I guess it never was mine to begin with, but my body is no longer my own. From the moment our now 4 month old baby was conceived, my body took on a completely different purpose. It's former life had been used for whatever I deemed it - running on a treadmill for as long as I could, sweating through an hour long spin class, attempting to fit the ideals I, along with millions of other women, hold to be truth.
I always wondered what it would be like to be pregnant. My body was always something I had struggled against. From being a dancer to being a perfectionist my struggles got the best of me when, as most may know, I developed anorexia in high school. Control of what I felt so out of control with (my body) was my ultimate goal and nothing would stop me from achieving the standards I set for myself. Nothing short of Christ could pull me from the pit I was in and He blessed me with parents, doctors, and a faith in Him that subsequently changed my life. Not to go into further detail, but it was my biggest cross that has ultimately led me to who I am in Christ today.
Once I hit college, my body issues seemed to follow. It was randomly opening to Romans 12 one day that opened my heart to the transformation God was preparing me for. Verses 1-2 from this passage read,
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."
I wanted God's will at that moment because it says that His will is good, pleasing, and PERFECT. What I was experiencing in myself was not any of these.
It was that next week during my freshman year that I encountered Theology of the Body. This encounter sent me down the path of faith and discovery I am on today.
To make a long story short in describing what this is, Pope John Paul II spent the first 5 years of his pontificate preaching on God's revelation in and through the human body. He spoke of marriage, celibacy, the creation of man and woman, and God's plan of salvation (among other things) in and through the body. Just think, Jesus was God made flesh. Christ took the form of a human man to offer his body on the cross for the salvation of the world. Mary even offered her body so that Jesus could become human. None of this is arbitrary
God created family, the giving and receiving of husband and wife especially through their bodies, to be an image of the Holy Trinity: God the Father giving Himself completely to His Son, Jesus receiving this Love and offering Himself back to the Father in return, and this love was so strong it produced a third, the Holy Spirit. God wanted something so prevalent to us to be the very thing that images Him, for in Genesis He said, "Let US create man in OUR image."
Jesus, our Bridegroom, vowed to love humanity freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully. He consummated these vows by offering Himself on the cross in an action that will forever proclaim true love. It wasn't enough for God, Himself, to just use words. He showed us.
This is why the sexual union speaks truth only in marriage. It is the action that God deemed to accompany, to consummate, the vows of loving one another freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully in the marriage vows. And this love can be so strong, that if ordained by God, can produce a third as well - a beautiful child to be another witness to the world and another soul that could potentially live forever with God in Heaven!
And, knowing that family and the members of it are meant to image GOD, where do you think the enemy of God is going to attack? That's right, the family.
Some notable results of this attack can be found anywhere in our culture. Thus, there is no longer a "need" to get married, people can just "live together" without the marriage commitment. Sex is seen as a primal urge, not as the mirror into our relationship with God it was intended to be. And children are seen as a burden and must be "regulated" as through abortion, and abortion's stem, contraception. The mentality is not one of trust in God, as Mary so bravely demonstrated with her yes, but it is the doubt of Eve not to trust the One who created her.
Sitting on the floor during that bible study, God revealed to me that Satan attacks me through my body for the reason it has the capacity to bear life and co-create a soul for Heaven. By allowing the lies to penetrate, I was hindering God's plan for myself and for humanity. So, I took the first step in saying yes.
Yet, the cross still remained heavy after that moment of realization my freshman year. Because of my eating disorder I wasn't able to bear children and never knew if I could. It wasn't until four years later, many novenas to Our Lady of Lourdes (who's feast is in February!!!), and a firm dedication of my body to God and my future children that God chose to restore me once again.
And this brings me to where I am today. Those "ideals" I held no longer serve the purpose they once did. Nor are they appropriate to hold against the miraculous life growing and nourishing itself inside of me. How amazing yet odd is it that it takes pregnancy to restore woman to her original framework of mind - the framework that our bodies are not meant to be picked apart, worshipped as an idol, and disregarded if it doesn't fit a standard?
I now choose to offer my body to my children for their growth and protection. I offer it to my husband to honor and support him. And I offer it to God so that I can bring His message through Theology of the Body to as many people as I can, for I know this is why my life has taken the journey it has. If only we all could realize the incredible nature of God's love and the order he created things to have. For then, and only then, will we be truly set free.