I mean, of course I am. But for a long time, I didn't treat myself like one. I felt like the physical was "bad" just because it was physical. Yeah, I know that's silly. God never says such a thing and my parents didn't teach me that, either. Where'd I get the idea? I'm not sure.
When I was a kid, I embraced the physical - I climbed everything in sight, jumped in leaf piles, dug into sandboxes, hung from swingsets, ran and flipped, tumbled and swam underwater. I loved to be in motion!
Skip ahead to first grade. All of a sudden we have to sit in classrooms all day. And when it came to gym class or recess, I found myself in the midst of many other competitive children. Through elementary school, I ran to claim the parallel bars that were off in the far part of the field. I had more space there. More space to swing and turn and flip. More space for my body to be.
Skip ahead to middle school. No more parallel bars. Group sports. More classrooms. And not only that, but my own body was changing. Suddenly I felt crowded out, even by my own body! I tried to ignore it. I tried to repress it, deny it. I didn't care what I wore or how I looked. The physical world seemed to have no more room for climbing and spinning and skipping; but in my mind, there was plenty of space. I could daydream, think, write, draw, consider, research. I could run as far as I wanted. I felt free there. But really, I think I had trapped myself there. I began to experience a split in my self-concept - I didn't want to admit that I had a physical form or strong emotions. I only acknowledged my intelligence and pursued that in place of the others. My mind ended up becoming the only part of me that I still honored.
Skip ahead to my 20's. I'm pursuing more and more school. Languages, information technology, information structures. I was ignoring my body as much as possible. I ate sandwiches every day because it was easy to pick up a sandwich. Minimal effort and time to distract me from transcription and research. I didn't really care what clothes I wore, so long as they were appropriate and didn't attract much attention. But I had become so walled off from myself. I didn't realize the pains that my body felt until they were overwhelming. I didn't "get" the emotions that I felt until I was experiencing a panic attack or depression. I didn't know how to regulate my own emotions, let alone acknowledge or appreciate them. The physical realm was such a pain and a distraction. Why couldn't I just be an intellectual, body-less being? I had disassociated myself from my own body, I think. I was miserable. and confused.
In 2016, I was feeling fragmented and lost. But there was a word of God that sparked hope in me. It was a passage about Messiah's kingdom - "Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine." Ezekiel 47:12
"Their leaves for medicine." I wanted to learn about the medicine of God - his plants and herbs. I wanted to learn how to apply them for healing. I knew that in His Kingdom, this would be done. Could I begin to learn this now, even? I thought it couldn't hurt to try studying to see...
These past two years, I've been studying. I love reading about the properties of an oil, about the structure of the plant and the region where it grows natively. I'm curious to learn how different oils are applied for the treatment of various conditions. Can they bring comfort for this emotion or restoration from this physical issue? It's fun to research and then experiment. How does the oil smell? What does it smell like? How do I feel when I smell it?
I thought that this was an isolated study, just another interest. But I think God is bringing about broader healing for me through this. Finally, I'm beginning to acknowledge my physical self. I'm recognizing that I experience emotions and physical sensations. I have a physical and emotional self - how are they feeling? How do my body and emotions communicate with me? Perhaps it's not as direct as the way that my mind communicates with me. My emotions may communicate through a tightness in my stomach - am I feeling fearful? Or atighness in my neck - am I feeling frustrated? What about the pains I get in other parts of my body - might my body be expressing things that my minds needs to address? And through this, I am seeing myself as more of a whole - body, emotions, mind, soul, spirit - all of which are one body, made in the image of God. I am a physical being. I don't have to beat myself up or consign myself to pain. I can reach out toward myself with open eyes to see these deeper parts of myself and care for them as I care for my thoughts. I can reach out toward God and share this being with Him - feelings, physicality, thoughts, and all.
"Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good." Genesis 1:31
Through these simple moments, I'm building an emotional awareness of myself. I'm acknowledging my feelings and my physical being. How do I feel? What does my body need? What does my emotional self need? Slowly, I'm growing more aware of my own emotions and physical sensations. Studying and using oils gives me daily exercise in connecting with the whole me. And by doing that, I'm integrating more and more. At a spiritual level, I'm acknowledging the physical and emotional forms as much as my intellectual form. And I offer these more to God in prayer. Before, I had ignored my feelings, repressed them because they hurt. Why would I want to feel this emotion when it hurts so much? But it's by being in the emotion that we know it - know ourselves - and overcome. In the same way, I had ignored my physical body, wishing I didn't have to deal with it. I think I felt so vulnerable, sensitive, and afraid and I didn't know what to do but hide and reject it all together. But I'm beginning to take responsibility for the whole of me - to bring it all under God in gratitude and sometimes confusion but in hope and joy.
I'm paying more attention now when I'm interested in a certain natural thing - a plant, animal, stone, color, or oil. I'll research it and give myself time to wonder about it. Why am I interested in it? Does it resonate with a certain feeling or experience that I'm facing? Does it give voice to my own emotional and physical experiences? I want to bring these to God for healing. I want to grow into a whole being, a person who honors the physical-emotional-intellectual-spiritua
May God bless us with continued growth and healing as we wait for Him to return and take us home. <3