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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Embodied

jenmichel@me.com

I put myself into bed last night at 8 p.m. Apparently, I'm the only one tired from our four days and eighteen hours of driving last week, when we'd returned to the States for Colin's surgery.

Yesterday afternoon, I even laid down for ten minutes on the couch when the words had begun to blur on the screen. I was plodding through the copy I'm writing on the book of Leviticus, and I suppose passages on bodily emissions weren't thrilling enough to keep this girl awake.

It is not easy for me to give this body the care it needs. But I suppose it's age (and hopefully a growing wisdom!) that forces me into the slowing and the forced reckoning that I need rest and sleep, exercise, healthy food, and lots of water.

In years past, it was easier to wear habits of the Spirit than to care for my body. Neglect of the body seemed spiritual almost. But what was really happening was a false categorization of what is is good and spiritual (Bible reading, prayer, ministry) and what is earthly (exercise, sleep, food). I call this false division the "fissure," and I lived out of the place for many years. And out of the fissure grew the exhausted, depleted Jen who hadn't dealt properly with the idea that we are bodies, and that bodies necessarily imply limits. The body offers no inexhaustible supply of energy: it requires we fuel it, we rest it, we give it some attention. And caring for the body isn't really about looking fabulous or hardening what jiggles. (Let me assure you there's a lot jiggling after five kids.) A healthy body works in tandem with a healthy mind and a healthy spirit. There are interconnections between all these dimensions of the self that we need to respect.

It is still my tendency to want to overextend. Very often, I still do not respect my own limits. But this New Year has nudged me back to reflecting on the questions of caring for my body. No, I'm not exercising enough (ok, at all). No, I'm not drinking enough water. Yes, I have too much sugar in my diet, and yes, my calendar's a bit out of control.

Those are the confessions I make to you.

There is more peace to be made with my limits. There is greater care I need to take of my body.

This New Year, I want to wear better habits of the body.

“Even the shallow things of life, such as eating and drinking, walking and talking, are ordained by God. Beware of allowing yourself to think that the shallow aspects of life are not ordained by God; they are ordained by Him equally as much as the profound. We sometimes refuse to be shallow, not out of our deep devotion to God but because we wish to impress other people with the fact that we are not shallow. This is a sure sign of spiritual pride. We must be careful, for this is how contempt for others is produced in our lives. And it causes us to be a walking rebuke to other people because they are more shallow than we are. Beware of posing as a profound person— God became a baby.”

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest