I have not been gentle with you. I have not treated you softly, or dealt with you kindly. The words I have spoken about you could tear flesh and the thoughts I have had about you could bleed you dry.
I am sorry I learned to hate you. Hate you for the space you take up, when that space was more then I wanted to be. I am sorry I have cursed you, monthly, at the reminder of the unique ability to carry life that I have been given, whether I choose to do so or not.
I have cried in front of mirrors; in dressing rooms; over pictures; at night as I feel the rounded stomach as I lay on my side. There have been moments where my wildest dreams and best hopes rested on changing you.
I am so sorry. I am sorry that I thought that the best way to get me to a place of loving you, required teaching myself to first hate everything about you; to hate it so much that I would change it. I am sorry for the twisted logic that made me think that hating you into being beautiful enough would ever work.
I am sorry I learned to be so ashamed of you. I am sorry for church camps where we were told to raise our hands, spins around, and bend over to make sure you were covered enough. I am sorry that I got used to never having to see you. It’s amazing the distance that can create between too things, isn’t it? I pretended you weren’t there- covering you with T-shirts and wearing jeans to the beach. I treated you like a disease that you hope if you ignore long enough it will go away.
I have hated you, I have starved you, I have denied you sleep and exercise and water. I have run you into the ground, and forced you to move forward when you were screaming at me to rest. And I have refused to go outside and breathe in fresh air when you were begging me for sunlight.
But through all this; through seasons of neglect and scrutiny, you have always stood by me. You have patiently waited for me in this slow long journey of becoming. I had to grow into you, to be as strong as you are. To be as sturdy and loyal as you are. We have come along way, and have further still, but I am learning to be as incredible as you are; to look at this bone, and muscle, and hair, and skin and everything in between that and see a beauty being forged; a whole person made in the image of God.
You are becoming beautiful to me. I take notice now, when you do something amazing. When you hold people well with those arms. When your fingers hold on as I struggle up a rock wall. When your legs carry me just a bit further in a run. When the mind, that belongs to both of us, that can only work while you are healthy and nurtured, births a sentence that feels as precious to me as a child. When your mouth speaks words of love, comfort or encouragement. I notice and catalogue moments where I feel closest to you, most happy and comfortable with you. I notice who I am with, what I am eating or drinking or doing or wearing. I am looking for ways I can take care of you. And I am glad you are patient with me when I fail at it; when I stumble still to love you.
You are becoming beautiful to me. Or maybe, I am becoming something else because you have always been beautiful.
(There are several other beautiful examples of this on the internet. The idea is not mine but is an exercise I picked up from blogger and author Sarah Bessey, you can find her love letter to her body on her blog.)