Monthly Archives: March 2012

Forward Friday: Start a Conversation

This weekend, try using the Bible as a conversation-starter.  As you converse with someone who does not agree with you, remember to:

1) Listen before you speak.

2) Learn from the other person’s perspective.

3) Be willing to be wrong.

4) Explore both the boundaries and the space between through your conversation.

5) Look for ways for the current conversation to spark future conversations as you build a relationship with your conversation partner.

Come back and share your experience with all of us.  Let’s learn from each other how to be conversation-starters.

Conversation: Are You an Ender or a Starter? Part 4

If you missed them, read part 1, part 2, and part 3 first.

More than Presbyterian

When I met my husband, I had already graduated from seminary.  During one of our early conversations about our faith journeys, he asked me if I was still Presbyterian.  I thought about it for a moment, and then I said, “Yes, but I’m more than Presbyterian now.”  He thought my answer was funny, and he still kids me about it, but I was serious.

My roots will never stop being Presbyterian.  I will never forget where I came from, and I keep the best of my Presbyterian upbringing with me now.  But I am also a little Charismatic, a little Episcopalian, a little Vineyard, a little Emerging, a little Non-denominational, a little Buddhist, a little Mystic, a little Catholic, and a little I-don’t-know-what.

I’m in the garden now.  My roots are growing down deeper.  My leaves are spreading wider.  My buds are blooming.  I’m adding my rich and unique beauty to the variety of the garden.  I am learning to live in harmony with the different plants surrounding me.  We are all growing together, and it is only together that we can call ourselves a garden. 

Remember when Rachel Held Evans called the Bible a conversation-starter?  I think she was right.  What kind of garden would we be if we get rid of all the variety and uniqueness and try to make the whole garden look like us?  We’d be a garden overtaken by weeds.  Weeds put a strangle-hold on their fellow plants and force them to submit to only one expression of plant life.  Good gardeners uproot the weeds to allow more space for all the plants to grow freely and fully as they were meant to.

Let’s stop using the Bible to end conversations.  Let’s stop using our swords to wound and instill fear.  Let’s be conversation-starters.  Let’s allow the different voices of scripture, of history, and of today to shape and inform the conversation.  One of my seminary professors once defined theology as God-talk.  Let’s allow our theology to be a work-in-progress, a work toward discovering together the truth about God and the truth about ourselves because of God.

Boundaries and the space between

I read about a study once where a community member drove by her child’s elementary school and noticed all the kids hanging on the fence at the edges of the playground.  Concerned that the fence was holding her child back, she had the school remove it.  Immediately, the children’s behavior changed.  They began to congregate in the middle of the playground, fearing the insecurity of the edges they once safely explored because the boundaries were gone.

I’m not advocating that we abolish boundaries and play with an anything-goes mentality. We all need boundaries to feel safe and to bravely explore the fullness of the space we have been given.  Without any boundaries at all, we would be like the children gathered in the middle, afraid to explore and play in the in-between.

But we won’t know where the boundaries are if we don’t spread ourselves out and grow into the space we’ve been given.  Through conversation, we can explore and experience that space together and learn what it really means to be the body of Christ.

I used to be a conversation-ender, but I’m a conversation-starter now. Which one are you? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Conversation: Are You an Ender or a Starter? Part 3

If you missed them, read part 1 and part 2 first.

Uprooted

“Went to seminary” sounds so nonchalant, so casual and normal, as though I had said nothing more significant than “then I went to the store.”  Let me rephrase.

Then I was uprooted from the comfort and safety of my quiet little life in conservative Greenville, South Carolina with its gentle, rolling Appalachian foothills and temperate climate and dragged across the country to entertainment-saturated, liberal southern California with its rough, jagged Rocky peaks and dry, dramatic desert climate.

During a prayer session once, a young man I had just met that evening gave me a prophetic word that he saw me as a beautiful flowering plant that had been uprooted from my pot. He said the pain I was feeling was from being in transition but that I could rest assured that God was holding onto me and that I would be planted again soon, outside in the garden.

At the time, I kinda thought he was crazy. I didn’t put much stock in prophetic words, especially from people I’d just met, and how did he know I was in pain, anyway? I hadn’t said anything about it.

But I went home and cried.

He was right. I had been uprooted, not only from the pot of my life in South Carolina but also from my black-and-white Presbyterian perspective on the world.  What I didn’t realize at the time was that my pot was holding me back. I couldn’t keep growing in that environment anymore. I had outgrown the pot and needed more room for my roots to go down deeper and my leaves to spread out more fully.

