I saw the most hilarious meme on Facebook the other day. It stated: “No tattoos for me. My body is a temple.” In response, the caption reads, “Temples:” and the photo is of a very ornate cathedral full of intricate works of art.
I thought it was hilarious because the tattoo debate has been raging on for years in the Christian community, with different denominations having different opinions on the coulds or shouldn’ts of body art, and the reality is that at the end of the day, most people have no idea what they’re talking about.
I do have a tattoo, and no, there’s nothing wrong with the tattoo I have or the reason I chose to get one. My tattoo has a lot of meaning for me, I thought about getting it for five years, and was fully committed when I got it. And I chose to get it in a spot that’s not often visible, since it’s my first one. So did I destroy my temple by getting a tattoo? Absolutely not.
I believe treating your body as a temple has less to do with what you do to your body than with the reasons why you do the things you do. And I’m not just talking about tattoos.
Our bodies really are temples, and whether or not you’re religious, the metaphor stands. A temple is a place of worship and divinity. Now, I’m not suggesting you should worship your body, but you should treat it as a place of worship.
To receive the faithful, temples are cleaned and efforts are made to keep them in good running order. Our bodies deserve the same respect. If you are a person of faith, you know your body is a reflection of the creator, and as such, taking care of our bodies is paramount.
I’m not going to lie. I find it hard to prioritize temple caretaking in a busy life with three homeschooled kids. Exercising and eating well tend to fall to the back burner. Add to this the fact that I’m an emotional eater, and things get even harder. And there are other obstacles in my way.
I actually love exercising, but I’m unable to do many of the exercises I used to enjoy before my arthritis and unstable joints went completely downhill. I pay for an intense exercise session with days of pain afterwards, and not just the “workout sore”—excruciating joint pain that makes it hard to walk. So I have to adapt, and it’s not easy to go from recreational triathlete to 30-minute walker. But each day I wake up and I try to keep going. I fail, more often than not. But I’ve only gotten this far in life because even when I fail, I’ve always been willing to get up and try again.
When your temple gets into disrepair, it doesn’t need to be bulldozed. But it does need some TLC. The less time you feel you have to take care of your body, the more time you should probably spend taking care of it. I know it’s hard, especially when you have young children. But there are ways around it: we can exercise with our kids (even use them as weights—it challenges us and they love it!), we can adapt our exercise routine when our bodies decide they can’t do the old stuff anymore, and we can spend a few minutes each day closing our eyes and focusing (or calming down) our thoughts…
I’m not doing an excellent job of any of this, but I’m a work in progress. Learning to love myself as I am means accepting that I mess up frequently, and working on messing up less. So I’m trying each day to make a commitment to to myself to walk 30 minutes and to do whatever it is my body needs at the time, whether that’s going for a walk, praying, lifting some weights, or just sitting outside with my thoughts. Will I do this every single day? I’ll try. I’ll fail sometimes. And that’s OK. Life isn’t for living perfectly; it’s for learning along the way.
What will you do to take care of your temple this week?