The Revd Emily Twigg shares her blog on body image, sport and faith!
What’s the most amazing thing that you can do with your body? Maybe you can lick your elbow, do a gymnastics walk-over or are a fantastic shooter in netball? As someone who uses sport to share the Christian faith with children and young people, I’m astounded by what the human body can do! Running super-fast or super far, dancing routines without tripping over their partners’ feet, playing wheelchair rugby which looks quite honestly brutal or balancing on a board on giants waves (a.k.a. surfing!) to name a few!
Often we focus on what our bodies are not, but sport shows us what our bodies can do, sometimes to the extreme! The word ‘sport’ might make you think of smelly school changing rooms, professional athletes at the Olympics or the endless games we can watch on tv, but we often forget that the ability to play sport is a gift from God. He designed our bodies, describing them ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31), but not just because of what they looked like but because of what they can do!
Think of all that is going on inside your body when you’re cycling for example:- the heart is beating faster, blood is pumping around your body, oxygen is going to your muscles to give them energy, they’re contracting and relaxing making you move whilst your eyes are taking note of what is going on around you and your hands are ready to break or change gear when needed! Exhausting! It’s no exaggeration when David says in the Psalms ‘I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful…’ (Psalm 139:14). YOU are!
Sadly for some, sport has become all about winning, even cheating in order to get that top spot. However, Eric Liddell, a Christian runner whose life is portrayed in the film ‘Chariots of fire’ refused to race in the 100m qualifying heats at the 1924 Olympics due to it being on a Sunday. For Eric, it wasn’t about winning, it was about using the gifts God had given him, putting God first and praising Him for his fast ability knowing that when he ran, God was pleased! He is quoted as saying ‘God made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure’.
When you use your body, whether that’s through sport, or other means such as the creative arts God is pleased! But we should thank God for making us this way and also use it to point other people to Him.
To finish, I want to focus on our mind and bodies using a simple mindfulness technique. Sit quietly and take note of;
5 things you can see
4 things you can feel
3 things you can hear
2 things you can smell
1 things you can taste
Let’s praise God for our amazing bodies more often and maybe think about how you might be able to use the example of our incredible bodies as a way to share about Jesus with others.