Sunday, 26 July 2015

The Pearl of Great Price - What is it? or rather, Who is it?

In Matthew 12:44-46 you'll find two quick little parallel parables - the parable of the hidden treasure and the parable of the pearl of great price. The titles are almost as long as the parables themselves!
via Wikimedia Commons

Let's read:
44 The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
So this is the part where the preacher normally says something about how this kingdom, this treasure, this salvation is so very valuable! We should diligently seek salvation and when we find it we sell everything we have, we give everything we value, we even give our whole lives to keep it. And that pearl of great price, that's Jesus, and when we find him, we do whatever it takes to have him in our hearts.

Selling everything you have, giving everything precious to you, giving your life for the kingdom, that's the best investment you can make - that is how you gain this treasure, this pearl of great price.

Then I might ask you - What is the kingdom worth to you? What is your salvation worth to you? Does your life reflect that? And then you feel guilty about all the stuff you haven't sold yet, and we all go home for lunch.

Somehow that interpretation never did ring true, but I've only once ever heard this parable taught differently. That one time changed everything.

I believe that the common understanding of this parable has things all backwards. Sinners don't naturally seek Christ - Jesus draws men to himself and he is the one who seeks and saves those who are lost. We have nothing of value to contribute to our salvation. There is nothing we could possibly exchange to obtain Christ. Our salvation is a free gift.
CC Image courtesy of Alex Valavanis on Flickr

So what is it then?

We need to ask ourselves a few questions here, starting with: Who is speaking? To whom are they speaking?

Well that's an easy one - We know it is Jesus speaking, and he is speaking, it seems from the context, to the twelve disciples.

So then, who is the 'man' in these parables? What is the treasure? Why a pearl?

In short, I propose that in these two parables Jesus is addressing the Jews as his treasure and the Gentiles as his pearl.

In all of the parables just before this one, the main protagonist in each one represents Jesus - he is the sower of seed, the baker of bread, the planter of the mustard seed and the wise wheat farmer - so why would it change for two parables where the listener becomes the man who finds the treasure hidden in the field or the merchant who finds the pearl of great price?

No, I propose that one key to understanding these verses is to see the man and the merchant in these parables as Jesus.

So that answers that question - but what about the hidden treasure and the pearl?

Jesus was Jewish and all of his disciples were Jewish, so looking at what a Jewish person would have understood about a treasure in a field, and about a costly pearl would certainly be helpful!

Let's start with the treasure...

His disciples were all Torah observant Jews in that they would have been highly familiar with what we know as the first five books of the Old Testament - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

In Exodus 19:5, and Deuteronomy 7:6 (also Deut 14:2 & Deut 26:18), God says about the Hebrew people that he has chosen them as a special treasure. And Psalms 135:4 states 'The Lord has chosen Jacob for himself, Israel for his special treasure.'

Jacob - who was later named Israel - was the father of the twelve men who would be the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel. In other words, Jacob, and by implication all his descendants, would be the special treasure of the Lord.

In contrast to this, it is doubtful whether the word 'pearl' appears anywhere in the Old Testament - there are some words that are sometimes translated as 'pearl' - but any one of them could as easily be translated as another word, like ruby or red coral or something else (Ref.).

What we do know is that pearls come from oysters and, if we're going to be technical, other bivalve molluscs too, and molluscs in general were considered unclean according Jewish law:
9 ...Everything in the waters that has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers, you may eat. 10 But anything in the seas or the rivers that does not have fins and scales, of the swarming creatures in the waters and of the living creatures that are in the waters, is detestable to you. 11 You shall regard them as detestable; you shall not eat any of their flesh, and you shall detest their carcasses. 12 Everything in the waters that does not have fins and scales is detestable to you. - Leviticus 11:9-12
Their value was acknowledged by Jews who could recognise that pearls fetched a high price in the marketplace, but pearls still had the undesirable trait of coming from an unclean animal. No Jew would be willing to harvest pearls, considering that one would have to go through a couple of thousand of their 'detestable carcasses' to get just a few pearls.

