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How do you feel about fire? Do you light candles or attend bonfires? Obviously! It's an enjoyable experience. Do you make s' mores at this bonfire? Obviously! They are delicious. But do you put the candles next to your curtains or your bonfire under dead trees? Of course not; the fire could spread and cause damage.
We love fire.
For generations, we have used fire as a creative, constructive tool. It has saved people from starvation and hypothermia. The fire built civilizations. All the while, people prevented the fire from destroying the objects civilizations' value. We have firepits for our bonfires and fire alarms for our houses. The government created the fire department and allocated millions of dollars to fire safety. We take every precaution to prevent fire damage.
We fear fire.
How can both be true? Merriam-Webster defines fear in two ways. First, "an unpleasant, often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger." Second, "profound reverence and awe especially toward God." The first definition is scared-fear; the second definition is respectful-fear. We have a respectful-fear of fire.
How does this apply to your body?
Our bodies, like fire, should be respectfully feared. They are a useful tool but can destroy us or those around us if not treated with care. We have to include our emotions, desires, and thoughts, all worthy of fear.
In her book Starving in Search of Me, Marissa LaRocca says the following, "Today, the way I feel about my body is entirely different, my body is a part of me...I feel my own body to be something sacred and worth protecting."
The Bible says the body is the temple of God. "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple." - 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17, ESV Your body is a gift from God and should be respectfully feared just as we fear the Lord.
You might ask, how can a thought harm me? How can a desire get in my way? Why would my emotions deceive me? The world told me my passions are suitable and to "follow my heart." This you're-perfect-the-way-you-are attitude is everywhere.
Brene Brown says, "The truth about who we are lives in our hearts."
Rachel Hollis says, "You are enough."
The world tells us to love our bodies but not to fear them. Society speaks nothing about deceptive emotions, negative thoughts, and illogical desires. In her book, You're Not Enough (And That's Okay), Allie Beth Stuckey describes our self-love driven culture in this way:
"The two key tenets of the cult [of Self-Affirmation] are Authenticity and Autonomy - being true to yourself and maintaining control over your life. Anyone or anything that attempts to limit who you believe you are is immediately categorized as "toxic" and "judgmental" and is thus pushed to the side."
If there is nothing wrong with ourselves, then why are we so unhappy? Is it because "the self can't be both the problem and the solution," as Allie Beth Stuckey says in You're Not Enough (And That's Okay). Maybe it's because we don't respectfully fear our bodies and our feelings.
Not everything from our bodies is constructive, positive, or beneficial to us. By simply recognizing that our thoughts, desires, and emotions can deceive us, we begin to fear our bodies respectfully.
Creating a Firepit
Respectfully fearing myself is like putting a metal ring around my desires. I let my body's systems work but harness them for good. How do we respectfully fear our bodies? What are the metal rings we can put around our fires?
Examine every desire with a cautious lens. Not every desire is going to be beneficial to us. We have to determine what desire will hurt us, benefit us, and choose the one that will help us in the long run. This action becomes more comfortable with time and practice.
Choose activities that are beneficial to our bodies. Does running make your knees hurt? Then you probably shouldn't run. Does eating a whole pizza make you sluggish? Then you probably shouldn't eat an entire pizza. Does journaling help you process your thoughts? You should probably journal more.
Don't allow your emotions to control your actions. People, especially women, let their feelings control everything they do and reap the consequences. Emotions can be deceptive; they can make monsters out of shadows.
Self-care while being self-aware. While self-care is essential, it isn't always beneficial. If you are constantly thinking of yourself and what is best for you, you aren't thinking of those around you. The more focused you are on yourself, the more focus you have on your thoughts, desires, and emotions, and the easier it is to be negatively influenced by them.
Take every piece of advice with a grain of salt. Not every influencer knows your life. What works for them might not work for you. Advice is not one-size-fits-all. That includes this list! These might not be beneficial to you, and that's okay! Find your firepit.
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