Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I've been thinking a lot about a lot of things lately.  profound statement there, huh?  If you know me well you know this is totally normal.  One of the many things that I've been thinking about has to do with women and their bodies.  Their sexual and physical identities, how they express them and how they honor them. 

I'm really shitty at this.  Probably not new information to any of you.  You don't stay with a man like Jonathan for a decade if you're great at honoring your body, or any other woman's either for that matter.  I've been trying to lose weight for, forever.  This is slightly ridiculous since up until 4 years ago I never struggled with my weight.   Oh I thought I did but I wouldn't have known what overweight and my body had looked like back then if it had slapped me in the face. 

I thought I was fat in high school so much so that for several months I had a steady diet of one apple a day.  That's it, one apple.  I can't remember how that all ended but eventually I got hungry again.  I learned through that time that you really can teach your body to completely ignore the signal of hunger.  I literally after a month no longer felt hunger at all.  That is dangerous information for any person with body image issues to have.  If you struggle in this area please seek counseling and tell someone who will take you seriously.

Thankfully, or not so much, I developed other issues in other areas with my body about that same time so I ended up staying far away from that slippery slope.  I also remember two of my girlfriends in school being hospitalized for anorexia nervosa.  One of them literally missed a family member's graduation.  This was several months after I had started eating normally again.  My parents never really noticed that I wasn't eating in the first place and I remember my mother saying that this girl's parents must have been so angry with her.  I remember being really thankful that she didn't die.  I remember that only one of our friends was allowed to call her for some ridiculously short amount of time each day while she was hospitalized.  

And I remember wondering how the hell I didn't know?  If she was that thin, starving herself so completely that her body was shutting down it's organs, how do you not know that someone is killing themselves?  

That is just one way that we kill our bodies by dishonoring them.  We kill them with our thoughts and what we say to ourselves and about ourselves on a daily basis.  And you can kill them by totally dishonoring them sexually.  I'm reading a book right now called See Me Naked.  (Nothing like Fifty Shades of Gray.)   Great book, I recommend it and it talks about this issue specifically in a way that is respectful, honest and important. This is a new topic for me to explore in regards to me and to what the church has said to me about it.  I'm great at theorizing and trying to help discuss topics that affect other people not so much great at realizing how those same things affect me.  The church's position on sex has been a hot topic for the church for more than a generation.  

Any one remember Dawson McAllister?  

Oh please let me forget those radio broadcasts. 

I think what I'm learning is that unfortunately by holding tightly to what I believed to be God's standards I completely ignored my body's voice.  Doesn't that sound weird?  My body has a voice.  But yes it does.  And holding to what I thought was God's standard for me helped for its voice to be silenced.  It was shouting at me for years that something was wrong.  If you want to discuss what that shouting looks like that will need to be a private conversation.  I silenced it willingly.  I didn't know that this was wrong.  I thought I was doing exactly what God wanted me to do.  So I ignored it and I stuffed any emotions that went along with that voice to the bottom of a very deep well.  Maybe the reasons I did this don't matter but you should know that the voice of the church ringing loudly in my ears created a dissonance between my body and my belief system.  And a classic Shannon fault, always honor belief above self.  That can be good if your beliefs are right and true and aligned with God, our heart can steer us wrong, but if your beliefs don't line up with God's truth then that is a dangerous hierarchy.  

I was afraid to let my husband touch me.  I thought this fear was evil.  I thought that the fact that I felt this way meant something was wrong with me.  I was clearly not a Godly wife.  A Proverbs 31 woman, ha, far from it.  When he would come near me I would shudder and tense.  I was scared.  There was good reason for me to be afraid and when I told people that I was they would scoff.  Scoff at me, at my fear of my husband.  The church shrugged off my fear and told me to call my OB/GYN, told me I need counseling, told me I needed to submit. I did all those things.  And I ignored myself.  I ignored my heart.  I ignored all the alarms going off internally.  I believed the person I had pledged my life to and I trusted him when he said something was wrong with me.  And that he was upholding God's standards and loving me as he should.

As I try to find myself again through this process I am committed to finding God's truth in this.  I do believe God holds to standards sexually and physically that are his best for all of us.  I do believe that he has standards for how we should treat our bodies in all areas: what we eat, whether we fast or not, how we value sleep and exercise.  I have been learning the art of fasting over the last year.  Partly why I'm forcing myself to learn that discipline is because I believe it gives me greater clarity in my relationship with God and more awareness of myself.  I can hear both of us better.  Eating whatever the hell I want to eat whenever I want to eat it takes me toward living in the moment and less mindful living.  

I'm not sure how I heal from all the sexual wounds I have suffered now that I am a single Christian woman.  I think God can knit together and heal my heart.  I think counseling and reading great books will help.  I think really actually pouring into God's Word and thinking critically about the message our church teaches about sex will also help.  But I wonder for a woman like me if I were to love again how would I still be broken?  How does one heal thyself?  Perhaps this week's fast will help me walk toward that answer.  I hope so.  

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