The Temple of Motherhood
Motherhood is something I have always dreamed of, something that I knew I wanted, somewhere, along the horizon of my future.
I had always dreamed about the beauty of motherhood, and when I finally experienced it for myself, it was indeed an experience of beauty.
It was mystifying and beautiful to feel a little person wrapped up inside of me, and to speak to little ears that I had not yet seen. It felt ever so tender and loving to carry a little tiny human with me where ever I went, and to have an overwhelming sensation that I was no longer alone, but that I was growing and encasing a forever companion. Little kicks became a part of my evening, and the fluttering of my baby boy became a constant sensation making every day things beautiful all in their own right, because he was there with me.
It felt beautiful to create and carry new life within my body.
I've forever heard the phrase, "Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit." I've heard that, as such, our bodies are to be reverenced. They are the stuff of inherent dignity. Our bodies reflect their creator, our bodies do fearfully wonderfully things, our bodies communicate love, our bodies house the divine.
Recently, I heard someone explain this "temple" in a different way. Yes, our bodies are dwelling places of the transcendent, but how does the temporal meet the divine? In temples. Temples are places of sacrifice.
Temples were built of stone, and saw the slaughtering of animals, and the smoke of burnt sacrifices. Temples saw blood run, and temples saw death. Temples are houses of sacrifice, of man submitting his humanity up onto God, of death being renewed by God's life.
So when this person described the "temple" of our bodies as places of sacrifice and suffering, it transformed my understanding and experience of motherhood. Yes, my body glorifies and speaks of God's beauty and wonder, but it is also within my body that I die to myself, that I sacrifice myself, and I offer up my whole being in an offering.
This temple, in all its gritty glory, is my reality of motherhood.
It is sacrifice to offer up my body, without reserve, for the sake of another person. My body is no longer my own. My body not only housed my baby, nourishing and growing him, but it was the bloody and real and raw vehicle for birthing a human person into the world. Leo experienced the visible world for the first time and took his first breath as he left his first true home, which was me.
It is an offering to nourish my kid as he grows into his little body and learns to eat and sleep for the first time on the outside. It is not fun to breastfeed for hours when I used to be sleeping peacefully without a care in the world. It is not easy to pry my eyes open and sacrifice my own desire for comfort to console a crying human who cannot communicate a single need.
It is a death to myself to put to rest my easy life. The spontaneous shopping trips, exercising whenever I want to, showering alone, and having the ease of being my own person are all things I have to die to. I am no longer alone. My body is no longer my own.
My body is not just a temple for me; my body is a temple of sacrifice for another human, utterly dependent on me and all of my decisions, big and small.
Becoming a mother has made me feel empowered in a way that I did not expect. Stretch marks and fluctuating weight and eye circles aside, I feel proud that my body created, sustained, and birthed another human. I feel more confident and proud of my femininity than I ever have before.
But I feel even more proud of my ability to accept and my role of becoming a living temple for my little boy. I am powerful because I am actively choosing to sacrifice my very own self, the essence of my personhood and physical body, for the sake of someone I love so very much.
For ...."God dwelleth in temples not made by hands."