How My Anatomy Class Taught Me About God
[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Maddy Preston. I loved the science aspect of Maddy’s story today. We all need reminders from time to time that our body is wonderfully and beautifully made. Thank you for sharing your story today, Maddy!]
At the end of my senior year of high school, I stepped on the scale and discovered I was about 20 pounds overweight. Frustrated but unsurprised, I decided this needed to change and went on a fad diet, cutting out entire food groups in the hopes of feeling better about myself. While my initial intentions were healthy, the desire to become healthy quickly brought about a desire to be thin, and I launched myself into years of weight fluctuation due to strict dieting followed by periods of binge eating. I deluded myself into thinking that once I reached a certain weight, I would be satisfied, but 2 years later, I started my junior year of college 15 pounds lighter and every bit as insecure as I was when I first started.
I also started the year anxious. Anxious to take what most people consider the hardest class in my major—Human Anatomy. I had heard horror stories from my friends who had already taken it—spending every Friday night in the lab studying for the practical exams, failing tests they had studied so hard for, and passing out in the lab due to the smell of the preservatives and the sight of the cadavers.
But it was in one of my moments of anxiety that the Lord spoke to me. I was in the lab by myself one afternoon, studying the slides I would have to know for the quickly-approaching practical, when something in the atlas stuck out to me. It was about bone tissue, and how it has canals that transport blood vessels through the bones to provide them with nutrients. It hadn’t occurred to me that bones even needed a nutrient supply to begin with, but I realized then that God had designed every detail of my body to work together perfectly.
And I thought to myself, “Wow. God really knew what he was doing when he made me.”
This wasn’t the first time God had tried to tell me this. Over the past few years, he had spoken to me through friends, books, and pastors, trying to tell me this very fact. But I think it was in this moment, sitting alone in the lab, that I finally started to listen. And I kept listening. And he kept speaking. In that class, as well as in the physiology and biochemistry classes I took the following semester, I continued to learn about the biological processes occurring in my body that even the most experienced scientists couldn’t comprehend. My body did not exist for the sake of looking pretty. It was created by God for his glory.
Many times over the course of the year, I called to mind Job 38 and 39, when God responds to Job’s complaints by reminding him, without any sugar-coating, that He knows what He’s doing.
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding,” he says in Job 38:4.
Learning about my body made me realize that I, like Job, have no understanding of the ways of God. Where was I when God laid the foundation of the earth, or even the foundation of my body? Where was I when he designed every intricate, incomprehensible detail of how my body would work? And furthermore, how could I dare to complain about my body and determine its worth by how much it weighed?
My epiphany in the anatomy lab was a far cry from the end of my struggle with food and my body. In fact, at the time I was on another restrictive diet that provided a temporary state of emotional security before deteriorating into a year of overeating, weight gain, and even counseling. But I think God used that temporary emotional security to speak to me during a time He knew I would listen. I would have been so much less likely to accept that message had I been in a season of overeating and self-deprecation.
I’m still a work in progress. There are days when I am tempted to take my eyes off of our indescribable Creator and put them on my appearance, to ignore all he’s taught me. But he is faithful. And he reminds me so frequently of how glorious he is and how futile it is to criticize what he has created and called “very good.”
Maddy Preston is a senior at Wheaton College (IL) majoring in Spanish & Applied Health Science. She is from the northern suburbs of Chicago and enjoys walking the streets of Chicago and exploring its neighborhoods. She loves reading cheesy thrillers, watching NBC comedies, and doing anything & everything with her family.