Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV
I grew up in a fundamental Christian culture where I was taught to believe that our desires, especially the sexual ones were bad.
My understanding was that when one craved certain “sinful” things it was because they were bad. A good person craved good things.
Childhood sexual abuse mixed in with these dangerous beliefs birthed an identity saturated with toxic shame.
An early memory as a teen comes to mind of sitting in my room fighting off “bad desires” by visualizing a castle where God was the King. I knew if I gave into those desires, I was destroying His castle, making it an unfit place for Him to live. If I didn’t give into those desires, God was pleased with me and wasn’t ashamed to dwell inside of me. I also believed when I gave into the bad desires that evil could move in.
I didn’t grow up in church, but my mother watched the TV preachers most Sundays. I learned by listening to them that confessing to God meant forgiveness. I also spent a lot of time in my room begging God to forgive me for giving into sinful desires and being bad. I thought if I beat myself up enough He’d be satisfied and finally forgive me.
Thankfully, as an adult I learned about God’s grace and compassion and stopped feeling it necessary to earn God’s forgiveness by beating myself up. When I came to the realization that Jesus suffered and died for my sins, I felt a tremendous relief in my soul.
However, today I am still in the process of learning what it means to have a body that God calls His temple. I have recently enrolled in a trauma informed coaching class where I am learning about the effects of trauma in our bodies. I am fascinated by the science of how our bodies do not forget the traumas that have happened to us. There is still so much that I do not understand about this, but what I have learned thus far has been incredibly valuable and healing for me.
When we pay attention to our bodies, we learn that they have something important to say to us about our pain.
Inside our beautiful, amazing and complex body systems, we find a temple that honors our pain and holds it until we notice it and are able to do the same.
Once I had an experience with the King of my temple. His reaction to the shame I was feeling about my desires surprised and deeply soothed me. I realized He was the one holding my pain. It turns out He never left me even on my worst days.
We glorify God in our body when we honor what we feel by paying attention to it and being curious about what it wants to tell us. I believe we do the most damage to ourselves when we ignore what we are feeling or beat ourselves up.
I have held onto this memory every time I have wanted to give up on myself and believe I was incapable of anything good.
I recognize today when I honor my body by acknowledging how it feels, I am honoring my Creator, too.
I believe the work being done today around trauma and our bodies is a gift from our Creator to us.
If you are interested in learning more, here are a few helpful resources.