Eight years ago, a mystery disease caused me to drop weight rapidly. Trip after trip to the doctor, test after test, revealed nothing. I got down to 116 pounds on a six-foot-tall frame, a weight I hadn’t been since my wedding day. (And yes, I was too thin then.) But what surprised me most about this period were the reactions of those around me. “You look so good!” everyone said. “You look healthy!” Only my wise sister-in-law refused to be fooled. “You’re too thin,” she told me, and those words made me want to cry. She saw me. She saw how sick I was, how worried. It felt redemptive.
When the body is sick, the soul often follows. After all, if you hate your body, how can your soul be at peace? It is the rare saint indeed whose soul flourishes at the expense of her body — like St. Rose of Lima who disfigured her face with lye so as to be unattractive to anyone but God. Or St. Alphonsa, who stepped into a fire so as to ruin her feet…and her chances at marriage.
But most of us aren’t Rose or Alphonsa. If our body is hurting, mentally or physically, it can be hard for our souls to be well. The opposite is true, too. A soul in unrest can be mirrored in the frailties of our bodies. Body and soul are connected.
My friend Robyn suffered in silence from bulimia for almost 20 years before she sought help. Then, and only then, was her soul able to heal. Today she writes uplifting, nurturing prose for others who might be trapped in the same condition. Her soul has healed as her body has healed, and now she passes on healing to others.
That brings me to today’s salient message: If you are hurting, body or soul, reach out to someone. Don’t hide in silence. Don’t be ashamed. And even if no one in your life hears you, God always will. Don’t give up — even if your physical condition cannot be improved, at least you have an outlet, a listening ear who cares. Even that — just that — can work miracles in soul-health.
As for me, whatever it was that was troubling me eight years ago quit troubling me. I’m now overweight, and just as unhappy with my body as ever. I know this weighs (no pun intended) on my soul. So I am focusing my light within. Hopefully, as my soul strengthens, my body will, too…or at least I won’t mind so much if it doesn’t.