I have lost weight my whole life. I have also gained weight my whole life. Yes. I am a professional. As a Weight Watcher Leader for several years, I nailed down the calories, verses fiber, verses fat. I probably know way more than you want to know including why you’re eating while you read this even though your tummy is plenty full of supper. If Weight Watchers printed membership cards like Costco, mine would say “since 1976”. I am one of the Enlightened Ones (no pun intended) who have attained the status called “Lifetime”, which has, periodically, felt less like an achievement and more like a prison sentence; chained forever -- not to Weight Watchers -- but to my BODY. I used to start classes with: “I’m Mona and I have lost 150 pounds!” After the collective gasp I added, “Thirty pounds five times.” If “Lifetime” is a sentence, then it’s because I’m a repeat offender. Ah January: time again to back up, gird up my loins (that means ‘let out your belt’) and make a run for the summit again. Sigh. It’s so much work and discipline – who am I doing this for? Whose body is it anyway?
Many years ago, I was alone with my beloved mother-in-law for several hours, her last hours. I took the chair beside her hospital bed and held her hand. The minutes passed to the hum and rhythm of the respirator and heart monitor. I analyzed her left hand in a way that you would never do with a person were they aware. I tried to memorize every wrinkle, every fingernail, every blood vessel. I couldn’t help wondering about all the things those hands had held, all the people they had touched, all the work they had done in mortality. Most of all, I thought on how those fingers, now a little aged, had caressed my husband, as an infant, as a little boy, as a man, and how they had been nearly the first to wrap around my babies the moment they entered their second estate. In those timeless hours, feeling her history through her hand, I developed a spiritual comprehension about the wonder and glory of our mortal tabernacle.
It was a sacred experience two days later to dress her body. My sisters and I were filled with reverence, as if in a holy act. Though her spirit animated that physical tabernacle, we knew it was the body which actually did all the important things: rocking a baby, wiping a tear, stroking a forehead, tying a shoe, feeding a family, kissing a cheek, supporting an elbow, packing a bag, waving good-bye. Mother was known as the consummate “lady” – always pretty, fit, well-groomed, strong, and ready to serve, so we painted her nails, styled her hair and brushed pink on her very still cheeks. We did it because we revered her soul: the spirit we loved AND the body who loved us. (D&C 88:15)
From the personal revelation that poured out on me after that experience, I learned that I had put too much emphasis on “mastering” my body, instead of figuring out how to work in harmony with it. I found “harmony” comes from becoming aware of, and then frequently reminding myself, of the authentic reasons for having a body: primarily to build the Kingdom of God on earth by freely sharing what my body can do for family and others. (Think of it! Stretch marks, grandma jelly-bellies, dishpan hands, and dark circles under the eyes have a glorious aspect!) In this paradigm, caring for and respecting the body is not only an advantage in this life, but will be “so much the advantage in the world to come” (D&C 130:19-20). Who, I reasoned, will have the greatest satisfaction on resurrection morning – she who revered, honored, and shared that part of her soul called “body”, or she who misused, ill-fed, hoarded, complained about, or degraded it? My beautiful mother-in-law will certainly be resplendent when celestial-ized, having glorified God in spirit and body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
I was thinking about all these heady things in the dead of night, when, and at the chilly crack of dawn, I found myself shivering, even under the electric blanket. My honey, who self-generates heat like a grizzly in hibernation, was two feet away. I closed the gap. He moaned, just conscious enough of the freeloader on his back to protest. I suddenly felt defiant: “Whose body is it anyway?” I whispered, “If I give you my body, you have to give me yours!” I knew it was unfair to hurdle this school-yard sort of logic at him in his state of mushy-brain, but he must have got the point, because he actually rolled over, put his arm around me, and drew me in tight before promptly falling back to sleep. At that blissful moment, sharing my body was alright with me.