"Having a body is a lot of work."
When I first read this sentence, the first thought that came to my mind was, “Girl, please, you have no idea.” Yup, that was bitter. In fact I felt so bitter that I decided not to continue reading. I made pre-conceived notions that this author (who appears to come from a privileged background and have at least “fair” health, as evidenced by her ability to have both a job and a family) would not understand people like me—that is, those of us who battle chronic pain and autoimmune illnesses everyday. I was afraid that my hardships may be belittled unintentionally, or that, even worse, I may miss out on an uplifting message because I just wouldn’t be able to relate. But, I am happy to report, I was wrong.
First, I was wrong that she wouldn’t understand people like me. In fact, I felt she understood me quite well. She validated and carefully explained the complex relationship I/we have with our bodies, a relationship full of dialectics, ranging from hate to love and peace to storm. Her writing and story telling was spot on.
Second, I was pleasantly surprised that I was wrong about whether the “good news” within her message would be applicable to my life. You see, for a long time, I had given up on the idea that my body could ever be a “temple” because such an ideal seems far-fetched. Instead, I would call it a “dungeon” because most days, it feels like there are dragons and many other ugly creatures that live inside—all the various forms of chronic pain and autoimmune disorders. These creatures represent my often-uncontrollable symptoms that come out in their own time, no matter what I do. Thus calling it a “temple” just feels like a cruel joke.
And yet, the “good news” is that no matter how broken my body is or how many dragons come out today, there is still potential to have a little “temple” inside of me. That is, God can still work through me, and I can both find and be a place of peace and healing for myself and others. But this does not happen automatically; I have to be proactive. Thus, this reading helps me to renew my commitment to accept my limits, respect and listen to my body and practice self-care on a regular basis, so that somehow my dungeon and I can still fulfill our God-given purpose.