After my 4th baby in 6 years, the “baby fat” didn’t just melt off like everyone promised it would by nursing. Multiple trips to the chiropractor didn’t solve my hip pain either. I had tight muscles in my legs and could barely walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes. I was disgusted with my body and discouraged about ever feeling comfortable in my own skin again.
Then, I found the Mutu program. A friend and I bought subscriptions on Mother’s Day, with the resolve to fix our broken postpartum bodies. I had no idea, though, how healing the process would be not just for my body, but for my spirit as well.
One night after the kids were asleep, I started to watch the intro videos for the program and tears started streaming down my face. It seemed like Wendy Powell, the creator of the program, was speaking directly to me. Instead of feeling ashamed by my poor posture and saggy skin, she made me feel hopeful about fixing my diastasis recti, strengthening my core, and straightening out my posture.
In her videos, Wendy talked about how- from wearing high heels to sitting at desks or on soft couches- our bodies have gotten out of alignment. You have multiple babies with a weak core, and it affects all the areas of your body. She explained how the core and pelvis are a dynamic duo, but the body can’t strengthen muscles it’s not talking to. There had become a disconnect between the mind and the body, and I could totally relate. That night, I couldn’t wait to start talking to my body again!
Wendy acknowledged that we might feel bitter about a birth that didn’t go according to plan, or even angry at a body that didn’t do what it should have. But now, she said, it’s time to stop punishing your body and strengthen a body you love. Even though your muscles are weak, she explained, your body doesn’t need bootcamp; it needs to be nourished! That’s exactly the message I needed to hear to speak healing into my relationship with my postpartum body and to reconnect by body and soul.
That night as I lay in bed, I thought about the hope I now had to unite my body and soul, and how this is how evangelization should work as well. The effect of sin is a separation from the body and soul. And often we don’t realize the consequences that sin has. Just as over time my muscles got weaker and weaker, over time sin makes our souls more frail. What does someone outside of the Church need? It’s not usually bootcamp; it’s love!
A Christian does not need to yell at those who need to repent, but show them love, healing, and hope. We all feel effects of the sin, whether we realize it or not. We have poor spiritual alignment, which needs to be corrected slowly by strengthening from within.
A Christian needs to reach out as a fellow sinner and say, “Hey, I found a better way. I found hope and healing in Jesus.” One of my favorite quotes is from D.T. Niles: “Evangelism is just one beggar telling another beggar where the food is.”
Evangelism is sharing the good news of what God has done to save us. What evangelization is not: chastising someone for rejecting the Gospel. Name calling or ridiculing because ones’ beliefs are different than your own. I have friends on social media who make me feel very uncomfortable with their version of “evangelization.” They sit on their high horse office chair and proclaim the right and wrong way to pray, vote, or live without having sat in anyone else’s office chair. Their condemnation of non-believers does nothing in the way of sharing the good news. If you have ever been hurt by someone like that, I am truly sorry. Just know that they are, in fact, a sinner too and we are all in need of saving.
When Jesus walked this earth, who did he dine with? Prostitutes. Sinners! Tax collectors. The poor, the sick, the outcasts. And like the woman at the well, he says, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11) The call is always to conversion, but it is out of love, not legalism.
I heard a phrase on retreat last year that has stuck with me: “The devil condemns, but the spirit convicts.” We can’t be shaming those who are separated from Christ and condemning them. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17) The conviction that the Spirit brings is what moves us to repentance and change.
So many people – even Catholics – think that God is just waiting for them to screw up so he can punish them. We think of this just and punitive God who sends people to hell because of their sins. Far from that, the good news is that Jesus came to save us! God does not WANT us to go to hell! He loves us and has prepared a place for us in heaven! This is the message of evangelization.
Like evangelization, I heard a message of hope and change in the Mutu program. It has been so transforming to restore balance back to my body. I’m not done with the program yet, but I can already see a difference. It’s changing the way I eat, stand, and exercise a little bit at a time. And I want I women to know that they can put their body back in place and get it working properly again!
But even more so, I want people to know the good news of Jesus Christ. He’ll change the way you live, think, and pray. The Sacraments will put you back in spiritual alignment so you can be renewed and restored. Over the next few blog posts, I hope to explain how you can take some steps to come closer in your relationship with Christ, just like the exercise program has taken me step by step into a new relationship with my own body.
“God did not destine us for wrath, but to gain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live together with him. Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up.”1 Thess 5:7-8