The annual Thanksgiving holiday is fast at our heels prompting our thoughts to turn to the things for which we are most grateful. Many of us can easily rattle off a dozen things for which we are thankful from family, to friends, or having a job in a bad economy. But have you ever given thanks for your body?
Our bodies are amazingly complex far beyond the elements of each cell, functionally interconnected, intricately weaved together, and completely unique from anyone else. We have legs that walk miles (in the snow, barefoot, uphill both ways), arms that hug the ones we love, and hands that write inspiring poetry. We are able to experience life in five different physical dimensions through the senses of smell, touch, hearing, taste, and sight. We have a mind that not only subconsciously interprets the sensations we experience but that is able to imagine and create things that did not previously exist like art, music and buildings. We have emotions that allow us to feel love, hurt, joy, sorrow, peace, and hope. We have memory for without which we would not be able to learn or relive the gift of days gone by. There are about five thousand languages in the world and only human beings can acquire those languages for which we are able to speak words of love, sing songs of joy, and share information from generation to generation. Our bodies are a wonderland.
Yet, with the barrage of airbrushed media images we are almost always more critical of our body image and the way we look than we ever are thankful. We think about what we don’t have rather than what we do have. We critically focus on the dimples on our cheeks (and I’m not talking about the cute ones on our face). We think about not being able to fit into our “skinny” jeans. We think about the aches and pains we feel when we get out of bed. We think about how others are faster and stronger than us. We think about how our teeth aren’t white enough, our skin isn’t smooth enough, and our hair isn’t shiny enough. Our focus lies almost entirely on the physical beauty or perceived lack thereof rather than the miracle of the intricate weaving of thousands of miles of blood vessels and the complexity of trillions of cells. Perhaps this is the problem. If we are not thankful for the body we have, then why would we try to improve it?
If you were truly thankful for your amazing body, would you poison it with chemicals from processed foods?
If you were truly thankful for your amazing body, would you give in to the temptation of a sedentary lifestyle?
If you were truly thankful for your amazing body, would you deny it the sleep it needs in order to stay up late watching a reality show?
Do you realize that your body will still perform amazing things in an attempt to keep you alive despite your lack of gratitude? Fact: Every pound of fat gained causes your body to make 7 new miles of blood vessels! That means your heart has to pump harder to push the blood through all the extra miles of blood vessels. If you don’t think that’s a big deal, then go out for a 7 mile run right now! Consequently, if you are “only” 10 pounds overweight your heart has to pump blood through an extra 70 miles of blood vessels!
The good news is that this also works in reverse. If you lose a pound of fat, your body will break down and reabsorb the unneeded blood vessels. This should encourage you to be thankful for your body and therefore value how you treat it, as one pound does not seem like a lot to lose, but even that little bit of difference will result in a large benefit for your heart.
When you are thankful for your amazing body and all that it does for you each day, you will value it. Anything with perceived value will be treasured and treated with respect. This value of your body will determine what you put in your mouth and prioritize exercise and rest above fruitless endeavors like TV watching and beer drinking.
Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
-1 Corinthians 12: 15-20
When was the last time you stopped to marvel at the amazing creation that is your body? Think about the following and be thankful for your body:
Wow! And those are just a few of the trillions of miracles that lie within our body each and every day naturally occurring automatically without us having to give a single thought. There are so many more. If that doesn’t make you thankful for your body then I can’t help you. You are a living, breathing, beautiful creation!
While we many not fully understand the microscopic science and wonder of each cell in our body, we can still be grateful for the little things we recognize in our body as summed in this quote: “We're entrusted, each of us, to make the most of this gift which we are granted. I will never look as young, weigh as little or be as tall as I might like. My nose won't be as cute as my best friend's, my teeth straight as my son's, my feet small as my mom's. Truth to tell and for the most part, that's OK by me. What matters is that I am able to tie my shoes in a double knot, and to pull the warm red cap my father gave me over my ears. I can start running, because even if I don't go as fast or far as I would like, I will do it, simply because I can.” Be grateful for your body!