Shawna Atteberry

Baker, Writer, Teacher

What Can I Do with My Body?

I’m still trying to figure out what to do with my body. You’d think that wouldn’t be a problem at 38. You’d think wrong. Of course Christianity really hasn’t known what to do with bodies. It’s not something we’ve ever been good at it. We’re good with the don’ts: Don’t drink, don’t smoke, and don’t have sex. But we’re never told what to do. As Barry Taylor told John Morehead:

A problem a lot of people have with Christianity is that it externalizes the spiritual experience that basically de-emphasizes the importance of this life but the real importance is where you go after this life. So you want to be ready for heaven. But there is very little advice about what to do with your body while you’re waiting for that experience: don’t do anything wrong, don’t be bad, accept the decay.

Barry goes on to say that this is strange considering that Christianity is “one of the most material spiritualities out there where we celebrate that God puts on flesh and lived as one of us.” Not only is it “a problem a lot of people have with Christianity,” it’s a problem a lot of Christians have with our own religion. Including me.

It doesn’t help that I grew up with a contradictory view of the body. On the one had i heard my body was the temple of the Holy Spirit. God lived in me. But I heard things like this a lot more: “The body is sinful flesh.” “The flesh is evil, and the Spirit is good.” “The body is the devil’s playground (or the mind depending on the preacher). And then there was “one day we’ll shed these evil, sinful bodies and go to heaven.” I don’t think I’ve ever quite believed the body was a temple, let alone my body. After all how can the flesh (i. e. the body) be evil, and the Spirit good, and my body be the temple of the Spirit?

But I am coming to see and believe that my body is good, Spirit-filled, and even holy. I am coming to believe that my body is the temple of the living God. Here are some of do’s:

Do be nice to your body.

Do tell your body it’s beautiful just the way it is.

Do get enough sleep.

Do yoga.

Do walk.

Do eat when you’re hungry.

Do rest when you’re tired.

How do you see your body? How has your relationship with your body changed? What are some of your do’s?

What Are You Saying to Yourself?

Over the last couple of months I realized how negative my self-talk is. If someone else said the things to me I was saying to me, I’d deck him or her. Or at least walk away. But for months I let my personal demons and critics beat me up over and over again. No wonder I never felt good and always thought I was sick. I was running myself into the ground and wearing myself out.

All I did was tell myself I couldn’t do whatever it was I was working on. The book proposal was never going to be finished, let alone a book written and published. My sermons sucked: all of them. Who did I think I was to plant a church? Regularly posting to my blog and drawing attention to it? A pipe dream. It’s no wonder I was depressed and had no energy. My inner critic was wearing me out.

I am slowly changing how I talk to myself. For the last couple of months, I’ve started to pay attention to what bounces around in my head. It wasn’t good. I am slowly stopping the negative thoughts in their tracks and replacing all of that negative chatter with positive affirmations:

  • I am a good writer.
  • I’ve already written a book: my graduate thesis. (The book proposal I’m working on is rewriting my thesis for the general public. That’s how Career Women of the Bible was born.)
  • I can write another book. And another book. And another….
  • I am a good pastor.
  • I am a good preacher.
  • If my sermons sucked, my PK Hubby would have said something.

When I’m working on Career Women of the Bible and I think, “This will never happen, I cut off the critic. Then I say (if I’m alone out loud): “I am a good writer, and I am going to finish this book proposal.” I’ve also set up a little group to be accountable to daily, so I do write instead of psyching myself out.

Self-talk is very important. How we talk to ourselves makes all the difference. If we don’t believe we’ll succeed, then we don’t try very hard, if at all. At one point, I’m not sure I could have seen that due to the depression. But now that is under control with antidepressants, I am able to stop, look at what I’m saying to myself, and say, “No. That’s not right. That is not who I am. This is who I am.”

What have you been saying to yourself? Is it good? Positive? Or are you running yourself into the ground? How do you deal with negative self talk? What do you say to build yourself up and live into your potential?

Click here for more posts on depression.