“Tend and befriend.”
I heard these three words earlier this week, and I can’t get them out of my head.
“Tend and befriend” is a statement that researcher Shelley Taylor used to describe the nature of women. There’s something innate in us, young women and old-er women alike, that desires to 1) Tend or care for others and 2) Befriend or make meaningful friendships.
We were made for tending and befriending. Which is to say we were made for relationships that desperately need kindness and compassion.
Research scientist Emma Seppala, PhD studies compassion, and she has seen how compassion positively affects our bodies — our health and our self image.
When we smile, breathe deeply, and take time to notice beauty, we reduce our stress level. When we reduce stress, we reduce self focus. And when we’re not so focused on ourselves, we are more likely to show kindness. We are more available to offer compassion.
And isn’t that where God wants us to be? Isn’t that how He made us? He made us to be wise and kind, full of compassion. Compassionate with others and with ourselves.
God knows that I do not always have compassionate thoughts, and he knows that about you also. But he doesn’t leave us in those moments. He stands beside us and offers us help. He offers us “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).
When we read God’s Word, we equip ourselves for battle. We choose to read, believe, and speak aloud Scripture because we will not let Satan dictate the words we speak. Satan will not dictate how we use our mouths, our hands, our feet — every part of these bodies God has gifted us.
Satan wants us to be indifferent, insensitive, harsh, hostile, and cruel. But we will not settle for Satan, Sisters in Christ!
We will choose God. Over and over again, we will choose to LIVE, clinging to the most compassionate Father we could ever imagine. We choose Him because He leads us to generously love and have compassion.
As you care for your changing body and your growing mind, remember that teaching kindness and compassion is our calling. We offer kindness and compassion to ourselves and those He draws near to us. “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” (Proverbs 31:26).
This piece originally appeared at bodytruth.org, published with permission.
Read more from Juleeta C. Harvey and Follow @body_truth on Instagram, where she posts daily. She empowers young women everywhere to be a part of a Biblically-based, healthy body image movement.