At that time, the most costly pearls came from regions outside of Israel - specifically the Persian Gulf - about 1700km away across a mountain range and a large desert.

So they may have understood the first of the two parables, but why then did Jesus tell a bunch of Jewish men that the kingdom of heaven was like a merchant who sold everything he had to buy a pearl?

Let's recap - we have a number of scriptures where God says that he chooses Israel as his 'peculiar' or special treasure. This is the only time that I can find where a specific group of people is referred to as a treasure.

Then in the same breath, as a clearly parallel parable he talks about pearls - something unclean and foreign. So what else would be considered unclean and foreign to Jews? Gentiles perhaps?

In case that word is foreign to you, a Gentile is anyone who isn't a Jew.

I propose that Jesus is saying that this group of people - unclean and foreign - these Gentiles - that's you and me, are his pearl of great price!

Isn't that amazing? You and I, we are the pearl of great price that Jesus redeemed by giving everything he had...

If that offends you, I understand - it offended me too... I was so wrapped up in my efforts to give everything I had to gain the kingdom, that the idea that he paid the ultimate price, rendering my efforts ineffective and pointless, was rather offensive.

I am
We are
The pearl of great price

If saying 'I am the pearl of great price' is difficult for you, take heart, it gets easier every time.

Just that on its own blows my mind, but if we know a little more about pearls it gets even better

CC Image courtesy of Behan
An oyster shell is really not much to look at. I've heard someone say that the first person to open an oyster shell must have been mightily hungry! It's not something one would generally do without good reason.

We have evidence that people of the ancient world ate oysters, not Jews of course, but others. Can you imagine the first time someone opened an oyster and found not only the odd looking flesh, but a pearl too? What a surprise! What a treasure!

And so it must have been somewhat confusing for the Jewish people that God would bring such a treasure from such an unlikely and unclean animal. And so it is with us - the Gentiles. It took quite some doing for the early church to realise that Jesus'' message was not only for them but the whole world, that God intended to include everyone in his plan, not only his chosen people. But, he chose the Israelite nation to be the vessel by which he brought forth salvation  - but not only for that nation but for the nations of the world.

Pearls and Amber are the only gemstones produced by living creatures. Amber is fossilized tree resin and pearls are formed when a foreign material somehow manages to get under the mantle of an oyster or other such creature. It's like when you have a label in your shirt causing an itch - you can't just leave it.

In the case of the oyster, it responds to the itch by coating the offending object in layers of something called nacre - that same substance that you see inside a mother of pearl shell. Nacre is translucent and each coat forms another translucent layer - with layer upon layer being added until it becomes a pearl as we know it.

via Wikimedia Commons

Part of the particular beauty of a pearl is that we can't do anything to improve them. Precious stones have to be extracted form the earth and then worked and cut and polished for them to look good - it takes a lot of work for a diamond to look like a diamond. But pearls come ready formed. Human intervention cannot improve their luster and brilliance and we certainly cannot reproduce it.
CC Image courtesy of michael davis-burchat
on Flickr

This is such a beautiful picture of the completeness of our salvation - it is finished! It is done! We are a new creation, holy and righteous, clothed in pure, radiant white. There is nothing we can do to 'improve' or 'add to' or 'work at' our salvation. 'Work out' perhaps, but certainly not 'work at'.

Furthermore, pearls are formed in the dark, in secret, and the oyster usually dies when the pearl is extracted. This reminds me of salvation and baptism. In baptism we are buried with him; we accept that we were in Christ in his death. in him we also rise from that death - this kernel of suffering he coats with layers and layers of himself, of his own substance. In his death and his rising, his beautiful pearl is revealed - ready to reflect his light.

Speaking of light, pearls are genuinely radiant. Light enters the pearl and bounces between the layers of nacre, and if you want to get scientific about it, the optical axis of each aragonite crystal that makes up the nacre is at right angles to its surface, from which I understand that light reflects outward in all directions.

