Building the perfect resurrected body

“…but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame.” (Alma 40:23)

Years ago I was talking with a friend after church about the resurrection. Not in any deep, meaningful way, of course. She just mentioned the scripture that says “even a hair of the head shall not be lost,” and she said that she hoped it only applied to the hair on top of one’s head and not to any other random hair that one might not want to have restored. She didn’t expound further and neither shall I; suffice it to say that I share her hope. But that’s not primarily what this post is about.

Well, maybe it is primarily what this post is about, because I frequently think of this conversation whenever the topic of resurrection and of receiving one’s perfected body come up. I always wonder what my perfected body will be like. I don’t have any particular ailments that need to be cured. Not physical ones, anyway. I have all my limbs and my eyesight and most of the hair on my head. (I know better than to wish for more of the latter. See: “The Monkey’s Paw.”) I suppose I could stand to hear a little better, but presumably after the resurrection my ears will be kept perfectly clean, so that kills two birds right there.

I haven’t done any scientific surveys, but my sense is that most Mormons imagine their perfect, resurrected bodies to be like their mortal bodies were during the “prime” of their lives. (This despite the fact that most heavenly beings are depicted as white-haired men with beards. I hope this is just metaphorical, like the angels with wings.) I’m not sure what the prime of my life would be. I’m 40 years old. I’m reasonably pleased with my body right now. I actually think it might look better than my 25-year-old body did. It works pretty well, too. It can’t run as fast, but it dances better. I think that will be more important in the afterlife.

As much as I complain about the deep lines that came from years of frowning and brow-furrowing, I think I actually like my 40-year-old face better than my past faces. I like the maturity of it. It no longer has an acne problem. It probably smiles more–and I make an active attempt to un-furrow the brow at regular intervals, though I will probably never give it up altogether. (I hope that doesn’t mean my face actually will freeze that way…for eternity! Maybe more active un-furrowing is called for.)

And I know that if all goes according to plan, I should have perfect eyesight after I’m resurrected–but I’d still like to keep these glasses around because I think they make me look smarter.

So if I get to choose my perfected body, I may very well opt for the 40-year-old model. (Unless I turn out like Lena Horne and look super-hot at 70. But I’m not one to count my chickens.) Assuming that my40-year-old resurrected body will not need to wear braces like my mortal 40-year-old body does. I don’t mind the braces so much now, but part of the not minding is the knowledge that it’s not eternal. Will I have to specify 40-year-old body and 42-year-old teeth? Make that 44-year-old teeth because I don’t want to be wearing a retainer in the afterlife, either. I don’t know. My orthodontist says that I’ll always have a little bit of an overbite because my lower jaw just isn’t…whatever…enough. (Of course, when he said “always,” he wasn’t referring to THE RESURRECTION!) I’ve decided I don’t care enough about the overbite to get surgery on my jaw to fix it (in this life). Will this overbite, presumably, be fixed in the resurrection? After I’ve had it for a lifetime, will I look weird without one? Will they have one of those computer programs like cosmetic surgeons have that shows you how it will look? (That might be an Urim and Thummim thing, for all I know.) It’s not really important to me. I’m just wondering.

I also have a mole on my chin that has not historically bothered me, up until the last couple years when it has started to resemble a wart more than a mole. I do not mind a mole on my chin. I very much mind a wart-looking mole. I keep going back and forth on whether or not I am vain enough to have it removed. This is another thing I wonder how much it will affect the look of my face. I remember when I was five or six years old, my father was called to the bishopric and he was asked to shave his mustache. I had never seen my father without a mustache, and I confess that initially I found his clean-shaven face repulsive. (Seriously, I wouldn’t look at him for, like, a day.) My father hasn’t had a mustache since, and my grown-up self thinks he looks much better without one and always did look better without one, but that could partly be familiarity talking. I really hope my father doesn’t have to have a white beard in the afterlife. (What if I emotionally reverted to my 6-year-old self and couldn’t look at him? A “day” in the afterlife could be a very long time!) How different would I look without my chin mole? Probably not very, but would there always be something a little “off” about me? I don’t know.

One thing I do worry about, speaking of hairs not being lost and all things being restored, is that I currently dye my hair–have for the last three years or so and intend to keep doing so until I die or start looking ridiculous, whichever comes last. I’ve never particularly liked my natural hair color, and I particularly do not like the 40-year-old version of my natural hair color, which is a dull brown streaked with liberal amounts of gray. The color I choose to make my hair is a light auburn, which looks fabulous, and I’m not just saying that to be conceited. Everyone says so. (So if I’m conceited, take it up with everyone else.) I very much want my hair to be light auburn in the resurrection. Permanently light auburn, because as much as I love the color, I hate the hassle of dyeing it (even though it is totally worth it). Do you think I could make that request? Or would I even need to–because really, I’ve always felt that I was meant to have hair this color, and it may well be that the resurrection will correct the congenital defect of my non-red hair? I certainly hope so.

