Guest Post: Human Dignity–Part 1

My dear friend Stacey Schwenker has graciously agreed to share some of her journey through experiencing her sexuality as a single person during her 50 Day Challenge.  You can find more of her journey here.

Hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, Stacey now resides in Washington, DC.  She occupies her time by writing, baking, and enjoying the outdoors through running, biking, and hiking.  She also spends copious amounts of time with her three wonderful housemates and the people at her church, The District Church, where she leads a small group on healthy Christian sexuality.  Stacey works in advertising sales for Sojourners, an educational and advocacy organization that publishes a monthly magazine and a daily blog (sojo.net).  Stacey is passionate about seeing healing and integration of our sexuality and spends a great deal of time reading, writing, and talking about it.  She also likes a good cup of tea and handwriting letters.

This morning I prayed naked.  This exercise is part of a 50 Day Challenge I am doing for Lent.  Some friends of mine created 50 Suggestions to Embrace Healthy Sexuality and one of them is strip the clothes and prostrate oneself.  For me it looked more like huddling under my covers to stay warm (my bedroom is in a basement and my sensitive body doesn’t much care for its constant 65 degrees).

As I sat there praying, naturally I thought about my body.  At first I began to consider all of its shapes and sizes—the feel of my skin and hair and curves underneath my palms.  I thought about its beauty and how uniquely it was created.  There are few other things that have skin similar to us humans or a bone structure like ours.  And we each have our own and only attributes: fingerprints that never have and never will have any match; the unique combination of height, hair color, facial composition, and idiosyncrasies. 

I am the only me.  You are the only you.  Ever.  Period.  We truly are uniquely and fearfully made (Ps 139:14).  Molded with God’s own hands and done so that we are each special to him.  I am who he meant me to be.  He set each bone in place and laced each fiber of muscle and sinew.  He etched each eyelash and painted on every fingernail.

And because of this, I am beautiful to God.  Things that others might scoff at or look down upon, God embraces and finds endearing.  Understanding how God is so pleased and proud of my body means that I scoff at him when I reject parts of my physical attributes.  I do not fully understand grace if I do not treat my body with the love and respect that one of God’s beloveds deserves.

True, I have the ability to impact my flesh and bones.  I can influence my weight, my hair and eye color, my amount of hair, and my muscle mass.  I can dress it up or dress it down.  But, in all that I do am I honoring God with my body?  Am I caring for every cell of my body through my actions?  Or am I spitting in God’s face?

Sitting in my bed I also thought about my vulnerability.  Being stripped from things that hide me.  It felt like a barrier had been removed between me and God.  It wasn’t like I was clinging to my clothing in an effort to distance myself from him.  Rather, I just realized how he sees me all the time.  I felt more human and I felt him as more of God.  Somehow I could experience his love more deeply.  I wasn’t earning his love by creating or doing.  I was stuck in all my birthday suit nakedness to lie before him.  And he accepts me.  He loves me……

Come back tomorrow for the thrilling conclusion!

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About Laura K. Cavanaugh

I'm a writer, spiritual director, and advocate of holistic body theology.

Posted on March 6, 2012, in Guest post, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. interesting. as I was reading Stacey’s story I couldn’t help thinking (what I’m always thinking) what about those who see shame in their bodies? I always go there because of my ministry but it’s a truth that some women live with. Their bodies, because of abuse, are something they loath. It could be because they couldn’t fight back or they had an orgasm when they didn’t want to. When we think about sexuality and body theology we cannot forget those for whom sexuality and their body are horrible reminders of how they were abused.

    But I also thought I could use this idea in ministry as a healing activity. So of the three of us, no matter what ideas you two bring up I’ll add in how the idea can redeem those who don’t naturally go there ;).

    • Laura Cavanaugh

      Hi Tammy, I’m sure Stacey will respond to your comment soon. I just wanted to say that you are welcome to share your perspective in a guest post anytime. Perhaps after the quarter ends?

    • Thanks for both of your comments! Tammy, it’s interesting that you brought that up. Though it’s not something I had thought of — the very reason I didn’t think of it was that it is not my story and so we both did the same things: thought about our stories. Which is kind of what I was thinking about when I wrote this — that though my story is one free from the burden of abuse, all the more reason to fight for others who have been abused and their bodies are sources of shame.

  1. Pingback: What Laywers, Parents, and Carpenters Have in Common | Holistic Body Theology

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