So, how is it that something formed in darkness seems made for light?

It's as if God takes suffering and coats it in layers and layers of glory until it is wholly unrecognisable and transformed into something utterly beautiful, something that mirrors his glory. I love how this is a picture of how God can take the worst situation and really truly work it for the good of those who loved him. He doesn't just coat the grain of sand in one layer of himself, just to hide it, but keeps adding glory upon glory, layer upon layer, until the glory outweighs the suffering by many orders of magnitude - and it becomes a thing of great value and dignity.

CC Image courtesy of mrpbps on Flickr
It's also a picture of how Jesus took on flesh to bring forth his kingdom. We were bought with a price (1 Co 6:20 & 1 Co 7:23) and that price was his life. He gave himself for us to purify us. (Titus 2:14) He made us partakers in the inheritance of the saints in light, delivered from darkness into light and translated us into the kingdom of his dear son. (Col 1:12-14)

Just a side note - you may have heard that the lustre of pearls is improved when worn - this is because pearls are formed in a waterlogged environment. They can dry out if the environment is dry enough - so being on the wearer's skin exposes them to perspiration which helps to keep them hydrated and not crack. Feel free to make of that little factoid what you will! Hydration is important!

In closing, in Revelation 21 we read about the New Jerusalem, the holy city. This city has twelve gates - with each individual gate made of one pearl.
9 Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed13 on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. - Revelation 21:9-14 (emphasis added)
The angel gives measurements and speaks of the various stones representing the 12 tribes and continues...
21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. ... 25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life. - Revelation 21:21, 25-27
Number 12 is believed to be significant as it is the product of 3 and 4. Three represents divinity - the trinity - and 4 represents the earthly - the four points of the compass. Multiply the two numbers and you have the number of God's divine order on earth. Here it shows the perfection and completeness of the new heaven and the new earth.

So we have 12 foundation stones with the names of the apostles on them - which inevitably reminds one of Ephesians 2:20 which states 'we are being built as a holy temple, on the foundations of the apostles and prophets.'

Then there are the twelve gates with twelve angels. Verse 21 tells us that each gate was made of a single pearl - hence the term pearly gates - but what is astonishing is that each of these gates has the name of one the tribes of Israel on it, anyone entering the holy city will have to walk through a gate made of pearl. This also takes me back to Ephesians 2:11-22
11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
In his body he has reconciled us to God, by covering us in his own substance to give us a whole new nature. 
CC Image courtesy of jev55

You are, I am, We are the pearl of great price that he gave everything to gain.
Our salvation is that ready made gem that cannot be improved by human hands.
Let that sink in.
He takes our suffering and coats it in layers of himself.
He gives us his perfect righteous nature and reconciles us to himself and to each other in his body.
He clothes us in pure white, radiant with his glory. 
You are, I am, we are the pearl of great price.

Any thoughts you would like to share? Please do comment below. Every comment is appreciated.

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Tuesday, 28 April 2015


YOLO - You-Only-Live-Once - and FOMO - Fear-Of-Missing-Out -  annoying acronyms often used to justify reckless, if not downright dangerous actions.

Jack Black on 'YOLO'

Growed ups like me tend to get all judgy on the young 'uns for taking 'living in the moment' a little too far, but actually I think many of us are guilty of much the same thing. We just don't have a trendy hashtag to advertise it! Instead, we have burnout, fatigue, heart attacks and depression.

Many Christians aren't much better - they have their own version of YOLO:

I Can Do All Things Through Christ
Vinyl Wall Quote

They translate 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me' as 'Let me pack on more stuff because doing more good stuff makes me a better Christian and I'll feel guilty if I don't do it'

I was that person who would secretly enjoy it when people said they just didn't know how I did it all. I was also secretly proud of the fact that I was so very honest and authentic when I told them I cried at least once a week as my form of stress relief.

