Friday, September 11, 2015

Getting Naked About Body Image: A Reflection on Pregnancy

Two months until due date here!!
The body, and it alone, is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine. It was created to transfer into the visible reality of the world the mystery hidden since time immemorial in God [God’s love for man], and thus to be a sign of it.T.O.B February 20, 1980)

   Before making some sense of St. John Paul II''s Theology of the Body, I had completely bought into the worldly nonsense regarding the(my) body. I was obsessed with the outside. I was very focused on the external. This focus was not one that looked upon the body as a sacred gift from God, but as an object. And while many may complain about being objectified and judged.....I had given permission to lead the way of objectifying myself. These were not good times. 

  I played Varsity soccer throughout University and most of my life was spent in  a competitive atmosphere. Much of this relied upon the condition of "the body". The physical capabilities and disciplines required to sustain one throughout a 90 minute match demanded a certain level of fitness. And though there is nothing wrong with the desire to be fit and healthy, there is also a very fine line before one crosses into the world of vanity. I was dancing all over that line. Indeed it was apparent that I was pretty vain.

  Learning about Theology of the Body and growing to painfully understand God's true design for the body as being created in his image and likeness opened me up to the most beautiful reality and helped to slowly chip away at my false concept of my own self-image. I reconciled myself with the notion that my body had a purpose, one that was in fact quite divine. This main purpose is to glorify God and bring praise to His name. Woah! This was undoubtedly a seemingly tall order, especially when I had spent much of my adolescent and teenage years lurking through the filthy swamp of lust and not the most modest of behaviours!  

  Despite having had a conversion experience and practising chastity prior to marriage I can honestly share that my battles with my own body and sense of recovering God's design for the human body was very difficult. I tried over and over again to detach from my attentiveness to the external aspects of my body. I adopted some good penitential practices of not looking in the mirror for a day, wearing no make-up at all, and fasting as it helped me to grow in this area. I continued to work out but I entered into this in a new and healthier way by combining it with prayer and making this time devotional. 

  Becoming pregnant was my body's way and God's way of truly teaching me everything about it's theology! From the moment of conception I was in constant awareness of God's majesty and the body's divine purpose in a way that I had never experienced. I was not in control. I had never really been in control anyway, but pregnancy awakened me to this reality in the most radical of ways. I was able to understand that the body, as St. John Paul II states is truly capable of "making visible what is invisible".Pregnancy reveals this mystery in a way like nothing else can. As my pregnancy progressed the visible reality of God's invisible reality manifested. My pregnant body was a walking billboard promoting the miraculous handiwork of God. I was expanding quite literally and spiritually during this process. I was blessed with a pleasant pregnancy and remained quite active and mobile during this time and it allowed me more reason to be in further awe of God and in praise of him for this blessing.  

  Enduring labour brought out the most beautiful and important lessons about the body to me. It was during this process that I was fully able to comprehend my body's purpose as a gift from God. I was able to experience God's providence and consolation as I partook in transferring this once hidden life within me into the visible reality of the world. 

  Giving birth healed me. It allowed for me to affirm the fact that my body is not my own. It is created for a purpose by a God who loves each one of us.

  We are called to safeguard the hidden mystery by carrying ourselves with dignity and revealing what can be seen with reverence and modesty.

Read More about my birth story here . 

Catherine Spada is a Public Middle School educator and is currently loving her new role as a full-time mom. She enjoys giving presentations on chastity and sharing the beauty of the faith through her blog entitled Sacred Sharings for The Soul. Catherine resides outside of Toronto with her husband and beautiful baby girl. Blog Twitter      

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