By Amber Kinloch
One morning this week, my mom and I stopped to talk with one of our elderly friends after church. Our friend brought up my epilepsy, remarking how nobody would look at me and ever guess that anything was wrong with me or that I’d been through hell multiple times with my health problems.
To be candid, I don’t view my epilepsy this way. It has been a cross for me in the past, but now I consider it a blessing. So many graces have come to me because I have epilepsy. I chose writing as my primary work, for instance, because epilepsy appeared to shut the door on other job options for me. Without this “problem,” I might never have developed my writing gift.
Lots of people don’t see that, though; to them, my epilepsy is not a gift. It’s a problem to be fixed or tolerated.
Later that same day, I went in for a physical therapy appointment to treat a longstanding bout of tendonitis. It’s not a big issue, not compared to epilepsy. But lately I have been dissatisfied. My mindset has been to criticize my body because it isn’t functioning as I want it to.
The therapist gave me a different view on things. As I ran through different tests and exercises with her, she remarked on my great flexibility. Not only that, but she said I had a nice balance of strength to match it. That made me think of one of my brothers, a self-trained elite athlete. He has incredible strength and endurance, but he lacks flexibility. Who knew I could best him in the physical realm.
The therapist’s positive outlook made a deep impression on me. Rather than focus on my body’s limitations, the therapist taught me to appreciate what my body can do.
In prior articles, we’ve discussed the great dignity of our bodies. Not only are we made in the image and likeness of God, but God Himself has taken on a body like ours. This should occasion a profound, multilevel gratitude in us. We should appreciate our bodies for the spiritual realities they express and share in. We should also appreciate how they function in the here and now, thanking God for what we have and not stewing bitterness or resentment over our physical limitations.
This is not easy. A lot of people are dissatisfied with how their bodies look or function. Think of women who struggle with their self-image during pregnancy. It’s all too easy for an expectant mother to stress about the changes (admittedly, some quite uncomfortable!) taking place in her body, forgetting about the marvelous work it’s doing.
Another example: Most of us are probably inclined to grumble when we’re sick. Yet do we ever pause to give thanks for the vast number of ordinary days on which we feel well?
This is not to deny the struggles we all face over our limitations. We’re afflicted with Original Sin and therefore are subject to the penalties associated with it, including pain, sickness, and death. But the truth remains: our bodies are remarkable creations.
I have heard so many stories of people surviving something they shouldn’t have. One of my next door neighbors is among those people. It’s amazing. The body strains to live, warring against death, up to its last moment.
The next time you find yourself feeling dissatisfied with your body, pause to appreciate everything admirable about it, even if it’s something minor. You’re an incredible creation, “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). You are unique, irreplaceable. Praise God for it!
Below is a video of a father-daughter cover of “Colbie Caillat’s song “Try”. It beautifully addresses the struggle so many have with body image issues.
Amber writes from the bunker of her living room. There she hunkers down with her laptop and a blanket while keeping an eye and ear tuned in to the activity of family life. Music set on loop keeps her energy flowing as she muses on the deeper happenings of ordinary life and what food to restock the fridge with.