For several months now my relationship with my body and my fat have retreated in importance – a function of my growing, although certainly not yet fully attained, comfort with and acceptance of my physical self, this fat state of being – so I haven’t written much here because there hasn’t seemed to be much to say. There have been the frustrations, of course – the sprained ankle that’s been slow to heal, and the indignities of trying to seek healing in a medical establishment that overlooks and ignores the needs of large bodies; the humiliation of having to get a boot cast frankensteined together because my healthcare provider couldn’t find a manufactured boot that would fit my wide calf. But besides the ongoing daily body-stuff, I haven’t been doing so much of the ruminating on the experience of a body that is fat; it’s there under the surface always, staining everything I touch, but fading in importance for a while.
Instead lately I’ve been caught up in this – I don’t know quite what to call it. A crisis of faith, maybe, except it’s not my faith that’s being challenged. A crisis of religion is more accurate. For a few years now there’s been the discomfort where the dictates of my conscience grate against the dictates of my religious tradition, and over the past few months it’s become almost unbearable to live with the friction.
So I’m reading, and thinking, and praying, and seeking. There was a long while that I felt like the only Christian who had ever wrestled with these things, doubted the wrongness it seemed everyone else took as given — abortion! homosexuality! evolution! feminism! healthcare reform! — and I wondered if I was some kind of aberration, that I was missing some sort of crucial component that everyone else came wired with. Wondered if that meant I was Not Right With God on a fundamental level. How could I claim to love Jesus yet see the world so differently from all the other Christ-followers I know?
But slowly I began to find them – thanks be to the Internet! – the others like me, who questioned, who saw room for different interpretations. Fred Clark, the progressive evangelical Christian, who is sometimes cynical, critical of American evangelical tribalism, but also full of compassion and love for the poor, the needy, the least of these. Rachel Held Evans, who champions women’s equality in light of the Bible’s mixed messages about the role of women, and who promotes honest, respectful discussion among people from all different belief systems, both within and outside of Christianity. Addie Zierman, who writes so breathtakingly well about dwelling in grace and love within – and despite – Christian culture.
With their help and others’, I’m slowly growing, taking baby steps away from the handrail of the religion I grew up with, feeling a little less alone — trying to depend on God to shape my thinking, trying to be critical where appropriate without having a critical spirit, trying to extend grace to people who believe differently from me, trying to extend grace to myself. Trying to remember that the point of growing is becoming more like Christ, not cramming for a cosmic final exam; that even if I get the answers wrong, I am still beloved.
I may write more about this here as I go. We shall see.