Children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children born in one's youth. Blessed are they whose quivers are full. They will never be shamed contending with foes at the gate. ~Psalm 127:3-5

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Beauty of the BODY

When I was in the doctor's office the other day waiting for my PCP to come in, I was still reeling a bit from my weight check.  My body, while NO WHERE near what I would like it to look like, has changed quite a bit since having my fifth baby six months ago.  Everything fits differently and I feel smaller.  But I stepped on that scale and to my surprise, I weighed more than I thought I did.

As I sat on the exam table, I read the weight/height chart strategically secured to the back of the door and found out that apparently, I am 26 pounds "overweight."  Say what??

Since that moment, I have scrutinized every detail of my stretch-marked belly, the small hump on my back, the roundness in my shoulders. I've smoothed and pinched and smacked the extra skin I still have lingering right in the very middle of my abdomen.  I've thrown my shoulders back in attempts to straighten everything out. I dread looking in the mirror and actually avoid full-length ones if I can help it.  But why do I do this?

Because in the tragedy of our fallen world, people have sunk so low as to view others as either USEFUL or USELESS; something to be consumed.  Pornography sets the stage for so many relationships; the standard impossibly high for the average woman.  We're not viewed as attractive unless we're skinny and fit.  Regardless of the fact that my husband finds me attractive and often tells me I'm beautiful, I have that in-grained thought in the back of my mind that maybe I am not.

And it's a shame.  Because I believe there is beauty in ALL types of bodies.  All shapes and sizes.  My body has been home to seven babies.  Seven!  Five of them I was blessed to grow to term.  But this has wreaked havoc on my once-tiny waistline, as well as the rest of my body.  Perhaps the beauty my husband finds in my body is the fact that I have carried his children within me. That the extra flab on my belly is from my body literally stretching itself, and sacrificing parts of me to accommodate our babies and give them life.  Maybe it's just that he can't see past the love I show them and him as I relax more comfortably in my role as wife and mother, despite my insecurities with my ever-changing body.

Perhaps it's none of those.  Perhaps it's just that he doesn't view me as either useful or useless, or something to be consumed.  Perhaps my husband sees what the Creator sees, something made in His image, something to be cherished and loved no matter what I look like, no matter how much weight I've gained or lost.  I'm not sure because I've never asked.  One thing I am sure of, though, is that there is beauty in everybody; fat, thin, short, tall, young, old.  Beauty does not rest in the eye of the beholder, but in one's own innate value and purpose.  Some are able to see it.  Others are blinded by the world.

So women, especially all you mamas out there busting your behinds to become someone else's vision of the perfect body, here's some advice (which I clearly need to listen to myself):  Exercise to be healthy, but don't beat yourself up because you can't get rid of that last ten pounds or aren't losing weight as you would like.  Rejoice in your stretch marks because they're proof that you sacrificed much to grow another human being within you.  Be gentle and loving to your aging, changing body, especially if you're post-partem.  And NEVER let anyone tell you that you aren't valuable or beautiful.  Don't let them make you feel less than you are.  God created you in His image; you are beautiful and valuable to Him, no matter what your body looks like. And that's really all that matters.


Christine said...

You are beautiful, and so are your words. Thank you.

Marie said...

Beautiful, affirming words. I agree! Exercise and eat right for health, yes, but realize that your body's flab, wrinkles, and scars are memories of what you have created and experienced.

Lisa Schmidt said...

Thank you for this timely reminder, Rebecca. I've had some not so positive experiences in the ob-room regarding my weight, too. It can be very deflating, as you so eloquently state. You know, if I am pro-life, as I emphatically declare to be, then why do I struggle mightily to respect the body (and life) that God has blessed me with? I don't know why it's so hard for me. Thank you for sharing - much to ponder about and pray for here. Many blessings to you!

netablogs said...

Very good post! It's something to reread!

Marianne (Mare) Baker Ball said...

popping in from the a-z. Love finding other believers in the blogosphere! Wonderful them for the a-z. Good post on abortion, and laughter, and this one on our bodies. I'm exactly 26 pounds overweight too! I go back and forth, beating myself up, and having peace about it. I know my weaknesses re: food - I'm just lazy. It's such a constant struggle - I just get tired of the whole thing! I'm a new follower. :-) Come visit, it you'd like:
from The Dugout