The first hint that I was mistaken came when I caught myself saying, “You pulled an all-nighter? I can’t even imagine!” Then came the day that I ran a hand over my skin and discovered that it had grown kinda rough . . . and a little freckled. Soon after was the afternoon of shopping that left me wondering why every jean manufacturer in the world was suddenly making my size smaller. At last, my understanding was complete the other day when, upon close inspection, I discovered the tiny creases that suggest the exact placement of future cleavage wrinkles.
As it turns out, the body does not change in sporadic chunks. The body is a growing, shifting, aging animal, constantly moving forward, constantly in transition. It seems I am getting a sneak preview of an older version of myself, and—believe me—I never requested one. But it’s probably better this way. An abrupt shift from mid-twenties Abi to early-eighties Abi would most likely traumatize me. As it is, I have an opportunity to learn my body. Ten years ago, my body obeyed my every command. Pretzel and chocolate milk lunches, 4 a.m. study sessions, caffeine binges . . . I called the shots, and my body quietly obeyed, absorbing the blows of my youth in silent acceptance.
Now that my body is starting to raise its opinionated little voice, I find myself in awe of the mechanism that it is. My whole life I’ve been told that my body is a temple (which I thought meant I was supposed to keep it away from boys), but for the first time I feel real reverence for the structure that stores my soul. Because I am forced to take responsibility for my body, I find myself more respectful of what’s inside it. It’s one thing to have a temple around just because you should have a temple around. It’s quite another to take an active role in protecting and preserving the place where you meet with your higher power.
That’s not to say my temple is safe from wear and tear. Heaven knows I’m not the best at physical maintenance, and—though it may not be in the immediate future—the paint is bound to fade and the stained glass will crack. But am discovering that respect for my body goes hand-in-hand with respect for the God who designed it.
I just wish I could get Him to reconsider those cleavage wrinkles.
Remind me that You live here,
that You designed this body
as a place for us to meet,
an instrument to serve You,
a vessel through which I explore
Your diverse creation.
Teach me to revere it as You do,
to protect and honor it,
to forgive it when necessary.
Like me, it is changing,
and like me,
it is Yours.