopamine hit that I would rely on in the past.
I am practicing, now, in fumbling, uncomfortable, like riding a bucking bronco, ways, what I've learned these last five months, bringing that into my life. When, to use that ever so helpful acronym — H-A-L-T — whether I'm Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired because that's when we're most vulnerable to doing these things, that our bodies don't actually want or need.
What I want to share with you are just some very basic practices that I'm leaning into right now. To ensure that I care for this beautiful, of all beautiful gifts that I do not always think is beautiful, but I am learning to cherish the body that God has given us.
Number one, the first thing I do, when I wake up in the morning, is to remind myself I have a body. I have a body. I am not a walking mind. I am not a walking task machine. I am not a walking caretaker of other people. First and foremost, when my feet hit that floor, I have a body. And I say it to myself as a way of saying to God, "God, I have a body this morning. That body needs things from me. And the best way I can honor you right now is to check in with that body; is that body hungry?"
I cannot tell you how many years of my life I have skipped breakfast. I do not give my body breakfast. I give everybody else in my life breakfast, but I got things to do. I got to get going. I got thoughts to get down. I got work to do. And, then, somewhere around the middle of the morning I'm like, "I'm starving." I didn't feed my body. So this is a radical new practice for me, to hit the ground in the morning and go, "I have a body. What does that body need?" This is a spiritual practice. This changed everything for me.
This is not, "I need to go right into my prayer life."
This is, "God, I am honoring you first thing this morning by checking in with this body you've given me." This is not separate from my spiritual life. "Is my body hurting? Is it sore? Did I get sleep? Does it need food? What food does it need?"
And, then, a process of "What does my body want to eat first thing in the morning? What is healthy for it?" Not just grabbing a fistful of something and calling that food or nourishment. This takes time, this takes attentiveness, this takes attunement. There are lots of parts of me that do not like this. I want to jump right into the work. I want to jump right into the caretaking of others. It takes space away from, instantly, jumping into caring for other people to say, "I first need to care for my own body." This is hard for us, as women, and it's so basic and it is so not basic.
Number two, when, throughout the day, I notice myself reaching for those seemingly innocent go-to's pick-me-ups, pausing. And it's not just about inhibiting an impulse, or a compulsivity to reach for a phone, or reach for a sugary snack, or whatever it is. Whatever the food is, whatever the thing is in that moment that feels good, that we all know isn't actually what we need in that moment. It's more importantly, "What is my body saying right now?"
A lot of times, in my case, it's, "Oh, my goodness, I have not literally moved my body from my computer for three hours." That is not only not healthy for my circulation, for a body that has, literally, had a clot that turned into a stroke.
So it's not only that, it's my body wants to move and then I'm learning what does my body want. Because, again, it's not willing control over the body from the mind, which is how I have perceived it in the past. Which is "I should exercise."
"I should now take a walk around the block."
It's, "Hey body, what do you want to do?" And my body often wants to have some fun. It's like "I've been sitting here, holding you up for two hours. I want to move around; I want to stretch" Sometimes my body wants to dance. It wants to put on some music and wants to do a little five-minute shakedown; get out the tension, get out the anxiety, get out the frustration. It's been really fun to realize that my body likes little mini-solo dance parties, throughout the day, just shake it out.
Rowena talked about this in episode 44 on anger. When she talked about, in her family, when her kids are getting angry, they shake it out and have a little anger dance party, and just get the frustration out. Put on some music. This has been really interesting for me to notice, throughout the day, that so often when I'm unconsciously reaching for something, the real need is that my body needs some attention. It needs to move, it needs to stretch, it needs to work out or metabolize some emotion that I'm having.
Other things that my body likes, stretching, taking a walk when it's sunny outside. I'll look out the window and I'll just notice this longing in my body to just go be out in the sun with the dogs. Running around the yard, playing with them, throwing the ball, having some fun out in the sun. My body really likes that. Sometimes it wants a hot shower. Sometimes it wants to go to the gym where it can just bake out, sweat out, some of what it's been feeling.
Breathing, again, not just because my psychologist's brain has told me, "This is what you're supposed to do. You are supposed to take deep breaths." No, actually, feeling in my body what it feels like to slow down my breathing, and release some of that tension, this takes time. It's like a body time-out.
Another thing that's been really fun is to think about kids. What do kids do? If you think about children. Watch your children how they're wriggling, and moving, and dancing, and tussling, and wrestling, and on the ground, and they're throwing their head back in laughter. Or they're pounding their fist, or their hand on the table because they're so upset, they physicalize all that emotion. And, so, reminding myself, "What did I do as a kid?"
And remembering some of that in my body to let the body get some of that out. Not just for the purpose of, then, I can do my work better, or then I'll be healthy, or then I'll have checked the box of being a healthier person. No, because there's joy in it. There's joy in honoring this long-suffering body that I have, frankly, taken for granted, and have not treated very well throughout my life.
I thought a lot about David, and I'll be honest when I think about David, I cannot help but think about that beautiful scene of Kevin Bacon, in the original Footloose movie. I went back and watched that scene because it's just so etched in my memory, and I'll link to it in the show notes. Because he talks about all three Scriptures that I often think about, when I think about this movement of the body as a form of worship, as a form of honoring God.
And I'm going to close today by reading these Scriptures to you. 2 Samuel 6, "So David went to bring up the Ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. When those who were carrying the Ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull in a fattened calf. Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the Ark of the Lord with shouts and this sounds of trumpets."
I've heard that verse my whole life, but only now have I begun to glimpse and taste what it feels like to dance before the Lord. Not always in joy, sometimes in anger, sometimes in sorrow. But that physical action of honoring God with my whole body.
Ecclesiastes three, again, I've read this one before, but I love it. "There's a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to uproot. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build. A time to weep and a time to laugh. A time to mourn and a time to dance."
And then Psalm 149, "Let Israel rejoice in their maker. Let the people of Zion be glad in their king. Let them praise His name with dancing and make music to Him with timbre and harp."
There's so much to this spiritual life that we have. There's so much joy in it. There's so much, yet, to be discovered. I have been doing this work a long time and there are some areas of this journey of healing that I am such a newbie, and it means that life is never boring. It is always an adventure. I'm learning how to dance and how to move my body, as a spiritual practice before the Lord. And I pray for you, on this day, that you too will begin to love this body God has given you as a form of spiritual practice.
6th April 2023