Stretch Marks, Flabby Arms, and a Whole Lot of Grace

photo by Sara Anscombe
photo by Sara Anscombe

The problem with perfection is that it doesn’t exist.

We need to get real with ourselves right now, ladies. Our daughters and our sons depend on it.

I’m still getting used to the fact that little ears are now listening (and repeating) what’s being said. A few months ago, I caught myself talking to my mom on the phone discussing my excitement that my gym membership now includes childcare.  I’m excited about the childcare because “I’m a fatty and need to go to the gym”.

Wait, what?

Stop right there. That conversation just got catalogued in my 2 year old’s brain about how women, especially women who he finds “verwy prwetty” view themselves. Is that the kind of filter I want my son to have when he thinks about beauty?

Heck to the no, sister.

But, I’m going to confess something right here and now: I do not like what childbirth (c-section) did to my body. It wreaked havoc on my hips which now pop when I walk; it caused unmeasurable scarring from an auto-immune disease I had while pregnant; it messed with my hormones so my face looks like that of a 15 year pubescent; it left me with a pocket of skin that will never stretch back; and nothing, nothing fits like it used to even though I’m back to my pre-baby weight.

Sound familiar?  Of course it does. You know why?

Because we all do it.  We whine and complain to our friends, our moms, our grandmas, our spouses, or boyfriends. We try (and fail) diets, we get intimidated by all those damn mirrors at the gym, and we subsequently compare ourselves to that forever skinny friend while she eats a dozen Krispy Kremes during our coffee date.  And since we’re confessing today: I both love and hate my forever skinny friends.  Such a sinner I am today!

Oh sure, the Bible mentions physically beautiful women — some of which used their infallible hotness to save their people or their lands — but it does not mention, at least from what I can tell, what makes them so beautiful.  I can almost guarantee that Old and New Testament women weren’t receiving copies of Ye Vougeth in their mailboxes torturing them daily as they looked at the “ideal body type.”

Check out one of my favorite woman in the Bible: our dear daughter the Virtuous Woman (Proverbs 31) — Maybe she had cellulite. Or maybe arms that waved back at her while she waved at her friends. Or maybe she looked like Barbie.  The good news is that it doesn’t matter because that wasn’t what made her so fabulous.  She is fabulous because she is “clothed in strength and dignity” (v. 25) and “opens her arms to the poor” (v. 20) and “sets about her work vigorously” (v. 17).  She lead her children, supported her husband, bought land, took care of others, and generally set about being awesome.

My son needs to see that kind of mom, not the self-depricating, body image-hating, grumpy-because-I-have-a-muffin-top-mommy. He needs to see me model what it looks like to be a “woman who fears the Lord” (v. 30) so he’ll look for that in a wife. Does that mean I just eat Cheetos all day long and give up?  I’d like to!  But in reality: no. It means that I have to love what I got, stretch marks and all.

When you’re leading out of a place of confidence of who you are in Christ, you will ultimately lead with the same grace for others that you’ve been able to give yourself.  Don’t disregard the power of grace for yourself as you walk this life serving others and serving Jesus.

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