by Collette Broady Grund
We’ve seen a lot of conversation on this blog and Facebook about bodies, how we view them, what we say about them and what Jesus has to do with it. It’s been intense, painful for some, invigorating for others. It’s been a good reminder to me that words matter, especially for people of faith, and how we need to be careful as we choose them. My two teenage stepdaughters and I offer the following reflection about the experience of inhabiting woman-bodies in a culture that shames us and how God meets us in that mess.
This blog is a shortened version of an article that can be found here.
My own body
I was a late bloomer, flat-chested and without curves into my college years. When my girlfriends in junior high began to talk about hating themselves, it surprised me. How could a person hate their own self?
I was lucky to have parents who were intentional about connecting my self-esteem to my identity as a child of God. They reminded me that they loved me, and God loved me, without regard for my looks, my behavior or my abilities. They told me in words and by example that I was beloved exactly as I was, and I believed them.[bctt tweet=”They told me in words and by example that I was beloved exactly as I was, and I believed them.”]
For the most part.
A family of womanly bodies
In my new marriage, I am lucky to have two stepdaughters who are in that perilous and rich space between girl and woman. They are 12 and 15 and as different as can be. Cameron, the oldest, is tall and thin and an amazing athlete. She’s in 9th grade, but she’s been swimming with the high school team for two years. And though her body is what others might aspire to have, she has ambivalent feelings about it.
Kendall is 12, and while she is tall like Cameron, she’s built differently. “I’ve never been tiny” is how she describes herself. And that’s not easy. She’s usually the tallest person in her class, male or female, and stronger than most of them too.
While she admits wrestling with that when she was younger, she doesn’t let it bother her now. “I’m me, and they’re them. And if they say they’re ugly or fat or whatever, I just say ‘no, you’re not, you’re beautiful the way you are.’”
[bctt tweet=”“I just say ‘no, you’re not, you’re beautiful the way you are.’””]
The God’s-eye view
Both girls are clear that God loves everyone just as she or he is. “Beauty in God’s eyes isn’t about what’s on the outside,” Cameron said, “it’s what’s in your heart.”
Kendall agrees. “God is God, everyone’s best friend. God doesn’t care what you look like, God cares about your personality.”
The work of loving bodies, both our own and others, is the work of God: feeding, healing, protecting and nurturing. What more important work could we be doing?
Rev. Collette Broady Grund lives in Mankato, Minnesota, with her charming husband, two smart and strong teenage girls, and two rascally 6-year-old boys. She serves Bethlehem Lutheran Church where she helps children discover the depth of God’s love for them. Read the full article.
Photo of Cameron and Kendall courtesy of Collette Broady Grund