Invited into the conversation

So I was in seminary, hovering between the security of my pot and the great unknown of the garden.  My roots were dangling in the air, exposed for all to see and desperate for water. It was in that space, the space between the pot and the garden, that I was invited back into the conversation.

In seminary, I was surrounded by people of faith–both conservative and liberal–all wrestling with scripture, examining their roots, being exposed to new points of view, and rubbing against each other in friendly, earnest debate. We were all working out who we were and what we believed.  We were all trying on new ideas and perspectives.  We were all talking and listening and thinking and arguing.  We were all part of the conversation.

I spent a lot of my time in seminary with other Presbyterians, only a lot of them weren’t black-and-white at all.  And I spent a lot of time with people whose roots were in many other denominations and expressions of Christian faith.  And they weren’t very black-and-white, either. The best conversations I had in seminary were with other students whose roots were dangling in space just like mine.  We were all in transition.

We were all on our way out to the garden.

To be concluded tomorrow…

Conversation: Are You an Ender or a Starter? Part 2

If you missed it yesterday, read Part 1 first.

Running in place vs. running a race

But if we end the conversation, then what have we gained? We might stay safe; we might feel righteous and satisfied at having the last word.  But what have we really gained?

Being a conversation-ender is like running in place.  We might be the fastest, fittest, most well-trained athlete in the world, but if we only run in place, we never get anywhere.  It’s much safer to run in place than to enter a race. But is that safety really worth more than the risk it takes to enter the race and be willing to find out we’re actually not as fast or fit as we thought?  What does running in place really gain us?

Ending the conversation

Rachel Held Evans spoke recently at a Mission Planting conference about her upcoming book A Year of Biblical Womanhood where she said, “I believe the Bible is meant to be a conversation-starter, not a conversation-ender.”

Growing up in the conservative South as a black-and-white Presbyterian, I prided myself on being able to end conversations with the perfect Bible verse.  You can’t argue with scripture, right? I carried my Bible with me everywhere because I wanted to be prepared to give an account for the hope that I had.  Cursing? Sex? Watching TV? I had a Bible verse for everything, and I felt safe and secure in the knowledge that I was living the right life.

But then I entered high school and began to be friends with people who didn’t live the right life at all.  In fact, they didn’t even care about what the Bible said!  I didn’t know how to have conversations with people who didn’t honor the word of God as perfect and authoritative.  For the first time, I wasn’t ending the conversation.  They were.

Listening before speaking

As soon as they saw the Bible I faithfully carried with me everywhere, the conversation was over before it ever began.  So I put my Bible away for a while and began to listen.

I listened to my high school friends. I read their stories and poetry. I played their games.  I entered their lives and watched how they engaged with people. I took note of what was important to them. I listened not only to their words but to their lives.

In college I kept listening, mostly because every time I opened my mouth I was slapped down and criticized as that-intolerant-conservative-Christian.   I began to understand how I had wounded others with my Bible-verse sword, how I had cut out their tongues with it and counted myself righteous for doing so.  I had wounded others growing up as I was now being wounded by my professors and fellow students.  I listened, and I learned how it felt to be uninvited to the conversation.

Then I went to seminary.

To be continued tomorrow…

Conversation: Are You an Ender or a Starter? Part 1

I used to be a conversation-ender.

Growing up in the South, I was immersed in a conservative environment, both religiously and politically.  I grew up Presbyterian, in a long bloodline of Presbyterians past, which is a denomination that puts great emphasis on knowledge and scripture.  I grew up with sword drills, and I was a quicker draw than most. I knew all the Bible stories and could answer all the Sunday school questions.

I wouldn’t trade that upbringing.  I have deep respect for my Presbyterian roots.  They are strong and deep.  I still maintain most of my early Presbyterian theology and appreciate my early exposure to a love of the word of God.

What I would trade, however, is how I used that word of God.  I was quick to draw my sword and fight, and I fought to draw blood. I fought to win.

Black-and-white theology

The appeal of a black-and-white theology is that there is a straight answer for everything.  There are neat categories.  There is order, and we Presbys love us some order.  There is comfort in knowing what is right and what is wrong, who is in and who is out, where the line in the sand is and which side we’re on.

The problem with black-and-white theology is that it is fear-based.  Fear of complication, wrong answers, messy categories, disorder. Fear of not knowing, not being sure, or maybe just not being right.  Fear of being disagreed with. Fear that there could be more than one valid answer.  Fear of losing that comfort and security.

The good and bad of boundaries

Having clear boundaries makes us feel safe.  That’s a natural human trait.  We’re designed to want and need boundaries.  Boundaries are good and necessary.

But whose boundaries?