I don’t want people to think I’m picky or anything. I take some pride in not being picky about a lot of things in life–but this is eternity we’re talking about. Do you think the hair thing is taking it too far? Is it like asking for the house salad except I don’t want the regular dressing, I want the balsamic vinegar and oil and I want it on the side? Do I dare specify that though my 40-year-old body is perfectly acceptable, if at all possible I would really like to have my 26-years-old-and-6-months-pregnant breasts? I do NOT want to end up pregnant in the afterlife, so if there is any possible Monkey’s Paw factor at play here, maybe it’s best not to bring it up at all.

But back to the hair thing, in addition to having my hair made permanently red, do you reckon I could also have my legs permanently shaved–or waxed, or whatever they do on the other side? Or will I be resurrected with a feminist enlightenment that recognizes hairy legs as a symbol of empowerment and self-determination?

Lest ye think I’m just some shallow lady who only cares about her looks, let me assure you that my primary hope is for my brain to be resurrected with as much wisdom as I’ve been able to accumulate over a lifetime but without the dementia or short-term memory loss. (Though if we could erase some of those long-term memories I haven’t been able to shake in mortality, that would be super-awesome.)

Speaking of super-awesome, though, the other day I was talking with my thirteen-year-old, who was expressing her disappointment that she won’t get wings after she dies because wings would be “epic.” I had to agree that wings would be pretty cool. I told her, though, that she might prefer to have detachable wings because wings that were permanently affixed to her person might make it difficult to change outfits and stuff.

We do get to change outfits in heaven, right? (Right?)

Artwork by Mary J.

Comments

  1. Anybody care to take a guess as to what the next Reader Question Box search query that brought someone to BCC based on this post will be?

  2. The main reason I blog here is to influence the search query box.

  3. Rebecca, I think you’ll look exactly like you want to look in the eternities.

  4. Detachable wings really would be epic!

    Physically, I’d prefer my 19-year-old body over anything after that, in most ways – with a little more of the type of build that I had then and much less of the type that I have now. I think I’d prefer to be bald, but my wife seems to believe she will have the power to veto that – so close-cropped without the bald spot would be cool. I don’t mind being more hairy than most, but a little less of the non-head hair would lead to fewer “fur” comments from my kids – which would be nice.

    I also can’t wait to see the search queries that get linked to this post – both as it stands now and after all the comments it might generate.

  5. Anon for this (I am a Professor) says:

    This is a nice post, but I’m more interested in my future hyper-nerdy Sci-Fi powers like going through walls and ceilings, traveling faster than the speed of light, and glowing brighter than the sun. Maybe I will also be able to make plants grow in seconds and attract birds of many kinds that will eat out of my hands. Who cares about stray body hair when you get unlimited bandwidth on your Urim&Thummim (made by celestialized Apple technology)?

  6. Does my spirit look like my body? If so, does the spirit adapt to how my body looks, or vice versa? If I can look however I want in the resurrection, how will we recognize each other?

  7. Steve Evans says:

    This reminds me of some thoughts I once had on the topic. Basically, I think our notions of perfection are imperfect.

  8. I love this stuff. But I really don’t know where to go with it. I think there’s some suggestion that bodies may be mutable. If Gardner’s take on UT’s is right, I’m sort of wondering what that’s all about (Celestial U&T).

  9. But that’s not primarily what this post is about.

    Curse you and your teasers…

    (continuing reading now)

  10. I’ve always figured there’s gotta be some flexibility in chosen appearance given Christ, as a resurrected being, is able to show the scars in the palms of his hands to people. Given “scars” don’t seem very “perfected-like” (although deeply meaningful and personal) than there must be some leeway in the whole matter.

    Really. I’d like a “choose the best of.” Hair when I was 22. I’m pretty content with my 30-some face. Eyesight from when I was 16. Breasts from the first trimester of my first pregnancy. etc ^_~

  11. Kevin Barney says:

    Joseph originally taught that when babies die, they are resurrected for all eternity in their little baby bodies. It wasn’t a popular idea, so that morphed to mothers being able to raise them to primehood.

  12. observer fka eric s says:

    I always wonder whether we will still have to put up with certain pieces of “plumbing.” Like, um, belly buttons, nipples on men, a uterus (for the women), stomach, large and small intestines, . . . colon? Is a male resurrected body manscaped or gorrilla back/chest?

