In my last blog, I shared about the battlefield we are on, having physical bodies and living as “engendered” people. I mentioned that our secular culture prizes slim, beautiful and fit bodies—pretty exclusively. Meanwhile, our Christian culture virtually ignores the body keeping us focused on spiritual things. We tend to forget that God became flesh and dwelt among us in Jesus. He too had a body that was wonderfully and fearfully made but also annoying and complicated like ours.
This crazy dichotomy can have some damaging results in us. Thinness (for women) and muscularity (for men) can become the sole place of value and acceptance. This can lead to eating disorders or working out till you look like a mutant version of the Hulk. I shared there were things about my physicality which I couldn’t control and how they affected my sense of masculinity. I was shorter than most guys in my class, struggled with acne and being a “late bloomer” sure didn’t help.
We have explored this topic several times at our Thursday night support group. One of the things we’ve done during small group time is to explore some questions together. Many of us (most?) have been wounded when it comes to how we or others see our bodies. We also, at times, have been made to feel inadequate as men and women. This is a perfect place to begin to process the beliefs we have about ourselves and allow the Lord’s healing. I offer these for you to explore:
What is one thing you would change about your body if you could?
How have the following influenced your identity as a man or a woman—masculinity or femininity?
- Body Type (slim, medium, husky, ample, curvy)
- Early/Late Bloomer (Physical Development)
- Facial Features (Face Shape, Eyes, Ears, Nose, Hair)
- Athletic/Intellectual/Artistic (Temperament)
- Skin Issues (Acne, Scarring, etc)
What are things you can control to bring about change?—how much are you invested in changing?
For things you can’t control, how do you not become a victim of how you/others view your physicality? Where do you find your value?
What attitudes, expectations or behaviors need to change about the things I can’t control?
One of my favorite shows is The Big Bang Theory. It follows 4 nerdy but brilliant young scientists and their beautiful blonde neighbor that lives across the hall. Probably the nerdiest (and most annoying) of all is Sheldon, who is also the smartest. He often carries himself with an air of self-righteous superiority. He’s also crazy OCD and a complete hypochondriac and his efforts to control everything is why the show is so funny.
In one episode Sheldon is almost in a car wreck and realizes the fragility of his own body. He constructs a robot of himself that he will send out into the world which he controls from the safety of his bedroom. This “mobile virtual presence” as he calls it, is comprised of tractor legs, a computer screen with his face and one of his t-shirts on hanger. (See clip here.) So awesome. By the end of the episode, Sheldon realizes he can’t live in fear for his body and must once again, navigate the real world.
We too can’t live out of our wounds around gender and our own fear surrounding our aging bodies. What does it mean to reclaim those areas around our bodies and sense of masculinity and femininity? I use the word “reclaim” intentionally. There have been things in our gender, sexuality and bodies that have been taken, stolen or exploited. What does it mean to take back that ground—to reclaim it? We’ll explore that next time.
Program DirectorA staff member since June of 1992, Scott is a key player in the WGA discipleship ministry. He plans, organizes, and implements every aspect of the Thursday night support group. In addition to public speaking, counseling group participants and training leaders, Scott maintains personal contact with many group members and it is to Scott’s credit that many group members feel personally welcomed, cared for and loved. Although he holds a degree in graphic arts, he attributes his ministry qualifications to the “school of hard knocks.” God’s abundant grace continues to be the instrument of growth in his life, and he desires to be firmly grounded in the forgiveness and freedom of relationship with Jesus Christ. Scott attends a Presbyterian Church.
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