“…I can say that I think it is important to pray naked in front of a full-length mirror sometimes, especially when you are full of loathing for your body. Maybe you think you are too heavy. Maybe you have never liked the way your hipbones stick out. Do your breasts sag? Are you too hairy? It is always something. Then again, maybe you have been sick, or gone through surgery that has changed the way you look. You have gotten glimpses of your body as you have bathed or changed clothes, but so far maintaining your equilibrium has depended on staying covered up as much as you can…This can only go on so long…”
-Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World, p.37-38
This past Monday, on her new talk show, Katie Couric talked openly about her struggle with Bulimia that lasted through college and into her twenties. Because Katie has always seemed so put together, Fox News asks is this the “Most Surprising Celeb Confession?” They say that they “didn’t see it coming.”
Yet many of us women know better.
Whether “put together” in the eyes of others, or a little rough around the edges, very few of us have made it to where we are today, without at least some insecurities about our physical form. We have body issues that often come back to haunt us in different seasons of our lives. Many of us have at least approached experiencing what Barbara Brown Taylor describes as a “loathing for your body.”
Blame it on the media, an ignorant comment a kid made in Jr. High, or on our tendency to compare ourselves with the women around us–whatever propelled us, each of us has traveled down the path of body discontentment. And many of us have gone as far as hurting ourselves physically or emotionally.
All of this, I believe, breaks the heart of God.
In Genesis 1:27-31, we find that God created us in His image, and saw that He created us good.
In Psalm 139, God revealed to David, that He created our “innermost being” and that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
And in I Corinthians 6:19, we are that our bodies are meant to be temples.
But often, it feels as if the world we grew up in as women, is screaming otherwise.
So Barbara Brown Taylor invites us to pray.
But not just anywhere or any how. She encourages us to pray in front of the mirror, naked. Now, I will admit, I haven’t done it (I am all for baby steps). But I do believe that she has a point–our struggles with our bodies “can only go on for so long.”
We can only believe the lies that tell us we are not pretty enough, thin enough, curvy enough, tall enough or short enough, for so long.
And so we need to pray. We need to look in the mirror and pray.
Because of past weight struggles and believing I was ugly for all of my adolescence, I admit I haven’t been able to do the naked part yet. But lately, after I am done getting ready for the day, I have made myself look in the mirror a little bit longer. And as I look, I am beginning to ask:
“Ok God, what do you see?”
The answer, I am sensing, is far better than I think.
“Whether you are sick or well, lovely or irregular, there comes a time when it is vitally important for your spiritual health to drop your clothes, look in the mirror, and say, ‘Here I am. This is the body-like-no-other that my life has shaped. I live here. This is my soul’s address.”
-Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World, p.38