Franciscan Spirit Blog

Honoring the Sacred Nature of Growth

Our bodies tell stories that we would often rather keep quiet. Whether it’s cellulite, weight gain, stretch marks, stomach rolls, or big feet, our bodies tell the story of growth—the story of our rising and falling, our loving and losing. We are told we should be embarrassed about these signs of life; we are told to cover them up, make them disappear, or find any solution other than accepting them. But what if we decided not to?

What if, instead of being ashamed that those pants no longer fit, you affirmed yourself for the growth, maturity, and substance that you’ve gained since you last wore them? Not pretending that there is a direct correlation but letting what is visible remind you to see and honor what is invisible.

Sure, maybe you went up a size since last year, but let that discovery remind you of the more important ways you have grown in that same amount of time. Maybe you took a big risk, got a job promotion, had a baby, learned about a justice issue, set an important boundary, deepened your faith, or cared for an aging parent. Look at all the important ways you have grown. Look at how much more these things matter than the inches around your waist.

The truth is that your relationship with your body can never be healed through diet and exercise—not in a real, lasting sense. There will always be something to dislike or criticize—always. Healing your body-soul connection has to come from touching on the sacredness of this vessel you inhabit. That means honoring the many ways your body leads you to develop, expand, and become more than you used to be. That means refusing to punish, restrict, and demean her. That means giving her room to flourish and grow.

Aging and Renewing

Everywhere you turn, you will find anti-aging products for women. Nearly every beauty line for females has at least one product that makes such a claim. Men, on the other hand, are very rarely marketed to through such an angle. When a male movie star gets wrinkles and gray hair, he is called a silver fox. When his female co-star ages the same way, she is called washed up. We are all aware of this double standard, whether or not we consciously think about it. It affects us in ways both subtle and overt.

Having the gift of long years on this earth means that eventually our bodies will tell the story. Facial wrinkles, sagging body parts, varicose veins, liver spots, unusual moles, renegade body hair, stretch marks, cellulite, and gray hair are a natural and expected part of aging, not a reason for shame. Every human on earth has some combination on that list, and likely a few more.

How you choose to manage (or not!) those things is up to you, but the invitation here is to find a kind of neutral acceptance rather than a strong emotional reaction to such bodily phenomena.

Luminous 30-Day Journal


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