Rebuilding Trust with a Body that gets Sick

Body, I am not afraid of you. I love you. I said this to myself yesterday as my throat tightened with anxiety by the thought of sickness being around every corner these days. A wave of healing came over me.

“God help me not get sick” has been a life-long tune in my head, beginning with my inability to have my plans interrupted and crescendoing with Fibromyalgia’s threat to make every sickness chronic. That tune is especially loud right now as we communally hold the heaviness of the global pandemic, and also because I am running the last leg of an expensive IVF marathon to try to get pregnant. Any type of sickness could sabotage the whole effort.

But lately Jesus has been teaching me to pray this prayer less. In some sense, every time I beg God to not let me get sick, I am communicating to my body that I am scared it will mess things up. And this message, spoken over and over again, can translate: I am scared of you, body.

Three weeks before my wedding day I had multiple rounds of sinus infections and an unknown tooth decay. Pain lasted for a year and a half. The mystery of unrelenting pain during one of the biggest transitions of my life was traumatic. Now every time I have a twinge of pain in my throat or mouth, I panic, fearing that my body and its abnormally loud pain signals will ruin my dreams for the future.

As that trauma resurfaced yesterday I heard Jesus’ invitation to focus on building back broken trust with my body. For too long my body has received the message that it is scary and going to ruin me. I do not want to be afraid of my body – which is myself. I do not want to be afraid of its pain signals or its hard work to fight infections and to keep me alive. I want to trust my body and let it know that it is loved.

I placed my hand on my throat as it tightened and said, “It’s okay, throat. I am not here to tell you to go away or that I am scared of you. I just want to be with you. I am so thankful for you. I welcome you. I love you. And I trust you to do whatever you need to do in this season.”

The muscles in my throat relaxed and I was able to breathe deeply. The pain went away. Trust goes a long way in healing. But had the pain not left, it would still be okay. I do not need to be afraid of my body. I just need to be present to it. For this is how Jesus is with me.

Published by K.Aalseth

Kelly J. Aalseth is the Coordinator for Leadership Development for InterVarsity in Greater Los Angeles. She is an author, coach, preacher, and trainer.

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