Back in August I posted this on Instagram,
So I’ve been thinking about some recent conversations I’ve had and wondering if any of you beauties would be interested in reading some of my favorite resources for breaking free from repressed sexuality and harmful purify culture? Embracing the skin you’re in and shedding shame? That last one was a huge game changer for me. I’ve got books, my favorite teachers and mentors and amazing online havens. It will probably take a week or so to put together so let me know if you want to see it! 💘💌🍇🌺🐯👑
And it was met enthusiastically. So I am excited to finally share the following resources: books, links, Instagram accounts, teachers and guides that have been helpful on my journey, and continued journey of Feminine Wholeness and Embodied Faith.
Do you really need to ask why this is important?
The short answer is really simple. We are embodied spiritual beings and humans. I am a soul and I have a body, to borrow words from C.S. Lewis. I am also a woman. As a woman and a person of faith, it is important to me to understand what it means to live in this skin, this flesh, this body, which just so happens to be female. I was never satisfied to live a life that was purely “spiritual.” After all, we’re not just spirit beings. And we aren’t meant to be either. I grew up in purity culture, that icky sub-culture; cloaked in shame and unconscious body shame, under the guise of “modesty.” Guess what, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, modesty is just another word for shame. Not in its intent, or even original meaning, but in its impact. And impact must be looked at.
I am tired of being in groups with young women who feel compelled to confess their shame because they falsely believe they are committing sin. I was one of those young women. Until I read Ruby Slippers, Eve’s Revenge and Dr. Tina Schermer Sellers blog, and any thread or question of shame was completely erased when I began reading and following the Feminine Wholeness work of Morgan Day Cecil. (All of these lovely people and resources are listed below.)
It’s actually possible to carry shame even if you’ve never crossed any physical boundaries. Surprised?
My jaw dropped as I began reading the blog of Dr. Tina Sellers and her research on purity culture and the negative impacts it has left behind. One fact astounded me most of all. One of her blog articles talked about the impact and symptoms of repressed sexuality in a marriage were similar to those of sexual abuse. Two extremes. One more traumatic, while the other was not healthy. It’s both completely mind-boggling and revealing. I believe it points to the fact that we are sexual beings and repressing that fact does no one any favors.
This is a Good Body
Here’s a bit more of my own words from a few years ago during a really important challenge on instagram.
August 4th, 2015
I snagged a pic from over a year ago when I had just begun yoga. I chose this picture because of the caption. “I wouldn’t be caught dead posting a pic of my middle but this pose somehow elongated it, so I was okay with it” When I look at this photo now, I love it, it’s beautiful, it’s Wild Thing, it’s strength + freedom.
I have only just begun uncovering the lies + shame that I carry in my body – the weight of being a woman. My healing journey began 2 years ago when I read an incredibly healing book called Eve’s Revenge: Women & a Spirituality of the Body by Lilian Calles Barger. She walks through the ways that religion + the church have taken poor directions both for women and the human body. Instead of a wholistic perspective, as it was created to be, it became separate. The human body became divorced from spirituality + has created an avalanche of hurts and problems. We were not created to be separate.
I always felt that I was a pretty confident, positive self-esteemed, kind-a gal. But the negative voices came from too close to home & lodged themselves like cheap shots – well intentioned but absolutely harmful. My dad thought it was funny to tell me to “get some abs”. It struck a chord as I already wished my stomach was smaller & flatter than it was. I have gone face to face with the lie of “not good enough” my entire life & this just amplified that.
What I’ve discovered over the past 2 years is just how much shame I’ve carried in my body. The shame of Not-Good-Enough. Somewhere along the road I actually believed I was larger or “fatter” than I really was, when I looked in the mirror, my perception was barely tolerable, eh, it was okay. I uncovered these lies & areas of shame at the same time that I began practicing yoga & seeing myself for who I really was in that moment. I saw my body grow stronger, & suddenly, for the first time I believed that I was beautiful, not just acceptable or pretty enough, or a pretty face or nice legs, but all of me, the whole me was beautiful. I began experiencing God’s love FOR me, all of me.
I am learning to love this good body he gave me. This is a good body.
Important distinctions and verbiage:
“Our Western Christian tradition often has given the impression, and at times explicitly taught, that this tension is primarily between the soul and the body. • The result has been a denigration of the human body and a distrust of our deepest physical energies. The biblical term ‘the flesh’, which refers to the sinful tendency in us to disregard our inmost self, incorrectly has been equated with ‘the body’.
‘The flesh’ and ‘the body’ in the New Testament are *different concepts.* The consequences of the confusion has been disastrous.
We have ended up obscuring the truth that our bodies are made in the image of God. When St. Paul teaches that we are to live ‘according to the spirit‘ RATHER than ‘according to the flesh‘, he is NOT suggesting that 👉 we should NOT live according to the body.
(an importance distinction❗️)
It is precisely IN our bodies that we are to live according to the spirit, rather than allowing ourselves, including our bodies, to be dictated to by what is opposed to our inmost being.
The invitation is to be liberated, to be reconciled to what is deepest in us instead of being held in bondage to what is false in us.”
excerpt from Echo of the Soul: The Sacredness of the Human Body by J. Philip Newell
Kind of in order that I went through them. Oh, and I’ve mentioned some of these before (they’re that good, and they’ve been that helpful so I may borrow a few of my previous words, again.) This is really just a starting place, not comprehensive by any means, and not including books I read years ago that I don’t necessarily agree with, anymore, or ever. (I’m looking at you, Captivating. *eye roll) There are some good titles out there…and some awful titles too. If you’re looking for help navigating who to trust…pay attention to the author’s worldview and theological bent. Believe me, everyone has an agenda. And I’m no longer willing to entertain the bent that says women need to submit to men. Jesus never asks that of me, so I shan’t.
To read my description of this important book go here:
by Christa Black Gifford
Other more spiritual / faith / theological / books about / for and from women that are solid and not ill-fitting: Any and everything by Carolyn Custis James, Sarah Bessey, Kathy Escobar, Danielle Shroyer. You won’t find any corsets here.
Additional Books I recommend but haven’t actually read in full or am still in the middle of, but based on their previous work, blog posts etc, I am eager to read and are on my list.
Echo of the Soul: The Sacredness of the Human Body by J. Philip Newell
Sex, God, & the Conservative Church by Dr. Tina Schermer Sellers
Be sure to also check out her blog and facebook page:
Morgan Day Cecil: Feminine Wholeness:
Basically, everything you need is here–there. So please go follow her, check out her site, sign up for her emails, read her blog posts and take a yoga class on her youtube channel. You won’t regret it. She also has an excellent organized book list by topic. So check it out! 🙂
Morgan Day Cecil: Feminine Wholeness
Romance & Adventure: The Cecils
This Is A Good Body Stories Archive
Christa Black Gifford
The best advice I’ve been given by my amazing Feminine Wholeness Coach is (in my own words)
- No more shame.
- It’s a good idea not to use sex as an escape. But don’t be afraid of pleasure. 😉
Be free, dear sisters, whether you’re single and unattached or otherwise entangled. Be free of your shame. Here’s a parting poem to encourage and embolden you:
*Amazon Affiliate links have been added for each book listed, should you decide to purchase a book, following my link simply means that I can receive a small commission that helps support my work. I only link to things that I wholeheartedly recommend and/or use myself.*