Healthy Bodies

I’m throwing myself into this running devotional since my friend needs to start the week after next. So all of my time has been dedicated to finding the best scripture for each day, writing a reflection on it, thinking of questions, etc. Which is also why I didn’t blog yesterday. I spent a lot of time writing yesterday, just not for this.

But, I want to keep up my momentum, and I have a few minutes before I need to go to my next meeting, so here I am.

Although I haven’t read TOB in a few days, I do want to update everyone on where my mind has been these last few days in terms of running. Most TOB speakers (or at least the ones I’ve found so far) talk about how we appreciate and love our physical body through sexuality. As a result, NFP and chastity are the biggest things that come up when it comes to TOB. I get it. I practice NFP, and I actually started thinking about doing it before I even knew what it was – because I wanted to feel empowered by having the knowledge and tools for my own body. And chastity has been one of the biggest things that distinguishes my current relationship with any other relationship I’ve had in my life.

Yet while sexuality is a huge part of my redemption through Christ, so is general health. If we’re talking about TOB, especially the beauty of the female body, then we need to discuss how the world has completely altered our sense of what’s good and true and beautiful. As I was caught in what the world was telling me about the relationship with men, which pushed me into extramarital sex and artificial contraception, the world was also telling me about how I needed to look. I turned exercise – this wonderful thing that God wants us to participate in to keep our bodies healthy – into something to punish my body. In addition, dieting is a twisted form of health. God wants us to eat things that are good for our bodies. He doesn’t want us limiting food just to maintain a certain size.

I was listening to the second episode of the Fountain of Carrots podcast, which discusses the Church’s teaching on sex, marriage, and NFP. At one point, the discussion came around to how these teachings arise out of a striving for virtue. Haley noted that Catholic virtue isn’t about what you can’t do. It’s merely saying yes to the good things. This made me think about my time with a food ministry in Los Angeles.

When my coworkers and I went into a church located in a food desert to talk about starting a food ministry, we let them know from the get-go that this wouldn’t be the type of healthy food education where we take things away. Sure, maybe eventually we want those donuts at coffee hour to go away. But right then, we simply wanted there to be an option of donuts OR fruit. Because then at least there was a better opportunity for a virtuous decision.

I don’t have time to think about this more or tie it all together. So I’ll just leave it at this – our choices affect our bodies, yes. I feel like that is the crux of the NFP chastity analysis of TOB. But what you choose to do with your body also affects your mind. I wasn’t open to rules and restrictions in my faith until I became a runner. Because as soon as you start running seriously, you realize how important it is to do the good thing…even if the good thing doesn’t feel like it’s the good thing in the short-term. I mean, who really wants to wake up at 7AM on a Saturday to run 8 miles? No one. But if you’ve signed up for a race in a few months where you’ll have to run 13.1 miles…well, you better do the good thing right now so that you can do the bigger good thing in the future.

And even if you’re not a crazy person who runs 13.1 miles for fun. If you had the choice to get up and move your body in some way, or sit in front of the TV or read a book, which would you choose? Don’t lie to me. I’m not judging you. Because I’d choose the book, too. But if we make that choice every single time, how will our bodies continue to serve God or others in just a few years? So I think physical health and exercise is integral to TOB. I just have to figure out how to articulate it better!

Gotta go now. Have a good Friday eve!

-Johnna

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