I used to have this sneaking suspicion that I was really just lazy and if I only managed my time better or took this or that supplement I really would be able to do it all.

That was until my body started showing signs of what 'doing it all' was doing to me. My body chemistry was totally out of whack from crazy sleep patterns, erratic eating habits and rollercoaster emotional rides - mostly because of a very bad combination of YOLO and FOMO. That and the idea that I kind of owed it to the world to do the stuff I was good at. All of it. All the time.

By the time I realised that things had to change, I was in an already stressful job situation, and I realised I was taking responsibility for situations I had no authority to change. Responsibility without authority is demoralizing. I was totally overwhelmed.

For my health, for my sanity, for my marriage and for my kids, I resigned from that job and took a job in a totally new field, with a big drop in salary, but with a better potential earning capacity and in pretty much every other area in my life I wiped the slate clean - and over the course of a few months I just withdrew from everything except work and my family and weekly church gatherings.

It was hard. In many ways it felt like I was dying inside; especially when things I had been involved in carried on perfectly well without me. Maybe it was the part of me that got life from being indispensable that was dying.

But once I got over that, I felt like a new person! Such freedom! I was able to spend more time with my family and learn how to enjoy my kids again because I wasn't always functioning at my limit. I was able to look at where I could best apply my energy and I discovered some activities I never thought I would enjoy as much as I do - like vegetable gardening for example. I also learnt that I didn't have to feel guilty for lying down to read a book or doing something 'unproductive'.

When I say no to things that aren't heading in the direction I'm going in, then it empowers me to say yes to things that will advance me personally and professionally. It opens up space for real yesses.

Some things that helped me on this journey:

  • Read the season - There are things I am good at and many more things I am passionate about, but I am learning to read the seasons. There are some things I carry in my heart daily, keeping the flame alive, but I know they will only come to fruition another time, and even then I carry them lightly and I choose to walk day by day with Jesus - watching for the nuances of the journey he is taking me on. 
  • Good enough is the new perfect - I have been known, in moments of arrogance, to say that I'm not competitive, I'm just always the best, or first, or whatever. Yeah. I really did have that thought. This is a whole blog post on its own. But I've stopped beating myself up or agonising over my 'failures' if something isn't quite on target or absolutely up to the (usually impossible) standard I have set myself. 
  • Find non-violent ways of establishing boundaries - I have been looking at non-violent communication and it really has helped me to find ways of making potential conflict situations into constructive moments. Still learning though!
  • Just be where you are - When I was at work I would feel guilty about not being with my girls and when I was with my girls I would feel guilty about the work I had to finish and so I was less productive and didn't enjoy either activity. Just be where you are.
  • You will always disappoint someone - Not having people disappointed in you is not a measure of success. There will always be someone whose expectations you didn't quite meet - but often you get to choose who that is. And sometimes there is nothing you can do to prevent disappointing someone. Just get over it. It helps me to remember that my Abba absolutely adores me and is always pleased with me - who else matters really?
  • I don't have to do it just because I'm good at it - I met someone who was spectacularly good at a number of things in different fields, but chose to forego greater financial gain and follow his passion. I don't have to make sure everyone knows all the things I'm capable of all the time. I was good at teaching ballet - I danced for over 25 years, and I enjoyed teaching. But it didn't ignite my waking hours. I know that many people don't have the luxury of choosing their passion over what they have to do to make a living, but I had it and I seized it. 
  • I figured out what my deepest priorities are - And I saw how decisions I was making were moving me away from living my deepest priorities and putting me in situations where my values were compromised. I made the choice to get out. I had some idea of what captivates me at my core, and so I started making decisions that would move me towards those goals.
  • A great team - I had a great functional medicine practitioner who helped me see what my decisions were doing to me, and friends who encouraged me as I made changes, even ones that inconvenienced them, because great friends always want the best for you! Most of all I am so grateful for a wonderful husband who sees us as a team, working together to fulfill both our destinies and meet both our needs. You may be blessed with a great team - or you may have to find it. Do what it takes to get a team, and then, be on someone else's team in helping them achieve what they are designed to do.
  • Limits are ok - Some limits need to be shattered, while others need to be respected. Deciding which is which is the hard part! Limits are not always the enemy, sometimes they are your friend.
I bet you're waiting for me to say something about balance. 'Everything in moderation' and all that. But I'm really not that into balance. I don't want to love my kids or my husband in a 'balanced' way. The word balance makes me think of other words like 'pinched' and 'calculated' and 'exhausting'.

