Day 8: Rejoicing in the Body (From a Man's Perspective)
Editor’s Note: TOB is the abbreviation for Pope St. John Paul II’s book “Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body” Pauline Press 'This is the body: a witness to creation as a fundamental gift, and therefore a witness to Love as the source from which this same giving springs' (TOB 14:4).
In 2010, long before I knew anything about Living Waters or Theology of the Body, I started experiencing symptoms that I now know to be an autoimmune disease. The routine of frequent doctor visits and thousands of dollars spent for band-aid treatments gave me a distorted lens on my reality, my identity, and tempted me to think that I was abandoned by God.
Not long into my futile efforts to find a cure, I realized I made a dark altar, an idol of sorts in my pursuit of better health. I would cry out to God but still felt like I was alone on an island. In my pain and distress, I began to seek out false gods to fulfill sexual desires. In trying to ease the pain, I created more pain.
Now I know I am made in the image of God, which means self-giving love; men and women who offer themselves for the others’ good, especially in His church. I also believe, like you, that God wanted to heal me. But He invited me first to give myself fully to Himself and His Bride.
I confess that I blocked my own healing journey by not surrendering humbly and lovingly to God and allowing Him to intervene. But since attending Living Waters, I discovered afresh how God heals us as we surrender to Him and become healing agents for each other. Living Waters activated me to open and pour out my heart in confession and to contend in prayer for others; Jesus used this group to quicken me to live freely as the gift that He created me to be. His healing love poured through this gift to others, even as I received that love.
My healing, like yours, is an ongoing journey; through His love, my mind has been transformed and I’ve made huge progress: mental clarity, decreased inflammation, and (ballpark estimate) 90% less symptoms that kept me away from everyday life. It is only by the grace of God that I can sit here and type this—there’s power in His blood. Glory to Him!
God gave Himself and continues to give Himself fully to us, gracing us with a chance at redeeming our bodies—pure gift. How do you react when you are offered a gift? Do you open it and think of the other gifts you could have received, or do you fully embrace and cherish the gesture, giving thanks to the giver? Both Living Waters and Theology of the Body have helped me to realize that my body is a gift and a vessel through which Jesus will heal His church. I’m thankful for this body, rejoicing in His plan of redeeming me and redeeming through me.
‘Jesus, rouse the gift we are. Help us to attend to the treasure you summon from the trash. Free us from our constant faultfinding and free us for vestiges of paradise in our memories and in our lives today. We refuse the liar who tries to rewrite Eden out of our histories. Unite us to the home of our original dignity.’
‘Jesus, have mercy on us as Your Church. We have abused weaker members, including children, and protected ourselves. We have violated the most vulnerable. In Your mercy, free us to superabound with justice. Grant us Kingdom discernment and courage to reform ourselves. May our repentance grant us Kingdom authority to strengthen the weak, discipline violators, and restore the violated.’