Some Thoughts on Being Incarnate

I stumbled across this at Borders a while back, took a picture with the camera in my phone, and then brought it home from the library about a week ago. I recognized the author: someone I loved a million years ago had given me another of her books in high school. Some might think it's unexpected reading material for me. I'm relatively comfortable in my body-- or at least, I really enjoy having a body, which may be unusual in itself. I like stretching and running and playing in waves (all things my body lets me do), and I like fuzzy sweaters and sassy boots (also made possible by being incarnate). But even for me, the subjects of bodies and food are fraught, often feel like landmines.

I think sexuality is the hardest part of body-image-stuff for me. I've always been slim, but I've also been caricature-curvy forever. (My very attractive mother, on the other hand, has the sort of boyish elegant figure that made both Hepburn ladies famous.) I've often felt that being curvy means being presumed promiscuous until proven innocent. I'm fun, and I flirt, and I laugh -- but I've never been anything that comes remotely close to promiscuous.

There are so many reasons not to be comfortable in our bodies.

I'm often embarrassed because I'm thin. In a culture where so many people struggle with their weight, I feel guilty and awkward. (When people ask how I do it, I joke that the women in my family burn extra calories by being really mean. In fact, my mom and I are the only ones who are consistently petite. Rather than a genetic legacy, I think I inherited the Marine perspective that staying fit as we age is expected.)

Though I talk and joke about them, I'm embarrassed about my curves. I was absolutely shamed for growing up, for having an adult body. (It was far more threatening to some people than I understood at the time.) I didn't even have to do anything WITH my curves, just having them was immoral.

When I was in The Process, I could have swapped clothes with any similar-sized 60-year-old, and not had a noticeable change in style. I knew that being young and having a distinctive figure was a liability. Modesty is a must in ministry (a new tongue twister, but true), but my already-confused relationship with my body got worse.

I eat healthy food. I work out regularly. I get enough sleep. For the most part, I like my body. But I don't know how to have a body around other people. These lovely, confident women in all shapes who wear what they want? Amazing to me. I haven't passed self-consciousness yet.

And so, I read Geneen Roth's book, because I thought she might have something to say.

She does. And it's fabulous.

I really want to tell you all about it, but I'm afraid you won't read it if I do. Also, because I think you'll argue with me, and I think she makes her case better than I would. Go read it. Trust me.


  1. I was surprised that this book is a good one!

  2. I'm going through her 6-part online retreat (recorded). I loved the book but read it too fast for it to sink in. Because, it treats things I am terrified to encounter.

    It's a mind blower.

    Thanks for what you shared. hugs

  3. MB, that's exactly why I couldn't give a decent review. The book isn't really about anything she says, it's about all of our own *stuff* that comes up. I'm going to go ahead and hold your retreat in prayer, because that is some major stuff to work with.

    And Jan, I was a little surprised that it was good, too. I will say that I don't know that including "God" in the title is entirely accurate. I think "spirituality" would more accurately convey what she's talking about.


"So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was."
-Saint Molly Ivins