The last major allergic reaction I had was in college when I went to an event for the graduating class of my high school that I was definitely not invited to. It was a potluck for families to celebrate the graduates, and my best friend invited me as her "sister" to attend. All the staff knew me, knew I wasn't blood related, and let me stay. Potlucks and buffets are always danger zones for those with food allergies, so I brought a Jamba Juice and only ate from the one dish I knew was guaranteed to be safe for me. Cross contamination somehow got to me.
I spent the majority of the evening considering the exits, drinking water to keep my esophagus open, and debating which would be more embarrassing - an ambulance coming for an event crasher or someone finding my dead body in the locker room after the event. The former was clearly more embarrassing, so I planned to go die in the locker room if I stopped being able to.
I've shared this story with other friends with food allergies, and they agree they would have done the exact same thing. We value our own bodies so little.
The past eight years has been a journey of discovering how to value and care for the body God has given me. I have physical limitations. I have emotional and spiritual ones too. But this physical thing that slows me down isn't something to be ashamed of. I actually want to honor God with my body, and one of the important ways for me to do that is to recognize and honor the limitations I currently have. Today that means no walking as I tenderly stretch my tight calves and care for the delicate feet that aren't used to regular weight bearing pressure.
There's a delicate balance between pushing myself to the next achievement and giving grace for the current limits. I have not figured out the perfect way to address that - because it's emotionally and spiritually taxing, and I have limits in those areas too. I have, however, grown in my ability to model for others the holistic care for myself that allows me to make sustainable gains in my physical ability. I had a couple conversations this week with students I mentor about how I want to love my body well and encourage them to love their bodies well also. I actually have lots of conversations with young people I mentor about how to honor God with their bodies, and it's a wide array of convictions that come out when we use that language. For some it's avoiding sexual sin, for some it's eating responsibly, and for some it's making sure to exercise. All of those things go into caring for our bodies; our bodies matter.
I grew up considering myself a brain trapped in a body, and I'm still practicing the appropriate language to honor how God has made me a fully embodied being. This week's lessons in my class covered the end times, and we talked about how it's an important Christian belief that there will be a bodily resurrection. We will not be left as naked souls. I want to care for my body now not because it's the collection of atoms I'll possess forever but because God made me holistically.
This week I'll be paying attention to my ankles and calves, my water and veggie intake, and my sleep and Netflix habits. How will you care for your body?