I'd rather be centred. And when I'm centred on Jesus that simplifies a number of things.

One proviso though... if you're the mom or dad with kids and a spouse and it all seems overwhelming right now - this is not an excuse to up and leave and go find yourself by hiking through the desert for 6 months. I removed myself from the places where I was dispensable so I could be more fully present in the places where I was truly indispensable. No one else promised to be married to my husband but me, and no one else gave birth to my kids but me. In all other places, I am dispensable. Immediate family is first priority and making them suffer so I could 'find yourself' or whatever, was never an option for me.

I really identified with this quote by Thomas Merton,

There is a form of contemporary violence to which the idealist fighting for peace by nonviolent means most easily succumbs — activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence. The frenzy of activists neutralizes their work for peace. It destroys their own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of their work because it kills the inner wisdom which makes their work fruitful.

So I realised that I really can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and sometimes that thing is saying 'No' and letting go of my need to be impressive and just live, because, you know, YOLO.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Love the skin you're in

Have you ever wished you had another body?

Wikimedia Commons
Before we look at that question, I apologise in advance. Writing this post feels a bit like trying to gather dandelion seeds. Each idea seems insubstantial on its own. Trying to fit them all together seems impossible, but necessary - I trust you will find some value in it!

So, I've often wondered what it would be like to live in someone else's body. I'm curious. How does it feel to be a baby learning to control that huge head? Or to be a teenage boy - what does one do with all those knees and elbows and feet and hormones?

I am quite a slim person, and I sometimes wonder what it must be like to have a large bust - to have to 'lift and wash' so to speak. Alternatively, what would it be like to have to shave my face every day? What does sexual intimacy feel like for someone else?

All these questions got me thinking - do I even really know what it's like to live in this body? How often do I acknowledge all the information my body is giving me at any moment?

Tea must be made with boiling water!
Source: Wikimedia Commons
I think of those times I knew someone had entered the room because of the slightest change in the light, of how I have come to just intuitively know where North is because somehow my body just keeps track of the sun, of how I know when my tea water isn't hot enough by the sound of it flowing into the cup. 

Take a moment and acknowledge each of your sensations. Sight, sound, smell, taste and sensation. Consider them each in turn and thank your body for telling you what is happening around you!

So often we see our bodies as merely vehicles interact with this physical world - just this thing that we use to get around. We speak of them disparagingly, we feed them carelessly and we push them relentlessly. 

Look after it! It's the only body you have!
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Imagine if we did that with our cars: Give a cup of fuel at time and then complain when it runs out; give them dirty fuel at that and berate them for sputtering along and not performing as they should. It would make no sense. If someone gave you a car and told you this is the only car you would own for the rest of your life - no replacements available - you would look after that car with utmost care - your would treat it as indispensable. There are no replacements for your body - treat it with care!

On the other hand, some of us identify too strongly with our physical appearance. If looking good means you feel good (How many times have you heard that before?) then looking bad means you feel bad. I'm not sure I want my feeling good to depend on something that fickle. And by whose standard would I determine if I look 'good' anyway? When women define their value by how closely they resemble a warped and culturally specific ideal, they will always experience some sense of failure. 

So women tend to judge their physical bodies by comparison and in doing so, view their bodies as less attractive than they are, and hence treat them in less than healthy ways either to gain attractiveness or neglect them as unattractive bodies are not seen as worth looking after. On the other hand, many people, generally men, see their bodies as more attractive or healthier than they really are, and tend to neglect them in other ways. 

