I Will Rejoice and Be Glad
By Carolyn Allen

I hope you had a chance to read last week’s article about singing sensation Karen Carpenter.  She passed away at age 33 from Anorexia Nervosa.  (If not, CLICK HERE)  Many of us, though we may not suffer from the disease itself, suffer from the inability to accept the body types and shapes that house our eternal spirits.

Today’s Scripture:  “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

Several years ago our neighborhood watched a favorite friend, a kindergarten teacher, lose over 55 pounds.  Shannon had been overweight from early adolescence. 

“From the time I was a teenager I thought that because I come from a family of big-boned, large-busted, wide-shouldered women — and would never be a California girl —  that somehow it wasn’t worth the effort to take control of my weight.  It doesn’t’ make sense, I know, but that’s how I felt, so that’s how I lived.”  Her turning point came when she started experiencing knee and joint pain in her mid-40’s.  “It wasn’t a matter of how I looked, it was a matter of keeping up with my own children, and all my little students at school.”

When she reached the half-way mark, down just under 30 pounds, she announced to her husband, “George, I’ve lost a toddler!”

He was quite concerned, thinking their 2 year old had gotten lost.  She quickly and enthusiastically reassured him that their child was just fine, but that it was her extra human weight that was now permanently gone from their family.

I’m one toddler down — and one to go!”  As she showed him the extra folds of fabric in her way-too-big shirt, she asked, “Can you imagine how I’ll look when I’ve lost it all?”

“Hon,” he responded, I love you no matter what you weigh, but it’ll sure be fun to find out.”

It was indeed fun to find out as she very, very slowly lost the rest.  Though extremely frustrating at the time, the six or seven months it took gave her the opportunity to prayerfully accept her own body type and shape. 

Her body type required a trip to her doctor to confirm that a healthy weight for her was 5-8 pounds above the written norm — and a little more time to emotionally accept that that was A-OK.

It’s now six years later and she continues to keep it off.  It’s not easy — but she does it! One day, one meal, one bite at a time.

Her counsel is wonderful:  “Don’t let your body type destroy what is your right: to achieve and maintain a healthy weight!  I’m still big-boned, large-busted and wide shouldered, but I look great, feel great and have established something priceless for myself and my own daughter (now 14) who’s inherited the same body type. We have every right to celebrate our body type as other women with different types!”

It is a joy to find a mentor and an example like Shannon .  Finding that peace with your own body is easier said than done, of course, so how do we accept our own body types and thus find joy in caring for them?

Health writer I. Kvetka at eHow.com says:

Acceptance is the act of embracing what life presents to you with a good attitude. For many people, their body is the target for their harshest judgments and the barometer by which they measure their self-worth. Since your physical shape is the form in which you show up in the world, it is very often the way you define yourself and often the way others define you. There is much documented proof that the mind and the body are connected, so acceptance of your body is not only essential for your emotional well-being, it is essential for your physical health, as well. You know you are moving in the right direction, when you can accept your body exactly as it is in its present form.

Does this mean that you should never endeavor to improve your body? Of course not. It is perfectly natural and human to want to be at your physical best. What this does mean, however, is that you need to stop criticizing, judging, or finding fault with your body even when you are not at your healthiest or most attractive. Acceptance or rejection of your body only carries weight in your mind. You can make the very subtle but powerful mental shift into acceptance.

One of the most important ways to find peace through acceptance is to identify what stands in your way, your weakness.  Putting it out on paper:  the physical characteristics that frustrate and inhibit your ability to accept yourself, such as your lack of height, large bone-size/frame (which was Karen Carpenter’s lament) over-sized hips from Grandma Jones, pear-shape, etc.  By acknowledging the limiting belief that you have about your self, you can than move to the second step: to search your soul for a deeper core connection with who you really are.

What joy there is in finding the strength to do this through the scriptures!

“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” Ether 12:27

When those weaknesses are made manifest, we can humbly say, as the young boy Samuel did, “”Speak, lord; for thy Servant heareth.’  I Samuel 3;9

With that humble acceptance will come, as it did for Shannon , the blessing of  God-given affection and respect for your mortal body as a temple to house your eternal spirit.

Kvetka continues:   “To respect your body means to hold it in high regard and honor it. Respect is treating your body with the same care you would give any other valuable irreplaceable object. Learning to respect your body is vital. Treat your body as a structure worthy of respect and it will respond in kind. Abuse or ignore it and it will break down in various ways. Listen your body and its wisdom; it will tell you what it needs if you ask, listen and take heed. It will give a lightness to your heart and do wonders for your soul.

Another scriptural way to accept your body is simply to memorize today’s scriptures”  Today’s scripture:  “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

Elder Marvin J. Ashton often shared the story of a little boy who, though full of the dickens, told his teacher I know I’m somebody cause God don’t make no junk”.

So, while this the day the Lord has made, so is your body, something special that the Lord hath made.  While it may not be the one you’d choose if given a catalog, nevertheless, it is the one that He has made FOR you!  We can rejoice and be glad in that, even as we find joy and rejoicing in the other things he has made.

Though it’s easy, and even important, to make a list of the shortcomings your physical body presents, it’s much more beneficial to make a list of all the things it can and does do for you each day – even a handicapped body that is in a wheel chair, or one that cannot exercise or participate fully.

  You can, breathe, read, talk, see, hear, listen, smell, taste, love, laugh – not matter WHAT your body type is, or WHAT you may currently weigh.  Is that not something to rejoice and be glad about?  That literally carries weight and brings confidence and value for health choices to make this very moment and day?

I believe our Heavenly Father rejoices and is glad when we come to Him for help in accepting that which he has made … and then, with his love, move on to filling the measure of our creation with the health and energy that is the natural consequence of treating ourselves with respect through smart food and exercise choices – no matter what our body type or current weight is!  In fact, it just may be that our body types were given to us as weaknesses, so that we could and would turn to him as an opportunity for us to become closer and more dependent upon His grace, which is suffficent for all …

Indeed, we will rejoice and be glad .. no matter our body shape or type.