I had a realization on Saturday. It didn't come about in a great way, but it was a great thing nonetheless.
India was running around naked, like she does pretty much every morning taking forty-five minutes to get dressed when it should take her five, when out of the blue I heard her crying and saying awful things. She walked into my bedroom and said, "Momma, I hate my legs. Look at them. They're so fat and they jiggle when I walk."
My first response was to tell her how ridiculous that was. India is all skin and bones, and for awhile I worried about her being underweight, so the idea of her legs being "fat" was hilarious. But, I realized that the last thing I wanted to do was to feed into this idea that her body has to look a certain way, and that if it does, it's good, and if it doesn't that's bad. So I thought of Anne Lamott and her thighs and how she calls them her aunts and says sweet things to them, and I told India, "Baby, you have a beautiful body with legs that are strong and healthy and take you where you need to go. You tell those legs of yours, 'Legs, I like you. You are good legs. Thanks for being a part of my body.'"
She thought that was pretty funny and we talked to her body awhile and we giggled about it, and I asked her where in the world she had heard such silly talk about her legs being jiggly and fat. She couldn't remember, and really, who can say? The girls at her school, her friends, some woman in the locker room? I don't know, but what I do know, and what I realized is that she has never heard that kind of talk from me, because... I like my body. I do. I think it's great. I thoroughly enjoy it, and man alive, it feels good to know that.
One of the funny side affects of having a baby was that after, when I still had large breasts and a round tummy and round arms and round everything, I started loving my body and feeling good in it in a way that I never had when I was skinnier. I loved it because it felt like my friend. It had given me a daughter, it took me through labour, it was stronger and tougher than I ever would have guessed.
But then, of course, when my marriage fell apart I forgot I had a body, and then I hated my body, and then I took pleasure in being mean to it, and watching it shrink, and feeling it starve. Weird. And sad. And scary. I know. But the truth.
And then, things changed again. I survived the loss of my husband, I survived being alone, being sick, losing my home, being a mom, getting on with life, rethinking my body. And so, I find myself here, a few years later, and realize that I have not once said something ugly about my body or anyone else's body to my daughter, and that generally speaking I feel good about it despite its imperfections.
Hospitality as a fruit of the Spirit is providing a safe place for hearts to rest inside. My heart is a home to my body. It can be a place of hostility or hospitality: forgiving weaknesses, overlooking flaws, enjoying the beautiful, providing a safe place to rest inside. I live in a good house. I know it. And that is such a good thing.