If boundaries are good and necessary, then the more boundaries we have, the better off we will be, right?  We will be safer and more comfortable.  We will be more sure. More right. So we create more and more boundaries for ourselves, encroaching on the space within.  Little by little, we sacrifice our safe space until we find ourselves…in prison!

Enter Jesus.  Enter truth.  Enter freedom.  Enter fullness of life.  Enter fulfillment of the law.  Enter space.

The best boundaries we can live by are God’s boundaries, not ours.  But how do we know what God’s boundaries are?  Who’s to say who’s right and who’s wrong, who’s in and who’s out, who’s free and who’s in prison, whose space is God’s space?

Better to be safe than sorry, right?

Better slap down those who threaten the safety of our comfortable boundaries, right?

Better end the conversation now than risk stepping out into all that space, right?

Right?!

To be continued in tomorrow’s post…

Saturday Sex-versations

My computer crashed this week, and I lost most of the interesting and well-written articles I had pulled for all you lovely readers this week.  I included below the ones I could recover, but I’m afraid the list is a little short this week.  To compensate, share your favorite conversation-starter article from this past week in the comment boxes and include the link so we can all benefit and stay informed together.

Stay informed about what the world and the Church are saying so we can discuss the issues, discern healthy, holistic body theology, and discover God’s truth in the midst of many opinions.

Here’s this week’s installment of current conversations on issues of holistic body theology.  (Links are organized roughly by date and similarity of content.)

A blocked quote indicates a highly recommended link.

Don’t be shy.  Share your thoughts in the comment section, or join the original conversations via the links provided.

Physicality: Body Image, Sexuality and Relationship Issues

1) The Fierceness of God In addition to expressing the nature of God’s protection over us, it also sheds light on the imago dei in women. Although men are traditionally construed as the “protectors,” I think we all know how fierce women can get with their children.

2) Are You There, World? It’s Me, Tina. Without Makeup. In a moment of pure insanity I thought, if my beautiful friend Claire can be honest about how many times she has weighed herself, I can be honest about what I look like without makeup.

3) Letter against gay marriage to be read in every Catholic church this Sunday The letter…restates the anti-gay-marriage campaign’s argument that “neither the Church nor the State has the power to change [the] fundamental understanding of marriage itself”.

4) Fit, not skinny I’ve decided to love my body no matter what the scale says.

5) Relationship Myth #2: If I Have to Tell My Partner My Needs… It is from this vulnerable place that we start to form the distorted thought, “If I have to share my needs, it doesn’t count because he/she should know me well enough to just know them.”

6) Rush Limbaugh and three evangelical blind spots Currently, evangelicals tend to force young adults, especially young women, into simplistic sexual categories. They are either “pure” or “impure,” “whole” or “damaged,” “virgins” or “sluts.” There does not seem to exist a vocabulary within evangelicalism with which to talk about men and women who are sexually active, but not promiscuous.

Media Literacy/Cultural Discernment

1) Loose All female sins can be reduced to same one: a refusal to allow men to define and control female sexuality.

2) My Take: New TV series ‘GCB’ portrays Christians as caricatures Still, “GCB” challenges every Christian – including me – to consider our own faith journey and if our talk really matches our walk.

3) What the Hunger Games Taught Me (and the Church Should Have) About Men In our culture, men are given license to satisfy their desires for pleasure by using women, just as women are given license to seek pleasure in pampering themselves. This message carries way beyond Christian teachers—it’s everywhere.

4) Gender Disparity in the Clergy: Breaking the Stained Glass Ceiling Let us capitalize on this national moment of frustration and revelation and commit to concrete action in promoting women as religious thought leaders in our faiths, culture and society.

Community: Equality and Other Issues

1) Foundations in Community–Part 1 The geese know that their best chance of survival is to travel in flocks, yet value the individual goose enough that they will not simply abandon them in crisis.  We could learn a lot from these geese.

2) Femsculine Christianity As we learn more about God, we can live out a Christianity that is both uncompromisingly feminine and genuinely masculine.

3) Brew Pubs, Putting Down Roots, and What the Incarnation Means for Local Living A local gospel must be important for a God who entered our physical space, Emmanuel, to dwell with us.

4) Does Suburbia Hurt Christianity? Community is spread out. It occurs irregularly at appointed places such as schools, churches and athletic facilities that are miles apart. It offers little in the way of unifying cultural and civic institutions because there is no commitment to a place … because there is no “place.”

5) the underground railroad when we choose the path of leaving systems & structures that continue to keep us in bondage, we choose a lonelier, scarier road.

6) The Torah and Making Sacred Spaces Confronted repeatedly by frailty, isolation, mortality, and error, we find strength and solace in community and the achievement that community makes possible.

