To my body.

mirror reflection

Dear Body,

I began writing this letter at 3:30 this morning, because what I suddenly ached to tell you could not be concealed for a moment longer.

Since our waltz into womanhood, there has been a strange tension between us. I remember being ambushed by the dreadful understanding that your bushy eyebrows and bushy mane were not exactly attractive.

This had not occurred to me before.

I remember being told at fourteen you were only needed for one thing—to lend yourself sexually to a man. This disturbed me. I stood up for you, maybe sheepishly, but my convictions ran deep. I am thankful for this.

Even with my desire to honor God, a future husband, and you, I have not always had purity leading my intentions. I have edited you, Body, both offline and online, to help me garner attention and popularity.

This is deceit and I have used you.

For some people, confidence dashes through their veins. They speak of being comfortable in their own skin. I thought I was one of those people, but the names I have spoken over you while staring in the mirror say otherwise.

Although you have housed me all my life and will continue to do so until the day I die, I have not always loved you well. In retrospect, this tension has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with me.

Body, I have been wrong. Remarkably wrong. And I am so sorry.

You presented yourself as a mystery to doctors five years ago, and I became angry with you. I stopped taking care of you, because I saw few reasons for me to fix what could not be seen.

I am sorry for neglecting to notice how you give organs and cells and bones a place to be themselves—just as planets whirl in a system entirely of their own.

I am sorry for telling women of their beauty regardless of figure, facial features, or flaws, only to cringe at the sight of your uneven eyes, crowded teeth, bowed legs, and curvy hips. I have asked of you things which you were never meant to fulfill.

All these years, I expected you to be what others told me you should be.

But Body, you are a wonder.

You have been formed by the living God. He hardwired you, placing in you intricacies even educated doctors can't understand. You are nothing less than a dear creation and masterpiece. 

To mock you, dread you, or control you would mean I have done the same to the One who formed you. I am learning to speak words of truth. Please be patient as I try.

I cannot imagine the pressure I have heaped on you through the years.

I have demanded you to be marvelous—worshipping ideals and wanting perfection. I commit now to marvel instead at the Creator, for He is all that is perfect.

You have been gifted to me as my body here on earth. I no longer want to treat you as if you are what matters most in the end. To do so would be unfair.

You are serving your purpose well for me just as you are. You don't need to be the very best in looks or a cover up for my inner self. I need you for as long as I live, but not as much as I need Christ.

I want to tell you, Body, what makes you special to me. Listen closely.

You are beautiful with your dimpled grin, a mark which runs in the family. You are beautiful with your calloused toes, strengthened from dancing. You are beautiful with your poison ivy scars, telling a hilarious story of adventure. You are beautiful with your freckled lips, colored from the Hawaiian sun. You are beautiful with your eyes, shaped to show of your heritage.

It still feels contrived to say, but I will believe it to be true: Body, you are beautiful.

I want to respect and love you better in the days to come, so I may accomplish all God asks of me with strength, passion, and endurance.

Thank you for being mine.

*I am grateful to Aliza Latta, whose post inspired me to write this letter.

Dear Jacob: don't stop looking.

Dear Jacob,

This morning at 9:45, I stepped out of the prayer room and looked beyond the balcony. I am used to shuffling my feet from one place to the next, but this time I decided to stop. I took in as many sights and sounds as I could in my three minutes of spare time.

I really looked. 

Do you know what I saw? I saw plumeria trees with missing leaves, jet skiers in the ocean to my right, palm trees taller than any Lego tower ever created, and window panes reflecting the sun at the perfect angle.

And what did I hear? I heard birds warbling, a speaker passionately teaching a class of missionaries, and lawn mowers chomping up campus grass.

Getting to sort through the different scenes around me was a blast. 

While taking in my surroundings, I began to silently cry. I know you have seen Sissy shed tears many times so it probably does not come as a surprise to you.

I don't appreciate what God has created nearly enough. You and I have been given senses—the ones you learned all about in a homeschool science class—and they are a real gift. They allow us to enjoy people and food and nature and much more. I think we forget that many times.

I love getting to hunt for beauty around me and hold it closely. 

I am sure it is different for ten year old boys. But I know God cares so much about you that He has created things for you to enjoy, too. What are those things for you? 

On my walk to the coffee shop where I am writing this, I was thinking about the timeline of your life so far. You've already moved five times in your ten years here. Unlike some other kids your age, you've been exposed to a constant change of surroundings and surely have felt the impact of transition.

This has caused you to see a lot, and that is really special.

Jacob, you see things through God's special glasses. Think of them like hi-tech spy gadgets. You see the good all around youin people and in situations. For years now, you have been telling me how beautiful I am no matter how I feel or what I think I look like. My roommate April would call that "calling out the gold" — something you do really, really well. 

Don't stop looking, buddy. 

Whether you're detecting cumulonimbus clouds on a Tuesday or listening to Bible verses playing on my purple boombox, keep learning. Keep track of what catches your eye, what you want to know more about, what you hear and what means most to you.

At ten years old, go wild in your dreams with God.

Use those eyes to look around for the people who need a friend. Be the one who knows their favourite trading card and frozen yogurt topping from Menchie's because you're the one who pays attention. Believe the best about others and give them that high five when you sense they need one.  

Our surroundings change, but there is always something we can do, learn, say, see, or enjoy.

You know that I sometimes struggle to remember things. It is a symptom of the sickness I have. So I tell people I collect memories and I hold everything closely by writing and photographing. On the hard days, it helps me remember what I have seen and heard and been surrounded by. It reminds me that God is a good, generous Dad.

He gives us many opportunities to find His blessings. It's like a lifelong scavenger hunt that we've been invited into.

We will always find the good as long as we are seeking after Him. 

So keep looking, J. Look long and hard.

You have been given special eyes to see the way bugs crawl and Legos interlock and people need love. And in my opinion, they are some of the coolest eyes you can have.

I love you always,