Embodied: My Body Reminds Me

Your body is a marvel. A wonder. A complex and intricate, one-of-a-kind masterpiece created by the same hands that stretched out the heavens, numbering and naming the stars. Equal parts precision machine and work of art, if we took the time to consider all that is going on beneath our skin in a given moment, we would undoubtedly be overwhelmed. 

As the author of The Body: A Guide for Occupants wrote, 

We pass our existence within this warm wobble of flesh and yet take it almost entirely for granted. How many among us know even roughly where the spleen is or what it does? Or the difference between tendons and ligaments? Or what our lymph nodes are up to? How many times a day do you suppose you blink? Five hundred? A thousand? You’ve no idea, of course. Well, you blink fourteen thousand times a day—so much that your eyes are shut for twenty-three minutes of every waking day. Yet you never have to think about it, because every second of every day your body undertakes a literally unquantifiable number of tasks—a quadrillion, a nonillion, a quindecillion, a vigintillion (these are actual measures), at all events some number vastly beyond imagining—without requiring an instant of your attention.1

A wonder indeed! And one we don’t consider nearly enough. 

For the past week here on the blog, inspired by the latest season of The Deep Well with Erin Davis, we’ve been considering what it means that God created us as embodied beings. We’re asking Him what He wants to teach us about glorifying Him with our bodies. Perhaps, like me, you’re seeing your body in a new way for the first time . . . from the micro (I didn’t even know “vigintillion” was a word) to the macro, as we ponder what our bodies mean as a part of Jesus’ Body, His Church. 

My takeaway is simple—as easy as looking in a mirror: one reason God gave us bodies is to help us remember

6 Things My Body Reminds Me

As much as I don’t care to think about every microscopic process going on in my body at this moment, like the fact that 

every day, it has been estimated, between one and five of your cells turn cancerous, and your immune system captures and kills them. Think of that. A couple of dozen times a week, well over a thousand times a year, you get the most dreaded disease of our age, and each time your body saves you.2

However, every day as I live within my body, care for it, and consider my reflection in the mirror, I am faced with a series of undeniable realities. 

1. My body reminds me that I need nourishment. 

From the moment my feet hit the carpet in the morning, I can’t wait to taste the dark, warm sweetness of my first cup of coffee. Coffee leads to breakfast. Before you know it, it’s lunch. An afternoon snack (popcorn is perfect), then it’s almost time for dinner, after which I look forward to a nighttime snack. 

While some of this routine exists simply because food and drink are good gifts from God that I enjoy, the current running beneath it all is the reality that my body needs nourishment. Eating in itself is not sacred, but as every four to six hours I come to the table, I acknowledge my neediness—my utter dependency on the Lord to provide my next meal and to transfer its nutrients and goodness to my body. 

My physical hunger and thirst is a reminder of a spiritual reality too . . . “Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). Physical food is not enough. Spiritual food is the only cure for true hunger. 

2. My body reminds me that I need rest. 

I have struggled with a variety of sleep-related ailments since childhood, which is probably why I’ve often viewed sleep as a wrestling match to be won by chokehold rather than the heaven-sent respite from the day’s trouble as my husband (and most of the world) seems to view it. The truth remains: we need rest. I need rest. 

As I view my tired eyes in the mirror or find myself nodding off in front of my computer for the (ahem) third time today, I’m reminded that my need for sleep is not incidental, nor is it optional. I can wear sleeplessness as a badge of honor or push through my days with steely determination—but only for so long. Eventually, I too must succumb to the human condition and acknowledge sleep for the gift that it is. As we read in Psalm 127:2, 

In vain you get up early and stay up late,
working hard to have enough food—
yes, he gives sleep to the one he loves.

I am still in the process of learning that the seventeen or eighteen hours of wakefulness He has given me must be enough to accomplish all that He has for me to do. And I can rest assured that God does not need my assistance in His sovereign oversight of the universe, day or night.

3. My body reminds me that I am fruitful. 

I’m thankful that my body doesn’t only remind me of things I need or lack, but also of the good gifts God has given. Growing six little (now not so little!) humans in my womb and watching them stretch toward and into adulthood is one of the best gifts of all. 