7) Down We Go: Practicing Equality Jesus broke down barriers of inequality. Now we need to play our part in it as well. Equality crosses more than just gender.

8) Taking Root: Creating The church recognized that because God’s attribute of creativity is so important and because people are made in His image, it is essential for humans to create. It’s a part of who we are.

9) The Myth of Religious Superiority [Y]et another group thinks Christianity is one way of salvation, a true way, but there are other ways too (pluralism).

10) Women: The Church’s Most Wasted Resource But for many women (particularly wives and mothers), leaving doesn’t mean walking away; more often it means showing up without being present. Women often do this because they want their husbands and children to grow spiritually.

Service: Social Justice Issues & Creation Care

1) What the “After-birth Abortion” and “Personhood” Debates Have in Common “Merely being human,” they claim, “is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life.”

2) Let’s Retire the Term “Slut” The term hurts women. Men use it to hurt women. Women use it to hurt women. We think it’s time to stop using it.

3) Sandra Fluke and Rush Limbaugh: Let’s Retire the Word “Slut” [M]ost people — women and men — who call women prostitutes, whores, or sluts don’t do so because they think that’s the truth. They do it to defame, demean, and shame. They do it to keep women quiet and to keep women cautious in speaking about their own sexuality….

4) ‘Dawn of a new hope’ for whom? Systemic violence and impunity plague women in Ivory Coast “Women have a lower status than men, even though the constitution recognizes women’s equal rights. Domestic violence is very accepted as a way of educating and controlling women. Sexual violence is then possible because we don’t see women as protected and supported by the general community.”

5) Compassion in the Everyday Do not fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others, especially those who have the spotlight; reach out to those around you, wherever you are, and you will start to see your impact.

6) The best and worst places to be a woman 1) Best place to be a woman: Iceland

Forward Friday: 4 Ways to Pray (Naked)

In keeping with tradition, we’re wrapping up this week’s theme on praying naked with four suggestions. Choose the one that best fits, and come back to share your experience.

1) Pray in the bathtub (centering prayer): As you remove each article of clothing, remove along with it some distracting thought.  Allow the water surrounding you to remind you of the movement of the Holy Spirit within you.  Don’t be discouraged by distracting thoughts, but allow your nakedness to remind you of your purpose, and continue to set distractions aside.  Once you are centered (this can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes, so don’t rush yourself), allow God to speak to you.  This might take the form of a recurring distracting thought, an old emotional wound, a nagging memory of an unreconciled relationship, a line of music or verse of scripture, or anything else. Whatever emerges, take it to God and experience God’s love, healing, forgiveness, acceptance, and renewal.

2) Pray in your room (intercessory prayer): As you undress, be aware of the vulnerability of your naked body.  Allow that vulnerability to guide your conversation with God.  As you become more comfortable with your nakedness–alone in your room–allow yourself to experience compassion for those whose vulnerability is taken advantage of.  If that is not a natural experience for you, read Stacey’s post as an example, and ask God to open your eyes not only to your own needs but also to the needs of others.

3) Pray semi-covered (inner healing prayer): For those of you who have experienced trauma and may be triggered by the vulnerability of your nakedness, try undressing and then covering yourself with a towel, robe, or blanket.  Allow the covering to be an intentional reminder of God’s protection over you.  Read Gen 2:25, slowly, aloud, once every five minutes for 30 minutes.  Between readings, sit quietly and allow God’s truth about your body to take root.  As any shameful memories arise, offer them to God.  Ask God to enter those memories with you and show you the truth about yourself.  If you’re feeling too vulnerable at any point, try putting some of your clothes back on, one article at a time.  Allow the act of getting dressed to be an intentional reminder of God’s protection over you.

4) Sleep naked (resting prayer aka letting-God-do-all-the-work): For those of you who find the whole conversation about praying naked to be uncomfortable or ridiculous (or if the above suggestions just aren’t for you), try simply sleeping naked tonight.  Again, as you undress, be mindful that you are uncovering yourself before God.  Ask God to enter your experience and show you something new.  (If you sleep with a partner, be sure to warn him or her that you are sleeping naked tonight as a spiritual exercise, not as an invitation to sexy time. This is your chance to experience your sexuality within yourself and with God.  Have sexy time tomorrow night.)

What Laywers, Parents, and Carpenters Have in Common

I had planned to write a post for today about ways to pray other than naked. (If you missed Stacey’s guest posts on praying naked this week, you can read them here and here along with my introduction.) But I got caught watching a video of Eugene Peterson’s recent talk “Practicing Sabbath” at Q with Dave Lyons, and I couldn’t get this excerpt out of my mind.

