Hi friends and welcome to the Arise, Beloved blog. We have an amazing team of writers behind this blog and our desire is to speak truth into the lies that cripple us and shine light into the darkness that isolates us because we believe that now, more than ever, the Church desperately needs women to be restored so that the world can be set ablaze. Our hope is that you find comfort, solace, and peace in knowing that you are not alone, you are not too far gone and there is ALWAYS hope to be found.
I have an intense healthcare routine. As someone struggles with severe atopic dermatitis, an inflammatory skin condition more commonly known as eczema, my skin is almost always on my mind.
Because of my skin, I take an injection medication every two weeks, I’m on a strict anti-inflammatory diet, I take a bunch of different dietary supplements, and I have an intense skincare regimen for my face and body that includes gentle cleansers, multiple serums, face masks, and lots of moisturizer. Not to mention I always carry ibuprofen and Zyrtec in my bag in case of a flareup, and my weekends include lots of long dead sea salt baths.
It’s a doozy – to say the least.
For a long time, I had a constant, creeping guilt about taking care of my body. Part of me felt vain for needing to do all these things, but the moment I would stop I would have intense flareups that I didn’t know how to live with. I was constantly angry at my body, and though I wouldn’t admit it, I was angry at God.
Through many tears and many hours in prayer, I have grown to accept my body and who I am. While I still struggle and continue to fight for healthier skin, and some days are better than others, I have started different practices to accept where I am at no matter if my skin is calm or flaring.
When striving to find peace with our bodies, the main thing to remember is that it is not a question of when I am where I want to be, but rather accepting where we are at now in order to truly recall the dignity that God fashioned us in.
We are reminded by Saints and scholars to invite the Lord into every part of our life. Often, however, we forget to invite the Lord into our daily wellness routines – other than perhaps a half-hearted prayer before meals. Something I have found particularly beautiful is inviting the Lord into my morning and night skincare routines. With each step, I will say a short prayer. Here are some examples of little prayers you can say as you walk through your own skincare:
Cleansing – Lord, as I cleanse my face, please cleanse my soul from the impurities and burdens of today.
Exfoliator – Lord, as I use this exfoliator to soften my skin, please soften my heart to listen to your Word.
Serum – Lord, as this serum penetrates my face with good ingredients, please penetrate my own heart with your radiance and goodness.
Medicated Ointment – Lord, as I use this cream to heal my skin, please help me to forgive those who have hurt me.
Moisturizer – Lord, as I use this moisturizer to hydrate my skin, please refresh and strengthen my trust in You.
SPF – Lord, as this sunscreen protects my face today, please protect my heart and soul from the torments of the devil who tries to make me stray from You.
We can also invite the Lord into other aspects of our wellness. For example, praying as we go grocery shopping to find the best foods to nourish our body, or doing a workout rosary such as through a program like SoulCore. (soulcore.com) Lastly, giving thanks to God throughout our day for all the small blessings He bestows on us, especially through our senses, is a wonderful way to unite our body and soul with His goodness.
When I was a kid, I would often come into the kitchen whining to my mom to tell her I was starving. I would pull at her shirt and beg her to tell me when dinner would be ready. My mother, in her Martha-inspired spirituality, would tell me with a twinkle in her eye that instead of sitting around and complaining, I should ask “¿Como te puedo ayudar?” (How can I help you?) so that we could eat faster. Then, once I did that, she would thank me and ask me to set the table or to measure the rice for arroz con pollo.
In her wisdom, my mother was teaching me to not just sit around waiting for things I wanted to happen, and instead take an active part in the process. Similarly, while we live in the hope for healing and for God to answer our prayers, we shouldn’t just sit around passively waiting as if the Lord is our wish-granting genie. Instead, in prayer, we should ask the Lord How can I help you? How can I be a part of Your plan for me? Who can I bear witness to today for You, how can I spread the message of your goodness?
This is different than just “taking action” because we think that prayer is not “enough” – quite the contrary, actually, prayer is always enough. But because we can get a bit antsy in anticipation of the Lord’s answers, asking him to reveal to us what we can do while we wait in hope is a beautiful way to take an active part in His will.
There is no tougher critic of ourselves than our inner monologue. Isn’t it funny how easy is it for us to want to care for others, tell them they are worthy of love, smile at them, when it is impossible for us to do the same for ourselves? How often do we look in the mirror and pick apart our appearance, or overthink something we said in a conversation? I will be the first to admit I do this far too often. But one of the most healing things we can do to find peace with our body and who we are is to forgive ourselves. A recent study found that forgiveness almost completely eliminated the link between stress and mental illness.1
Words have power. Even looking in a mirror and repeating “I forgive myself” can change one’s mentality. I encourage you to take time today to do this exercise – before you go to bed, look in your mirror and forgive yourself out loud for the things you do not like about yourself, be it of your body or of your personality.
Finding peace with our body is a lifelong journey. There will be days that we feel like we are on top of the world, and days where we feel defeated. But with gratitude and welcoming the Lord into our daily life, we can begin to accept ourselves and recognize the dignity that God has given us – body and soul.
1 Forgiveness can improve mental and physical health – https://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/01/ce-corner