“I have spent much of my life in love with my personality but wishing I looked like someone else. I often felt that no matter how smart, how funny, how talented, how free-spirited I was, it all paled in comparison to what I looked like.
Instead of a temple of the Holy Spirit, my body seemed to me earthbound and burdensome. I so longed to look like someone else that my relationship became one of a passive-aggressive acceptance coupled with bouts of extreme asceticism, rife with constant criticism, and behaviors that were incredibly self-destructive.
Even after I became a believer, my relationship with my body was so full of trauma and negative perceptions and, even worse, this had become so normative to me that I had no idea that my relationship with my body was a dangerous one.
Then one marvelous day, I was reading Scripture, this passage in 1 Samuel actually, and realized I hated my body. And my hate for my body was affecting the state of my heart. In my heart was a lot of self-loathing, envy, dishonesty, bitterness, and unforgiveness.
The Lord indeed saw my heart and what was there wasn’t as pretty as I thought. I had to learn, all over again, that humankind is made in the image of God, beautifully and wonderfully made, crafted by our Creator in the womb, and that as a believer my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.
And in the end of it all, it is this body that will be gloriously resurrected. The Lord’s work in my heart drastically shifted the way I think about my body.
My body is mine.
But it is also the Lord’s.
And I should love it as such.”
“The darkest time of night is immediately before dawn. Light is incredibly generous, but also gentle. When you attend to the way dawn comes, you learn how the light can coax the dark.”
– John O’Donahue, Anam Cara
Some of the hardest hit communities in Italy are showing us how music is the “light [that] can coax the dark” that COVID-19 is spreading across the world.
The more researchers study how music affects our physical bodies, the more we are beginning to understand how listening to music heals. Music therapy has even been known to “decrease pain perception, reduce the amount of pain medication needed, help relieve depression, and give people a sense of better control over their pain,” according to Beverly Merz, executive editor of Harvard Women’s Health Watch.
I do not want the gloom of COVID-19 to overtake my home, so I’m asking myself, What can I do to prepare? Besides grocery store runs and incessant hand washing, is there something more I can do to help my family as we transition to a quarantine-like environment? To be honest, I’m most concerned about the state of our minds as we practice “social distancing.”
At this point, the darkest place on the coronavirus map is Italy. She is the worst affected country, with at least 17,660 cases and 1,266 deaths as of Friday. So, this morning I find myself reading about her. How is Italy coping with closings and lockdown? What are the Italians doing to comfort one another when they cannot leave their homes? What can Americans learn from the Italians as we seek to be emotionally healthy in the first pandemic our country has experienced in over a century?
It appears that some Italians have turned to music as a way to comfort one another and seek healing. Yesterday, The Jerusalem Post reported social media showing “people on their balconies or leaning from windows and singing the national anthem or popular songs.” On the streets of northern Italy this week, many gathered to sing in their communities. Music has become a gentle light that just might have the power to coax the darkness.
In his book, Nietzche and Music, George Leibert puzzles through Nietzsche’s words, “Without music life would be an error.” He explores how the philosopher fluctuated between thinking two very different things about the purpose of music. “Music is a way of making life bearable – a beautiful refuge in a world otherwise ugly and hostile to human happiness. Or it is, in itself, a powerful affirmation of life, in all its joys and sorrows,” affirms journalist Carson Holloway.
Today, we need both, and that’s where music steps in. Music is a beautiful refuge that comforts. And music affirms us, that we will be okay.
An article at melodyful.com, “How Does Music Affect the Brain?” touches on how helpful music can be as we sift through living more in isolation these next few weeks. “Problems like excessive worry, anxiety, or depression create a chaotic situation in the brain; it hampers its working power, reasoning ability, and execution of conventional tasks becomes difficult. It happens because of reduced levels of serotonin. Fifty million brain cells are affected by the levels of serotonin. Music effects a steep rise in the levels of serotonin, which has positive influences on brain cells controlling mood.”
As we consider the many aspects of COVID-19 we do not understand, we firmly hold onto what we do understand. We look across the ocean and ask what we can learn from those who are seeking comfort from one another as they suffer. As they hurt. As they seek hope.
How can we bring a gentle light to our own dark situation?
From the Italians, we can learn how music is helping people unify and offer comfort to one another. One way to bring light into this difficult time is to invite more music inside our homes.
As for my family, it looks like we are going to be home together for a very long time. Amidst the disagreements that are certain to crop up, we’re going to turn up the music. Sing loud. Host a few dance parties to use up our physical energy. Take some time get a few extra minutes of piano practicing in. Maybe make up our own lyrics to the music that’s already playing in our heads.
And if we get a little silly being together for too long (because who knows how long it will be?), you might find us leaning outside our windows, singing toward the streets, “Oh, say can you see, by the dawn’s early light?”
If it gets to that, feel free to open up your windows and join us.
“Hello, my name is Kassidy Warnol, and as a college cheerleader body image has never been easy for me. God is teaching me that, through His truth, I am so much more than the negative thoughts I tell myself.
I have health complications that make losing weight basically impossible, but I am so thankful for that. Because through this hard season I am learning to focus on how I feel and focus on being still with God, not basing my feelings on how I look.
