The new year did not start how I would have liked it to. By day two, I was headed to the west side of town to see a periodontist for a crown lengthening, a surgery where my gums would be cut and restructured in order to reveal the lower part of my tooth. Since one of my teeth had chipped below the gum line, my regular dentist referred me to a periodontist for this surgery so that my tooth could later be fitted for a crown.
As I headed for my appointment, I found myself giving in to discouragement. No matter how hard I tried, it seemed like my attempts to take care of myself were never good enough, especially when it came to my teeth. My past “sins” of poor dental hygiene kept haunting me. What was even the point in trying?
I sensed God reminding me in that moment that it mattered because I was His temple. It mattered because His Holy Spirit lived in me.
My parents had just arrived in town the night before my crown lengthening procedure. It was horrible timing since their visit was going to be so short. I couldn’t help but feel disappointed that their visit had to start out like this. Nonetheless, my mom told me what a good hostess I had been a couple of times as their visit was drawing to an end. She and my dad had felt like royalty while they were here. It was almost too much for them to bear!
I’m glad my parents had such a good time. I had been intentional in trying to make them feel comfortable and cared for while here. It is something I strive to do with all of my guests. If someone is going to visit us, then I want them to know how much we appreciate their taking the effort to come and see us. And I want to make our home a place to which they would be happy to return.
Not only do I strive to make our home a comfortable place for guests, but I am continually trying to make it a cozy home for my family as well (which is a lot harder than hosting guests!). I want this place to be one in which people feel safe and at peace, and I want people to sense God’s presence here.
If I can feel that passionate about making my physical address a cozy haven where people would feel welcome and sense God’s presence , then how much more important is it that I would make the Holy Spirit’s dwelling place a place where He would feel welcome and where people would sense His presence!
As I made the long trip to my appointment, I realized that tending to my health was an act of worship. Just as I try to make my guests and family feel valued in our home, I show God I value and love Him by taking care of the very place where His presence dwells. And if I want God’s presence to be seen through me, then I need to constantly recognize that I am His temple and take care of this dwelling so that He can shine through me and use me however He pleases.
Something else I was reminded of on my drive to my appointment that morning was that my body is a gift from God.
Years ago, I gave my Aunt Mary and her family a set of mugs I had collected when I was living in Mexico. I knew they didn’t have many mugs from a previous visit, but I also knew they didn’t want to spend the money to buy any when they had more pressing needs. With that in mind, I decided to give them some of my mugs. I had way too many as it was.
During our next visit several months later, I presented them with a box full of mugs. Although that was years ago, I still smile thinking about it today. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a group of people as appreciative or delighted over a hand-me-down gift as my aunt, uncle, and cousin were that day. They acted like I had just given them fine china!
My Aunt Mary quickly snatched up one mug in particular and told her family that no one was going to use it. She found it to be so beautiful that she was going to put it on the mantel place so that everyone could admire it!
Seeing how my Aunt Mary and her family reacted to my simple gift made me want to give them even more gifts. Seeing their deep appreciation for the mugs was such a gift to me. It gave me a huge sense of satisfaction.
There is something delightful in seeing someone truly appreciate and take care of a gift you give them.
I wish I could say the same of the gifts I have given my son. My husband JJ and I recently gave Liam a toy tool set for Christmas. He liked it, but he broke the hammer immediately and then started shoving all of the tools and tiny pieces that came with the set off of the tool table and onto the floor.
JJ and I aren’t going to stop giving him gifts because he doesn’t take care of them. After all, he isn’t even two yet! At the same time, there are gifts that I would like to give him but know that I cannot yet because he will not appreciate them or take care of them like he would need to if he were to own them. I also do not feel inclined to give him a lot of gifts at this point when I know that the majority of them will probably end up lost or broken somewhere down the road.
I don’t think about the fact that my body is a gift from God very often, but I can see how beneficial it would be if I did. To start, we know from the book of James that
Every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights…”James 1:17, ESV
If I were to truly let these truths sink into my heart that my body is a gift from God and that every gift He gives is good and perfect, then how much would that change the way I think about myself? I know for one that I would probably weigh myself less and feel less discontented with my appearance in general. I imagine I would experience freedom in ways I have never experienced before as well. And perhaps I would also help other women to live in that same freedom that Jesus has wanted us to have all along.
Ultimately, although my body is a gift from God to me, something I recognize is that it is not my own. He has given it to me as a good and perfect gift from Him, but His purpose in this is for me is to be a good steward of it. I am to take care of it as best as I can as an act of worship to Him and in appreciation of this good gift He has given me. Nonetheless, it will continue to break down and wear out with time, no matter how well I take care of it.
Even so, this truth does not have to dishearten me, because this body is only my temporary home. It is but a humble tent awaiting to be exchanged for something far more magnificent and glorious.
For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.”2 Corinthians 5:2-4, ESV