Nothing happens when you pray, you think. There’s nothing in prayer that gives you any satisfaction in terms of having accomplished anything. So learning to pray is learning to not do in the awareness that God is doing something and you don’t know what it is at that moment.

When people ask me how to pray, sometimes I’m tempted to tell them what I do that first hour in the morning [here he is referring to his daily devotional time of reading scripture and praying the Psalms], which I’ve done since I was 15. But I realized at one point, that’s not so. When I leave my study, close my Bible, that’s when I’m praying.

I pray all day. Prayer now is something that suffuses my life. Most of the time when I’m praying I don’t know I’m praying. Later on I realize I have been. But to get to think about prayer in a little more comprehensive way as the interior life that the Holy Spirit is breathing in us every time we take a breath suddenly changes prayer from being a practice like you practice the piano to being a practice like you practice being a lawyer or practice being a parent or practice being a carpenter. You’re doing it when you don’t know you’re doing it.

Don’t you love it when you’re around a really skilled craftsperson? They just do it beautifully and economically and you realize: that man is carving something, and he doesn’t even know he’s carving. He doesn’t think: “I’m carving. Isn’t this wonderful? I’m carving!”

My goal–and the witness of a lot of people I’ve read through the centuries–is not to pray in such a way that you’re conscious of praying but to live a life suffused by prayer so that your life becomes a prayer. But that’s not the kind of thing you can write a book about. It’s only a thing you can live and see other people live.

If “play” and “pray” don’t work together, both are diminished. That’s why both are necessary.  Otherwise, they become duties that you have to perform.

Whether you pray by getting naked, going for a hike, reading scripture, interceding for others, contemplating or meditating, or any of the many, many other ways to pray–let prayer suffuse your life so that you experience the inspiration [read: breath] of the Holy Spirit with every breath.

How do you pray? Share your experience in the comment box below.

Guest Post: Human Dignity–Part 2

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. If you missed it, read Part 1You can find more of her journey here.

And now, the conclusion…

So I just let it wash over me.  I sat for a good while letting his love soak in.  I cried.  I laughed.  It felt like my own heart was growing.  I was being flooded by his acceptance and reclamation of his daughter.  It was if I had let getting older with the new wrinkles and the cottage cheese cellulite separate me from God.  As if my body was unworthy of his love now.

No.  He not only reminded me of his love, he embraced me in who I am.  God loved this body on that day many years ago when I took my first breath.  He loves this body right now.  And he will go on loving my body long past my last breath on earth—whatever that will look like.  I am so precious to God.

As I sat and reveled in all of my blood pumping wonder, I thought about how I want others to treat my body—with respect and care.  This comes only from its being something precious to God.  This got me to thinking about others.  I thought about my three roommates and their beautiful bodies.  I considered them in their own mothers’ wombs and growing up as children.

Then I expanded that circle to others.  However, when I got to thinking about bodies all over the world I stopped dead in my tracks.  So many bodies are not respected.  Many are treated as possessions or used as commodities.  They are stripped naked, not of their own volition but that of a pimp or an owner who inspects their goods and throws them at willing buyers.  Their beauty and uniqueness are trampled on.  Their vulnerability is used as a weapon against them.

This is when my praying became more than exploration or asking God for eyes like his to see my body as he sees me.  This is when I heard God call me to action.  To fight.  To take action.  I might look into donating my time or money.  In my own personal life, my vocation and calling involve education and healing in the realm of sexuality.  To help others sees the value of their bodies.  Once they can know that deep in their souls, they can then begin to have empathy for the value of others’ bodies.  To help others see their deep need for intimacy and examine the choices they make in seeking to know and be known.  To understand how sex might be used as a quick route to closeness but a short one to nagging emptiness.

The more I see how my sexuality is a part of me—not a distant part or a shameful part—the healthier I feel.  My embodiedness and my femininity and my desire to be in deep relationships are all part of my sexuality.  And to deny any part of this murders aspects of my humanity.  And to recklessly embrace parts of this in disproportionate ways feeds a nasty monster in me.  We are moral beings who have choices to make.  Are we brave enough to admit that we actually make choices about our sexuality or shall we sweep things under the rug?

Christians contribute to sex trafficking in direct and indirect ways.  I know that if we have more discussions about our sexuality and make more choices to embrace our sexuality, we will actively be fighting against using sexuality as a weapon.

I will begin by fighting for my own body—to reclaim its goodness by the creator God.  And I will not stop until I fight for others’ bodies and their goodness.

Will you join the fight?

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.

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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