God's Word tells us that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit, that outward beauty is deceptive and fleeting while inward beauty is unfading and of great worth. It doesn't take long to look at today's media and see how the world is trying to convince us otherwise! Read uplifting and encouraging real life stories from Christian women about true beauty and health. Start seeing yourself as the women God created you to be!
I felt like an alien.
Af first it was just a nuisance when the mysterious itchy welts appeared on my back. The next day, they were on my arms and legs. That was a nuisance too.
But when they started to travel up my neck and appear on my face, I had the last straw.
I was embarrassed to be seen in public— with my red, splotchy, hivey face. I was constantly itchy. And just plain miserable.
This brand new episode of hives was the latest in a long chain of ailments that had eaten up a far-too-sizable-way-too-annoying chunk of my life in the past year.
In the winter, it was a strange sinus infection that plugged my ears (so bad that I felt like I was living underwater for a month). Through the spring and summer, it was a string of horrid UTI infections. Tack on another three or four colds, a misdiagnosed toothache (that eventually needed a pricey root canal), and a muscle strain (that kept me away from a playing on my soccer team this autumn), and I was seriously ready to give up on my body.
Or at least to give up on ever being healthy again.
“God!” I railed. “Do you have any idea how much time and money I’ve spent on medicine, on lost work hours, on appointments? And now this? Why are you letting this happen?!?!”
With that question hanging over everything, and my body covered in ugly red bumps, I still managed to pack my bags—and my antihistamines—to attend a weekend church moms’ retreat. I had pre-scheduled the time away (back in my blissful pre-hive days), and I wasn’t quite sick enough to cancel.
Turns out that a moms’ retreat is the best possible place for an invalid. Moms are the most compassionate people you’ll ever meet. And (when their kids aren’t around) they have loads of prayers, hugs, advice, and sympathy to freely dole out.
Like a wounded animal, I sniveled and shuffled around the entire weekend. Lapped up all the kindness. And even though I didn’t have energy for socializing, I managed to sit through worship, prayer, and teaching.
God met me at that retreat. He met poor, pathetic, hive-ridden me in the deep places of my soul—in places where I had been hurting, and in places where I had been angry.
He refreshed my mother’s heart. He refreshed my desire to love, to nurture, to be patient, and self-giving. He reminded me of His faithfulness. He birthed in me new hope. Worship and the Word were a healing balm.
The retreat morphed into a weekend of deep inner renewal.
But that was on the inside.
On the outside, the hives persisted. For weeks after, I tried to understand what was happening to my body. I desperately needed to make meaning.
And as I slowly processed everything, some pieces of the puzzle fell into place. I began to understand two things:
First: My lack of control. My reliance on God’s grace. Sometimes, only God knows the rhyme or reason for the sicknesses and storms that assail. Sometimes, only God can heal. We can still theorize, or do tests, or identify health triggers. But in the end, health is a gift from God. We each have a distinct genetic health predisposition. God gave us those genes. We can’t control them. In the end, we need to let go.
Second: Life is a stewardship. Our bodies are not our own. I realized that I had been taking my health for granted. I hadn’t always taken proper care of my body when I was younger. I tended to take shortcuts—and now they were catching up to me. There is, after all, a natural rhythm to life and to aging. As I enter middle age, it’s time to re-evaluate some of my lifestyle choices.
But here’s the thing. I can’t fret. I can’t fear. I can’t fuss.
Why? Because I fret, fear, and fuss over losing my health. And that’s when I forget who my God is.
My God is an upside-down God. He’s a God who triumphed by losing—by losing at the cross.
So I need to trust that my upside-down God will take care of my upside-down body—because I am His child. At the same time, I, too, need to care for my body. I need to give it what it needs, be patient and gentle with myself—because I am His child. In this way, God will be glorified in my body—in sickness or in health—because I am His child.
Flu season’s coming.
May God give us the grace to respond with wisdom, courage, faith, hope, and love. (And of course, seeking comfort amongst cooing, sympathetic friends can’t hurt!) But in the end, may we accept our physical limitations, still hope for healing, and do both with our eyes fixed on eternity.
Julia Cheung is a cultural analyst and journalist of relationships, always on the lookout for stories of beautiful misfits. She lives in Vancouver BC with the loveable motley crew of her pastor husband and two preteen children. She is a bundle of antitheses, a lover of truth, a teller of tales, a too often emotional egoist and a fervently curious anti-narcissist. You can find her online at wifeinredemption.com.