  13. I want by 23 year old hair, but not my hair-do.

  14. (This despite the fact that most heavenly beings are depicted as white-haired men with beards. I hope this is just metaphorical, like the angels with wings.)

    Yes, but athletic white haired beings with great skin…

  15. johnny b good says:

    i would like a bigger…. toe

  16. Sounds like Rebecca J is doing great at 40. Me, my left ankle/foot seems to have retired me from the basketball court, I just had a tooth pulled (it split for no apparent reason, but they’ve assured me they can replace it for $5000 — is a tooth worth that?) and I’ve more hair on my shoulders than I do on my head, and I’m only a couple years older. (Gads, I don’t know how you truly old people even get out of bed in the morning!)

    But, to the subject at hand, definitely manscaping.

  17. Okay, I’ve read this post and the thread twice through now, and I still am missing the requisite Don Henley reference. It has to be in here somewhere. Someone help me out here.

  18. Mostly, I hope that I don’t care so damn much about how my body looks after it’s resurrected. Hating my knees/nose/eyebrows/thighs/jiggly arms/poochy belly/stupid hair is such a colossal waste of mortal time/energy/emotion. Whatever a body in its prime is, I hope it comes with a large enough dose of confidence to obliterate the leftover 7th-grade self-image.

    And RJ, my hair was meant to be red, too. Really red. And curly.

  19. We do get to change outfits in heaven, right? (Right?)

    Please no.

  20. Kevin Barney says:

    Love Mary’s artwork, btw.

  21. I vote to have all stretch marks removed, along with any surgical scars,and since Jesus got to pick and choose I’d like to add a tattoo on my right buttock to ensure visibility within a crowd–assuming in the afterlife we’re all naked like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. If not, move said tattoo to a visible location on my upper arm. The last thing I want is to be confused with someone else’s wife.

  22. Does my body look like my spirit? If so, does my body adapt to how my spirit looks, or vice versa? If my body has to look like a pre-existent spirit, then that would take a lot of divine manipulation during recombination. So my guess is that spirits either don’t look like our bodies necessarily, or that they are very malleable. So I think I’d like to look like this http://cdn.mos.totalfilm.com/images/m/mega-galadriel-470-75.jpg

  23. I’d like to add a tattoo on my right buttock

    I’d like to keep the tramp stamp tattoo I’ve already got… I *earned* that puppy.

  24. I am less concerned about how I will look than how those around me will look. After all, they are the ones I’m going to have to spend eternity staring at.

  25. Maybe we will look differently to everyone who sees us, based on what they want to see and how they picture us or based on how we want them to see us.

    I don’t really believe that, but it’s cool to consider. I really liked the way it was presented in “What Dreams May Come”.

    Closer to what I actually believe, maybe it won’t matter in the slightest – since we will see each other as “who” we are and not care about how we objectively “look” on the outside.

  26. Mommie Dearest says:

    I have always imagined that, rather than having wings in the afterlife, it would be really cool be able to inhabit the bodies of birds for a flight or two. And while I’m filling out the order, I’d like my dh to be the 23-year-old version, physically, and the old guy for all the rest. For myself, the list is too long to think about, much less write down.[1] However, if the options are limited, I’ll take youth.

    [1] I’ve never quite shed my junior-high self image.

  27. I hope to resemble my highly athletic build from when I was 18 or so, and I intend to make any spirit progeny worship idols of my glorious form.

  28. I’ll keep my soft stomach, 26″ inseam, and mild asthma if it means my mother can be cancer-free. Now would be good. Or tomorrow. I’ll take tomorrow.

  29. Kevin, just last week in RS, we read this from the manual: All spirits are in adult form. They were adults before their mortal existence, and they are in adult form after death, even if they die as infants or children (see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith [1998], 131–32).

    I have never heard the mother’s raising dead babies to adulthood thing except in the most speculative, folkstory way. Was this really taught?

    My perfected body will be strong, lean, and energetic. I don’t really think we’ll look genetically the same as we do here, but we will be recognizable by our inner beauty. People will recognize us by who we are on the inside.

  30. You will engineer your own body with the ease of a professional artist painting a portrait.

  31. #28: meems,
    “My perfected body will be strong, lean, and energetic”.
    Maybe Buddha has/is the perfected body?

  32. In my version of heaven, we get full design control over our spouse’s perfected body.

  33. #31: CL,
    Care to state (dare to state) what changes you think need to be made?

  34. #32: It would be a much greater blessing for my wife than for me. I’m not saying that either of us would make any changes right now, but ask us again in 30-40 years and I bet our opinions will have changed.

  35. Portia (27) – My deepest sympathies. I lost my mother to cancer fourteen years ago. I hope for the best outcome with your mother’s treatment.

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