This post feels really vulnerable.
Because of my pregnancy and the uncomfortable changes that happen to a woman's body during this time (uncomfortable because I'm not used to my body feeling this way and being this large in certain areas), I've been experiencing a lot more body image issues than normal.
Don't get me wrong. I think my body is a beautiful thing, and it's amazing that my body is creating a human right now. It's amazing how capable my body is of doing what it is doing and how every change that is happening is necessary for the growth of my baby. But it's still hard, at least with what I've been fed through media, to accept some of the changes happening. Plus, I'm just a person that has a hard time dealing with change sometimes. My body has been a certain way for so long, and now that it's changing constantly, it's a little hard to get used to.
Anyway, back to the point. Body-image issues. We all have them. They didn't just start for me because of my pregnancy. I've had body image issues since I was maybe 10-12. These issues have caused me to stress-diet and develop disordered eating habits at times. I have been very unhealthy because of my desire to look a certain way.
Discovering this addiction fed many of my issues, at least until I was able to work through many of the emotional consequences of the addiction. I know I'm not alone in that, and I also know that many women who are dear to me have a harder time battling their body-image demons than I do.
So, I want to share something I discovered today while studying my scriptures.
In Ether chapter 3, the brother of Jared is preparing his "vessels" for the trip across the sea. He is worried about there being no light on their travels and asks God what they should do for light. Simply put, God asks him what he thinks he should do, so the brother of Jared moltens some stones and asks God to touch them so they will shine in the darkness and provide light.
The Lord put forth His hand to touch the stones with his finger, and the brother of Jared SAW HIS FINGER. It scared him because he had never known that God has a body of flesh and blood as we do. So then they had this conversation about God's body, and God revealed His full self to this man.
These verses really hit me (14-16, emphasis added):
"Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters.
"And never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou has. Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were created in the beginning after mine own image.
"Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh."
This got me thinking. We are so much more than just our bodies. Our body houses our spirit, and I personally think the spirit is more important to focus on. However, our bodies are very important because they house what is most precious: our spirits. [So maybe that makes the body and spirit equally important.] Our bodies need to be taken care of and cherished, not beaten down and sworn at because they don't look the way we wish they did or because they don't function in ways we think they should.
Our bodies have been created to be like God's body. We don't know what God looks like, but what if He looked a little bit "less than"? What if His body doesn't look like we imagine is the "perfect body"? The body of His spirit is perfect. And so are ours.
When we focus on our physical flaws (or things we perceive to be flaws), it brings us down. It takes away focus from our hearts and spirits and even causes damage to our spirits. That's what Satan wants. Satan wants us to be distracted from the most important things. He wants us to focus on destroying ourselves because HE CAN'T HAVE A BODY. So, he doesn't want us to be happy in ours.
We need to take care of our bodies, both physically and emotionally, so our spirits can be more receptive to the beauty and joy this life has to offer. We have been created after God's image, and we have divine responsibilities to perform in this life. Those responsibilities can best be fulfilled when we take care of our bodies and our spirits.
That means we need to treat ourselves with respect. Just like our spirits are individual and unique, so are our bodies. It pains me to see my friends tearing themselves down because of their perceptions of their bodies. I think every body is beautiful. I really do. I find that focusing on people's spirits is more important than focusing on their bodies because their spirit is who they really are. I know God feels the same way. He sees us as we really are, and what we have going on inside our bodies is the most important.
Our bodies are a gift to house our spirits, and I'm sure it pains Him to see me beating myself up because of my stretch marks or extra fluff and sagginess. I'm sure it pains Him to see me beating myself up for not maintaining a specific weight or level of skinniness for society's approval. He knows who I am inside, and He knows my potential. When I beat myself up for the perceived flaws of my body, it causes emotional damage. That emotional damage makes me halt a bit in life, thus slowing me down on the path to my potential.
Recognizing that my body is a house of my spirit helps me feel more at peace. I need to keep myself healthy and strong so my spirit can perform necessary works in this life. My body is beautiful because I am beautiful. I am a daughter of God, and I know when I can shine the light in the darkness, I feel beautiful. But I can't shine that light when I am constantly beating myself up.
This doesn't mean I will be able to just stop fretting about the changes in my body. But I will certainly try harder. I know after this baby comes, my body will not be the same as it has been in the past. But it will be even more beautiful because I have done another divine work with my body, and that makes it special. We all do divine works with our bodies. Our bodies give us so much potential. So, as I approach the future, I will try to find ways my body is divine rather than not meeting the social standards.