My Vogue came in the mail on Tuesday. It is a grandiose salute to all things style, and the fact that it’s the 125th Anniversary Collector’s Edition makes it special — heavy and thick, full of photos imbued with colors and patterns that capture the reader’s attention with every turn of the page. I look at some of these models and think they are alluring, but mostly skinny. Like scary skinny.
As the “Thou shalt not judge” voice confronts my thoughts, I realize why I battle with the images in my fashion magazine. It is impossible to separate ourselves from our bodies?
As much as one woman believes her picture perfect body signifies her value, another finds her body to be her nemesis, crushing her active spirit as aging skin and failing organs speak against her will to live.
We are blessed and simultaneously doomed to be mere flesh — limited human beings. Since the fall, both our vices and our virtues have been enfleshed. No matter how hard we fight to see beyond the Man in the Mirror, we see what we see. And we pray that God allows us to see a glimpse of how He created us — first, the physical reality, the reflection that recognizes herself in the glass, and, second, the possibilities, gifts, dreams, and fears that cradle the heart, the soul-stirrings that can’t be visibly seen by most of the world.
In last week’s post, I closed my letter with a statement, which some concluded, was far-reaching — “Our bodies are sacred and precious and meant to be part of our sanctification.”
Throughout the last week, my thoughts have repeatedly returned to this statement. As I’ve readied myself for the return to school, I’ve heard groans from boys as I’ve asked them to try on school khakis. My request for tucked in shirts has received backlash and defiance. During the moments of pained try-ons of tennis shoes and belts, I have prayed for patience for myself and on their behalf. Certainly, in the midst of all of these bodies slugging their weight around as they attempt to clothe themselves for the days to come, there is sanctification happening in my life, and hopefully theirs…..
As we experience sanctification, we work out our salvation, and we must acknowledge our bodies are a great and beautiful and sometimes very difficult part of our walking closer with the Savior. We cannot separate the skin that we live in from the daily choices we make to hurt or bless others with our hands and feet and voices. It is impossible to separate ourselves from our bodies. Learning to live within the limitations that our bodies afford requires piercing humility, and humility, all by itself, is enough to keep this girl occupied.
As I scroll through numerous posts showing kids on their way back to school, early morning vibrant faces beam at the camera. Some children are brave enough to show their hesitation in half-smiles. My favorites are the kindergartners, often slightly slumped forward with their child-size backpacks, nervous and excited all in the same click.
These photos make me go back in time, and I remember a few things — the back to school shopping for new pencils, a few wardrobe updates, and a new backpack every few-ish years. Also, I remember wondering if I was going to do it right. The friends, the grades, sports. I aimed to do it all so right.
These photos challenge me to pray for this generation of kids as they dare to look for what is beyond the camera’s grasp. Specifically, I ask my readers to pray for their hearts, as they reenter this season of school — all grades, all ages. They will, in their own way, be trying to understand, What is right thinking about the body I live in?
And we know, because we are not fully sanctified, that we are still answering this same question. But we do dare to claim this: Body truth begins with soul truth, which is only God-truth.