Once upon a time, as children, summer represented freedom, didn’t it? We looked forward to being sprung from school for those glorious three months of fun, sun and play. Once upon a time, I wore my navy blue swimsuit with white footprints on it, never once preoccupied that I was too fat to wear it.
But then something changed. We started to change. Growing up, in various ways, was not for the faint of heart. As we entered adolescence, all of a sudden, summer took on a different tone. As responsibility increased and adulthood loomed, we started to focus on less fun things: summer jobs, preparation for college and, especially if you were female, conforming a rapidly changing female physique into a thin and acceptable enough one, at least, according to swimsuit criteria, anyway. Now, I avoided wearing a swimsuit. Now I believed I was too fat and hated the way I looked. Now I spent each summer devising a different, revolutionary and transforming diet which would help me lose that unwanted weight and fix me, once and for all. And I wasn’t the only one in similar pursuits, was I?
Indeed, as adolescents and as young adults, a lot of us started looking for escape and comfort from the pressure of our increasingly complicated, high stress lives. Enter addictions, compulsions and disorders. Suddenly, coping becomes the answer, via drugs, alcohol, food, diets, eating disorders and all types of external promises of hope and happiness. You may have never dieted or developed and eating disorder, but you probably have sought out some release valve to endure the pressures, pain and stress of your life, right?
The summer season focuses a lot on the body. Starting as early as January and February, fashion and health magazines seem to contain all kind of articles promising “makeovers,” “new bikini bodies” and “the perfect diet plan” to ensure losing that dreaded winter weight. And summer is all about skimpy swimsuits, revealing clothes, prom/pageant dresses and, brides and bridesmaids to be, let’s not forget that end all, be all event, known as the summer wedding!
I know I sure couldn’t forget that event myself; an excerpt from my book, “Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder” illustrates my own descent into madness, only to discover the answer was not found in my thin bridesmaid frame.
“One of my ‘goals’ was fitting into a bridesmaid dress for my cousin’s wedding…At that time, I weighed around 115-120 lbs, which translated into a size 9/ 10 dress.
By June, I was about 95-100 lbs and the dress swallowed me. I felt my accomplishment as the seamstress cinched in the sides of the waist. Yes, I was getting smaller. My cousin could only look at my mother in stunned, horrified disbelief. But, hey, I was successful!
I really started obsessing the two weeks prior to the wedding. Looking back on my diary entries, I wrote a repetitive string of comments like, ‘I’m not going to eat today or tomorrow,’ and ‘I can’t blow it now. I’m so close.’ ...
…The August wedding eventually came and proved to be both anti-climactic and tense…At 82 pounds, I tried on the dress and discovered that’s all it was—just a dress. Yes, it was hanging on me, but it didn’t really mean anything anymore. I was too exhausted for it to mean anything to me...”
A frequently used phrase, both in and outside of Christian circles, has been “the body is a temple.” Most recently, in the diet and fitness arena, it’s taken on even greater prominence, as emphasis on maintenance and lifestyle, including the upkeep of physical attractiveness, seems to be of the utmost importance. So, temple it is! We concentrate on the outward structure.
But we miss the point of the temple, the sacred point. A temple is not simply a building. It is a place in which God’s Spirit resides.
“Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?”
1 Corinthians 3:16
So, we would do well to take care of that structure, not simply because we want it to look pretty, but because each one of us is entrusted with such a great and honorable responsibility and opportunity. God has chosen you; God has chosen me. How will we respond?
It’s shortsighted and harmful to only look to the quick fix, whether that be the crash diet or the addictive substance we designate to be our “solution.” Only God is meant to be that.
This summer, as we lighten up in our attire and become more body conscious, let’s remember our bodies are not merely “things.” They are precious vessels; let’s treat them as such. That may mean eating healthier, exercising, seeking and maintaining professional recovery programs. But is also means viewing ourselves as the incredible spiritual beings God has called each of us to be.
“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Let’s think about that as we view summer!
Copyright © 2015 by Sheryle Cruse