Too often we mothers see the extra pounds, the bumps here and lumps there, the fact that clothes don’t fit like they used to as a source of shame. But rarely do we look at ourselves straight on and rejoice that we had the opportunity to participate in the wonderful, mysterious, miraculous work of God knitting together a baby inside of us. 

As I consider my physical “fruit,” I’m reminded that God has also given humans the unique capacity for spiritual fruitfulness, offering opportunities to multiply His kingdom in even more miraculous ways: serving as “labor coaches” in the rebirth of sinners as children of His glorious light.

4. My body reminds me that I have scars. 

Our scars tell stories. If you were to examine mine, you’d find the one from when I was three and fell off a bench in the locker room after swimming lessons, gashing my chin. Being carried across the street to the local hospital for stitches is one of my only memories of my biological dad who died of a brain tumor just two years later. 

You’d find the scar streaking across my right eyebrow, the result of a terrifying car accident in whiteout conditions. As ten-year-old-me stood in shock on the side of the highway being pelted by snow in the blistering cold, my mind’s eye recorded every detail, the catalyst to a battle with anxiety the Lord would lead me through in decades to come. 

And you’d find the six-inch scar down my lower back—a testament to God’s goodness in providing a surgeon’s steady hand to fuse together my spine and his protection when complications resulted in a life-threatening pulmonary embolism days later. 

It’s a comfort knowing that even after Jesus’ resurrection, His scars remained (John 20:25, 27). Our scars don’t go away either, but remain etched upon our skin, each one an opportunity to share stories of His work in our lives with others. 

5. My body reminds me that I am broken. 

Over the years, in addition to the usual illnesses and allergies, I’ve experienced the physical effects of depression and anxiety. I’ve listened to story after story from my husband, a school administrator, about the increasing number of children every year who find themselves crippled by anxiety or fear, unable to go about the normal activities of the school day. 

We all know people who are living through physical horror stories of their own—bodies shriveling from the effects of ALS, friends with terminal cancer diagnoses, and autoimmune diseases running rampant, just to name a few. If humanity’s great hope is the ability of the human body and mind to improve from generation to generation, sore disappointment is in order. The truth is, we are not getting any better. Our bodies and minds were not created to bear the weight of sin, and as a result, we live in a constant race against our own decay. Creation groans (Rom. 8:22), and we groan right along with it. 

6. My body reminds me that I am finite.

I cannot look in the mirror without being reminded that just as God “set a limit for the sea so that the waters would not violate his command” and “laid out the foundations of the earth” (Prov. 8:29), so too He gave me borders—a body. When God created you, He said, “This far and no farther” too. 

God gave us bodies lest we forget that we are not unlimited. We cannot operate outside of space and time. We are confined, as it is, to one life in this “tent” while we long for our heavenly dwelling (2 Cor. 5:1–2). This “confinement” reminds me of perhaps the greatest truth of all: He is God and I am not. 

The Wonder of It All

Our bodies—magnificent in design and beautiful in form—were created by a God who knew we would need to be reminded that we are not Him. And there is but one solution for the chasm between a holy God and His imperfect people: the God-man who . . . 

  • needed nourishment though He is the Bread of Life. 
  • needed rest though He is the God who never sleeps. 
  • is both the fruitful vine and the Creator of the vineyard. 
  • was broken so we could become whole. 

Consider this:

In the second or so since you started this sentence, your body has made a million red blood cells. They are already speeding around you, coursing through your veins, keeping you alive. Each of those red blood cells will rattle around you about 150,000 times, repeatedly delivering oxygen to your cells, and then, battered and useless, will present itself to other cells to be quietly killed off for the greater good of you.3

And praise the Lord—you don’t have to think about it for a second in order for it to happen. Take a moment to thank God for your body today, for the wonder that it is and the many ways it reminds you that you are the creature and He is the Creator, the Master Craftsman who does all things well. 

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Bill Bryson, The Body: A Guide for Occupants (London: Doubleday, 2022), 4–5.
2 Bill Bryson, The Body, 8–9.
3 Bill Bryson, The Body, 5. 

About the Author

Laura Elliott

Laura Elliott

Born and raised in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Laura Elliott and her husband, Michael, now call Minnesota home. Laura is the mother of five sons and one daughter and serves as the marketing content manager for Revive Our Hearts. In … read more …

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