“Beloved one, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you physically, just as your soul is getting along well.” (III John 2)
For the past seven weeks, my body and I have been in a fight! The “conversation” has been going something like this:
BODY: “Hey! Can you help me?! I’m not okay.”
ME: “Pipe down! You are messing things up! I have a lot going on! You need to get your act together!”
BODY: “HHHEEELLLPP! I’m not doing very well. Can you please take care of me!?”
ME: “I am not happy about this! You are supposed to help me live my very important life! You’re just being a loud-mouthed, trouble-maker! I have people to see, places to go, things to do. You are not being very nice at all!”
The battle goes on and on! UNTIL…
When I decided to wave my white surrender flag. Call a truce.
I am normally a very healthy, rarely-sick human being. (Confession: I’m a little proud of that fact.) I’m a minimalist when it comes to taking care of myself.
Most mornings go something like this: hair in a ponytail, minimal eye makeup on, teeth brushed (sometimes), and super simple pull-on clothes and slip-on shoes. Top that off with nothing physical “going wrong” and I am able to get out of the house in about seven minutes flat from the time I wake up. I don’t even know if I look in the mirror again until I am brushing my teeth at night before bed (I do that for the most part unless I fall asleep watching a movie with Allen – I cannot go horizontal on our couch after 8:00 pm or I never make it past the first 15 minutes).
I get amazed at those of you who spend lots of time plucking your eyebrows, carefully applying makeup, diligently flossing, shining your shoes and choosing just the perfect outfit. (Confession: I secretly wish to be you and often wonder why I don’t take care of myself better.) It’s been a lifetime battle to do any of those things, one I have asked God about quite a bit (I’ve never plucked my eyebrows)! Sometimes, I wonder if it’s because I’m a third-culture kid or if it’s just me. Probably a little bit of both.
I guess God heard my plea and decided the age of 53 was a good time for me to practice what I preach. “TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF (and your stuff)!!” is one of my big mom mantras! I’ve shouted it from the top of the stairs, the front of the car, the texts on my phone and here on this blog! I know in my head it’s the right thing to do. But living this out day-to-day-to-day-to-day is another.
Having a body is tons of work. I have to get up, go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, floss, take a shower, primp, eat, take vitamins, exercise, drink, sleep and then do it all over again. The amount of energy and time my body needs to keep on ticking borders on ridiculous (at least according to this underachiever). It’s a lot of my day. Add in some (ahem) parts screaming at me for lack of care and my day feels consumed.
I am not lost on the irony in all of this. My Word of the Year is “shalom,” which means true human flourishing (BODY INCLUDED)! I spend lots of my time and energy on other flourishing (mental, emotional, spiritual), but my body gets neglected. Not a good “look”(pun intended) on this Dolly Mama.
The “conversation” (I mean fight) continues even after I decide to wave the white flag:
ME: What am I supposed to do when you take so much time just to look presentable, much less not as old as you are? And now you are really making a fuss!
BODY (Shouting back!): Hey! I’m genuinely important. I house the “real you.” When I’m not working right, the “real you” suffers (as you’ve now noticed).
ME: But… But… my time could be spent better doing something of more value like making my dreams a reality, writing this blog (for all of my amazing and wonderful and lovely readers), spending time with my family and working towards my goals!
BODY (more gently): You have friends who are really struggling right now with their own version of me. You’ve even had a taste of this these past seven weeks. It’s really really hard! So, my sweet caregiver, would you mind sending me a little love?
(Somehow, in the middle of this, GOD pipes into the “conversation.”)
GOD: Esther, my Esther, give a little listen to Me just for a moment. I love bodies. I love yours. They are so very important to me! I came in one after all.
ME: Okay. Okay. You’ve got my attention (at least for a minute).
GOD: I used My body to communicate My love for you in the most tangible way. I wanted to know what it was like to be you, right down to your gall bladder and your toenails. I couldn’t have done this FULLY any other way. I’ve given you your body to enjoy all the wonder and beauty I have for you right here and right now!
ME (defensiveness diminishing): So true! So true! I hear you.
BODY: Just remember, supposedly “wise” Dolly Mama, the ways I am working to make God’s dream for you to know pleasure and His love for you in all their fullness come true!
My ears are for you to hear the “I love you Mom” on the phone from one of your kids and the spring peepers as they call out to each other in your yard.
My nose brings the joy of a Mother’s Day lilac and an early-June peony and the delicious smell of chocolate chip cookies baking.
- My tongue tastes a hot cup of tea (with all your favorite sugar and light cream) and gives a way for you to experience the pleasure of a stuffed cabbage and perogie from S&D Polish Deli in the Strip District!
- My skin helps you to receive the loving touch of Allen and the feel of the fuzzy blanket on a cold winter day.
I allow your soul to wonder, your mind to grow and your heart to love! Don’t forget your Word of the Year when it comes to me! Shalom, my dear Dolly Mama!
ME: Okay. I give in. You win, my precious body! Thanks for all you are and do! It feels so good to have called a truce for the moment! Keep fighting back when this “conversation” keeps happening (as we all know it will again and again and again)! Please be patient with me in the process! I’m a little pig-headed and a have a long way to go!
BODY: I’ll keep an “eye” on you! I’ll be cheering for you when you reach for your toothbrush, your eye patch, your mouth rinse, your vitamins, your pillow and all the small, but very kind ways you are taking care of me and reminding me how valuable I am! When you floss tonight, don’t forget to clean out all those crevices with a vengeance! WOO HOO! You’ve got this!
“Now may the Lord of shalom Himself give you shalom always in all ways.” (2 Thessalonians 3:16)
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