I needed this hard season to slow down and see that God created me for a purpose and my body is a gift from him to fulfill that purpose. I constantly remind myself that people will remember someone based on their heart and impact, not on how one looks.
So everyday I strive to have a heart that follows Jesus, and I pray for my life to be following God’s purpose for me.
Our bodies are a gift to help fulfill our purpose here on earth, and those negative thoughts are only going to get in the way.
Filling your day with His Word and His Truth are going to fill your mind with positive thoughts about yourself. And those truthful, positive thoughts help flush out the negative ones.”
Spending most of last week outside reminds me Spring is here! Birds are chirping happy songs. Trees are blooming green and purple and pink buds, tiny and full of hope.
This week, I’m hunkering down to study as I prepare for a few speaking engagements in March and April. Which means reading and writing and learning as much as I can so I can engage our @body_truth audience in a meaningful way. Which is where you come in.
Will you please take a minute to fill out our survey if you’re a student — in middle school, high school, or college? Your input is invaluable! I’m hoping to get this survey into the hands of 200 girls by the end of the week, so I’d love for you to pass it on to a friend.
We’re hosting a $25 Amazon gift card giveaway, and you become eligible by completing the survey and inviting a friend to do the same.
Thank you for helping me! I’m thankful you are willing to share your insights. Click the link or scan the QR Code to get started!
“As someone who is in recovery from eating disorders and all sorts of bad habits, I’ve put my body through a lot. I spent most of my teen years hating the body I was living in.
Growing up in church, I had heard how my body was a temple and that I had been made in the image of God. But I didn’t feel like I was.
I couldn’t understand what I was here for or why this body mattered.
Ten years ago, I hated every bit of me and my body.
Through my recovery journey I’ve slowly learned that my body is not my enemy. I’ve learned to be thankful for the ways it has sustained me. I’ve learned (and am still learning) to listen to my body and take care of my body in ways I didn’t do for a very long time.
Because at the end of the day, this is the body I’ve been given. There is no plan B this side of heaven.
In order for me to live in my glorious, God-given space means, I have to be ok with the body I am in. God LOVES what he made when he made me and when he made you.”
I don’t know what to do today.
Minutes ago, a Manhattan jury delivered a guilty verdict in The People vs. Harvey Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein was found guilty of criminal sexual act in the first degree and rape in the third degree. Six women testified that he sexually assaulted them. However, he was found not guilty of the most serious crime, predatory sexual assault, of which there were two counts.
The jury deliberated for over a week, and some of the following questions were up for discussion. Whether or not the women who came forward consented to sex. Whether or not the women who came forward “earnestly resisted” during Weinstein’s attempted assaults. Whether or not the women who came forward reported Weinstein’s sexual abuse in a timely manner.
My heart races and my fingers tremble on the keyboard because I write about body image for young women. At 6:15 AM this morning, I sent out my daily post on IG and posited the question, “What if the chief purpose of your God-gifted body is to welcome God’s people into His life-changing presence?”
I’m working from the unifying and bold encouragement that Paul pens as he draws near the end of his letter to the Romans. In Romans 15:7, Paul says, “Therefore, welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” Here, Paul communicates two beautiful truths.
First, Paul portrays Jesus as the welcoming Christ. The one who is all and loves all and died for all of our sins.
Second, Paul provides the Romans with a compelling reason to accept, to receive, and to serve those in their midst. Paul admonishes Roman believers to welcome others in an effort to glorify God.
But my stomach is churning because I’m reading about The People vs. Harry Weinstein, and I’m reflecting on my message.
Reconciling my own words is a challenge as I see what a single individual can get away with when he schemes like satan — the father of lies. For decades, Mr. Weinstein has been accused of lying, cheating, manipulating, and assaulting. Of raping numerous women.
And what is the story of most of these women? They welcomed him. He invited himself to their rooms, and they said, Sure. Come in. Of course we can have a meeting about my acting career. I’d love your feedback on that role that I auditioned for today. Any help you can give, I welcome it.
This role of welcoming, so many of us want to do it well. Even when we hear that someone has a negative rap sheet or a track record that looks dicey, many of us want to believe that people who say they want our good really want our good.
And as believers, we welcome hope, second chances, and new life.
As God’s precious sons and daughters, we are called to open up our doors and clear our table for two more seats at the dinner table. As his children, we are the hands and feet that feed those who are poor in body and in spirit.
But in the same breath that we choose to welcome and generously love those around us, we acknowledge a sad truth. Satan lurks. He longs to steal, kill, and destroy.
How we welcome like Jesus and what steps we take to attempt to protect ourselves from sexual assault is not an easy conversation to have in our homes. But the verdict this morning took me back to Bill Cosby and Larry Nassar, and I can’t help but think that, although the conversations may be difficult, they are necessary and worth having.
So, in the midst of not knowing what to do today, I think I’ll sit down with my kids tonight and ask them to help me answer the questions I have.
What does welcoming others look like to you? How do you know when to step back from someone when you’ve already welcomed them into your friend group, your sports team, your home? Will you please come to me if you have questions about anyone we have welcomed into our community?
Because as much as I want to welcome others who we don’t know well, my first priority is to welcome the truth from the people I’m actively discipling, whom God has entrusted to my care.