So where am I going with this?
In short:

Women's bodies are valued as ornaments. Men's bodies as valued as instruments. 
- Gloria Steinem

Your Body is a Battleground - Barbara Kruger
Perhaps the gender distinction isn't as strong as it was when Steinem first made this remark - but I think it is still important to ask - Do I see my body an instrument or an ornament? Does my body exist for me to do what I'm called to do on this earth or for the visual pleasure of people around me?

You've probably guessed from that second question that I've chosen to see my body as an instrument rather than an ornament. 

This distinction became much clearer to me one day when I was exercising. I have/had really skinny upper arms that make my elbows look huge. I was always self conscious about them as a kid. But, one day when I was working out my arms, I realized that I was doing it because it felt good - the thought of bulking up hadn't actually crossed my mind. I came to a point where I the thought of being able to lift my own body weight with my arms just *felt* good. And guess what, my arms did get a bit bulkier.

Even for men, what's the point of bulking up for the sake of looking big or defined or whatever, if you actually aren't much stronger or more capable than you were before? Why pump iron when you can build houses? If the aim is to build muscle, I'd rather do something useful with all that energy. 

So that got me wondering how things would change if we started making decisions based on how something feels rather than how it looks. For example - if your thighs are chafing and that is uncomfortable for you, do what you can to make the change FOR YOU. Don't do it because a small section of society has determined that your value is defined by your thigh gap. 

If you're going to make changes, make them from a place of love rather than loathing, from acceptance rather than tolerance. If you don't love your body because it's yours, can any amount of dieting or surgery or make up change that? I don't know.

Pink Prison
Source: Wikimedia Commons
For me this shift has changed the way I shop. I choose clothing almost primarily on how it feels. I can't stand the sensation of synthetics on my skin, so I very seldom buy items made with synthetic fabric. I am a dancer and I love to be able to experience my full range of movement at any moment. When I try on clothes I spend more time waving my arms about, doing some high kicks, dropping some squats and touching my toes than I do looking in the mirror. 

I will not be complicit in supplying my own prison! 

And high heels - they slow me down and I've discovered they can actually be detrimental to my health. So I just stopped wearing them and found alternatives. If the main reason to wear high heels is because they make your calves look good, count me out. My body is an instrument, not an ornament. 

When a woman sees herself as an ornament, she is continually viewing herself through someone else's eyes - she is objectifying herself. She is, in a sense, out of her body. This affects a number of things. Women who self-objectify often engage in continual body monitoring - Cross your legs so you don't have thigh-spread, hunch your shoulders so you don't appear so tall, suck in that tummy, stick out those boobs, check hair, check lipstick, is this a good angle? 

According to work by Dr Caroline Heldman, among others, this practise can decrease a woman's cognitive function in that there just isn't enough brain space to monitor how you look and do the task in front of you, and, among other things, it decreases one's enjoyment of sexual intimacy. 

A woman who self-objectifies tends to view herself having sex as if through someone else's eyes, or through the lens of a camera, monitoring her wobbly thighs and undignified noises from outside rather than being present in her body and enjoying the actual sensation and intimacy of intercourse. 

So contrary to the popular idiom, looking good stops me from feeling good. To me, that's just not worth it!

A quote from one of my favourite spoken word pieces - Pretty by Katy Makkai:

...but this is not about me. This is about the self-mutilating circus we have painted ourselves clowns in. About women who will prowl 30 stores in 6 malls to find the right cocktail dress, but haven't a clue where to find fulfillment or how wear joy, wandering through life shackled to a shopping bag, beneath those 2 pretty syllables.

So, rather than wondering what it would be like to live in another body, I choose to rather be present in my skin, to love my body for what it can do, rather than for how it appears. I choose to be here, really here, in my skin.

I choose to wear joy. Will you join me?