I write to you while sipping on a green juice and munching on a waffle. Evidence of change—balance. This morning I had to stretch the waist band on my underwear so they wouldn’t be too tight. I should really go buy new ones. Evidence of change. I cancelled my Saturday workout and picked up my Bible for some rest, in my body and in my heart. Evidence of change.
I read a post written by women’s health and dietitian Renee McGregor. I have been reading her work for years now and have always deemed her information profound. Yet, I also deemed it not for me. Her post today rang in my entire body, awakening the realization of my extremely abrupt and extremely slow body conversion over the past year. Evidence of change.
Her post critiqued the notion that “women should not wobble.” Intrigued, I read the caption which professed her anthem about healthy body fat percentage and its direct impact on hormones, health, and performance. It wasn’t new information to me, in fact I had read extensively on the topic. Today, it seeped into me like I had never heard it before. Evidence of change.
Exercise was my safe space, my happiness. Food was my fuel, my resource, my nourishment. Together, my health was in my control. And then I couldn’t. And then I didn’t. And then it was out of my control. And that is when it all began to change.
Because it is not in my control.
When my health escaped my grasp, when my life started spinning around me, when no one had answers—control was no where to be found. It was not in exercise, not in food, not in medicine, or people.
There was only the One.
There was only the One who has never wavered. The One who never took a step away when I held my health above Him. Who never turned away His gaze when I tore myself apart for eating too much or missed a workout. Who held me when I cried. Who listened to my worst days. Who consoled my soul as I learned the depths of humanity. Who never forgot His promises when my successes crumbled.
The One Who Is
The Who is the I AM. The I AM is the Messiah. The Messiah is my Savior and Mighty Prince of Peace. He is in control and capable of changing every cell that makes up His beautiful creations, for He is our Divine Potter. His hands mold us.
I always went to Him for everything, and He was always there. But not when it came to my body, that was mine, and I had it under control.
One year ago, I was thirteen percent body fat. I was at the peak of my “health.” I ate a “perfect” diet, and my fitness routine was rock solid.
One year ago, I lost my period. I had overwhelming anxiety. I was consumed by fatigue, and made it through the day on caffeine. I weighed myself every day and carefully calculated every nutrient that entered my body. I loved nutrition, and still do. I gave my family and friends sound advice from my hours of research, but experimented on myself. I tried to control His creation.
I moved cities, began a new job with the onset of the pandemic, planned and re-planned a wedding. I leaned into Him. I was balancing the stress of work, the gym, and my extreme anxiety trying to figure out why my days were disappearing. I asked Him to prioritize my time, to help me make time for Him. Then the gyms closed. My intense sessions turned to prayerful walks, and I started to lean into cooking for flavor, comfort, and creativity.
I prayed my first novena to Our Lady, the Undoer of Knots. I heard novenas have been known to bring miracles, and as my prayer life bloomed more and more I wanted to see what it was all about. My devotion to her was for the intention of my health and my absent period. On the eighth day of the nine-day novena, after 322 days without, I started my period. (Needless to say, I love to pray novenas now.)
I thought that was the victory. I thought that was the healing moment, the peak of my prayer life, and the return to my health. But it was only the beginning. Praise be to God it was only the beginning. He always has more for us.
An Ongoing Surrender
Then I lost control of my health. Outlying circumstances kept me from the gym, from work. It sent me to countless doctors appointments, tests, and procedures. I leaned into Him. I spent my time with Him. It got darker, and I spent my time with Him. I became more frightened, and I spent my time with Him. And He revealed Himself to me.
Over and over again, little by little, He revealed more of His heart to me. The relationship I once had with Him became The Relationship. He became the soul of my life that began to take control, so that I didn’t have to. It was painful and so peaceful.
There are so many layers to the story of my year, and I hope to share more one day. But this isn’t my conversion story, just a small part of my love story. This is the part where He taught, and is teaching me, about surrender. This is the part where He revealed to me the beauty of His creation. He healed my eyes, He is healing my mind, and I believe He will heal my body in His time.
Health Can Become an Idol
We are made to be womanly. We are made in His image and likeness (see Genesis 1:26). Our body goals are internal. The goals that lead our souls to purity and holiness: the Beatitudes (see Matthew 5:1-12). Our bodies are temples for worship and thanksgiving like Saint Anna (see Luke 2:36-38), for He lives in our souls. “Don’t you know your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not on your own?” (see 1 Corinthians 6:19).
The Church tells us, “Health is an important value, but not an absolute one. We should treat our God-given body gratefully and carefully, but not be obsessed with it” (CCC 2288-2291).
And He tells us, “Their God is the belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things” (Philippians 3:19).
Let us never forget the life in our souls, the temple of the Holy Spirit.
Evidence of Change
This morning, I opened my devotional, Awaken My Heart by Emily Wilson Hussem, to Week Five: Body Image. I read it with a heart of love. I read it with a heart of gratitude, and I prayed for my body carefully, with intention. A year ago, I would have deemed this not for me. Evidence of change.
Exercise was my safe space, my happiness. Food was my fuel, my resource, my nourishment. Now, exercise and food empower my body and promote energy for my life. Now, He is my safe space, my joy. His will is my fuel, His Word is my resource, and His presence is my nourishment.
Because now, He is in control.
This story is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your health.
Courtney Cantu is a wife, daughter, sister, and nurse. You’ll most likely find her cooking or baking a new recipe. She loves a long walk with friends, chats over coffee, and a good workout. Sundays are her favorite day of the week, and mornings are her favorite time of day. She tries to share this joyful journey to Heaven with all those who cross her path along the way.