Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Forgive Thyself

Paul says something in Ephesians 5:29 that I have trouble accepting. He says, "No man ever hated his own body." And the reason I have trouble accepting that is because I know first-hand that it's simply not true.

I know a lot of men who hate their own body.

And I'm not talking about the superficial sorts of things we are frustrated with about ourselves. I'm not talking about the dislike a man has for the shape of his nose or his battle with acne, nor am I talking about the woman who is displeased with her curves (or lack thereof) or the number on the pants she just bought. I'm talking about people who are fundamentally broken and know it and hate themselves for it.

I'm talking about the diabetic who hates his body for not being able to digest sugar properly, for requiring such painstaking maintenance just to function. I'm talking about the autistic woman who hates that she cannot form the connections she longs for in life and curses herself for it. I'm talking about the abused who despises her body every day for betraying her, for feeling the pain she doesn't want to feel. I'm talking about the man who feels no pain at all and is pained by the distance he feels from himself. 

I'm talking about people who are just broken - like we're all just broken - and who spend their lives hating not their brokenness, but themselves. Who spend their lives looking in the mirror unable to separate who they are from the body they're trapped in. Who spend their days working toward a better way when that's never coming. They cannot heal themselves. They cannot change who they are. They cannot mend how their broken bodies work. Still, they spend their lives at odds with their bodies, hoping...hoping one day for that story to be different. Always disappointed. Always hurt. Always angry that it just has to be this way.

Paul goes on to say that since no man has ever hated his own body, he always gives it food. He gives it what it needs to sustain itself. Clearly, to Paul, this is the evidence that the man does not hate his body; he continues to feed it.

But just because we're feeding our bodies doesn't mean we're giving them what they need. Often, it's sadly not the case. Often, we're giving our bodies something but it is least what they need. What we give them may sustain them, but it does not nourish them. What nourishes them is going to be different for every broken man, every broken woman. You have to figure out what works for you. Then offer that to yourself with grace. But I humbly suggest you start here:

With forgiveness.

Most of us are in desperate need of forgiving ourselves. Of forgiving our broken selves. And if you've been reading this week, you know I talked on Monday about forgiveness. It doesn't mean we give up. It doesn't mean we just resign ourselves to what our bodies are doing. When we offer ourselves forgiveness, we offer God the opportunity to begin His redeeming work. We give Him the chance to start writing these broken bodies into our redeemed stories, and it starts to change everything we thought about ourselves. 

We start to see what we're able to do through our brokenness that we couldn't do any other way. We start to see where we're able because we start to see where He's able. We start to understand how even though this brokenness sometimes holds us down, it also sometimes stands us up. It sometimes gives us just the footing we need to do big things. To do important things. To do holy things. It helps us to begin to understand that our broken bodies are not who we are; we are incredible beings of God merely stuck in broken bodies.

And there is a huge difference.

You were never meant to live at odds with yourself. You weren't. You weren't meant to spend your life fighting your brokenness; you'll never win. It's time to forgive yourself. To stop working against yourself. To stop trying to find a way to make this thing work. You can't; only God can do that. Let go of your brokenness. Give it to the God who knows what to do with it. 

You may just find that somewhere in your brokenness lies His fullness. In fact, I'm almost sure of it.

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