Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

I just had skin graft surgery. They removed all the cancerous skin around the mastectomy scar on my left breast and put on skin from my left thigh. I had just started thinking my chest was looking better and now I look like Frankenstein. I was sort of prepared because my father had gotten so many disfiguring surgeries on his neck and face in the years before he died (he would have been 80 today). Hey, I thought, at least I can put a shirt on to hide it. I told my dad in a tribute I wrote about him that cancer is ugly, but the people who fight cancer are beautiful. That he was beautiful no matter what he looked like. Now that it is me, it is harder to believe. Hard when you are looking in the mirror. I am just ignoring mirrors for the time being.

Even before the surgery, I never had a great attitude about my body. So when my friend, who had a unexpected mastectomy years ago, told me to say goodbye to my breasts, I thought she was a bit batty. But what the hay. Feeling a bit foolish, I found my self looking at the mirror one day. I said (out loud:-) to my left breast "you--you are a trouble maker. I am not sorry to see you go." Then I turned my head slightly and said to my right "You, I'm afraid, are guilty by association."

It is difficult to feel comfortable, let alone alone good in my skin right now. It would be easy for me to me to simply say I am spiritual creature and that the physical body doesn't matter but that would be over simplifying the human condition. We are not simply spiritual creatures. God created our hearts, our minds---and our bodies. We are given our bodies on loan to take care of and our physical bodies do effect us continually. We snap at our kids when we have a headache or the natural high from exercise (that, I have to admit, I haven't really understood) causes us to have a good day. Sometimes our bodies scream at us and demand our attention like toddlers who are feeling ignored. And sometimes they are just as hard to control.

But it is true that we are much more than our bodies. We must try to not let our baser instincts take over or let our bodies control our behavior. To bloom where you are planted means to bloom with the body that God gave us---whether that means struggling with your weight, or a receding (or non existent:-) hair line or a genetic make-up that makes cancer grow fast. It means living with the pains and the wounds of life until they fade, leaving us stronger. God made each one of our bodies and they are amazing-- even if they aren't conventionally beautiful. We all must find a way to come to terms with who we are physically-- whether that be permanent or temporary-- to bloom in our God given bodies.

One day we are all going to get beautiful, bright, shiny bodies that won't creak and groan with every passing hour. Someday all the pain will be but a faint memory. But until then this tent houses the Holy Spirit and is fantastically complicated and astonishingly efficacious. So while I am on this earth, I will bloom in the body I was planted in.

Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)
 13 For you created my inmost being;
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well.

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