It was a hot summer day in a small room in my even smaller town when I first understood that I did not belong to myself, that my body was not my own, and that I was inherently limited. Fifteen of us middle schoolers and our group leader sat in a circle, fidgeting in white fold-up chairs. The air hung heavy with premature body heat and Axe spray so strong a cloud loomed over our heads.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20. “My body is a temple,” says the Lord. And my youth pastor.
Our group leader plowed through an impassioned speech, beating this idea into the core of my being. And so, I believed.
With each action on this earth and impurity I committed, a stone was removed from my house of the Lord, leaving me more and more unwhole and unholy. And soon enough, everything I did and everyone I spoke to and every placed I went made little bits of me fall like a trail leading to an archeological destination.
Explorers came to my desolate building, seeking evidence that I once existed. They brushed away at the dirt and grime, rejoicing at the miniscule pieces still left to discover.
After twenty-two years on earth, I was hallow. I was finite—a shell and a limited soul. I took too many stones given to too many people and placed in too many homes. Those stones represented a name and when I had no stones left to give, I was forced to steal from the people I loved to give away to another. Love gives while supplies last, and when supplies ran out, I became used and damaged goods to my newcomers.
I sat at my computer at twenty-two, staring into the abyss of an endless Internet when a phrase once again passed before me. “My body is a temple.” There it was again, but new words formed after this dead horse, “But I am the god for whom it is devoted.” This unknown author pierced the deepest part of me, and new seeds were sown, watered over the next years by chance meetings and prophetic words. I reaped a new conscience, unblinded by previous misinformation.
Soon, I learned that my body belongs to me and I adorn her however I please. My temple isn’t set in stone. My existence isn’t limited by four walls and a carcass only meant to dissipate and die.
Love does not pick at the parts of who I am. Love becomes.
I become. I am infinite.
Every day with every interaction, I expand like the grass and the trees covering a fertile Earth. I discover new clay and form new stones and create new buildings. Little by little, I grow. I create love and give it as desired. I am reincarnated and multiplied. I transform and evolve.
My body isn’t a temple. It’s a city.