When I married Grant one year and two months ago, I was skinny. Oh, I didn't think I was at the time, but looking back over our wedding and honeymoon album, it's for sure. I was skinny. I had no idea that my body's pre-pregnancy days were numbered. Three months into our marriage I became pregnant and then some crazy things started to happen. In the first trimester, I was delighted that I would have a baby and couldn't wait to see that little baby bump! The second trimester brought the baby bump! Again.....delighted! The third trimester was different. I was still delighted about having a baby, but not so delighted about what it was doing to my body. My ankles used to be sleek and definitely not swollen! My face? Let's say acne had had a field day! My hips had widened, my feet were always sore, and my arms had swollen on top of everything else. I was ready to have my baby and get back to normal.
Of course, I knew life in general would never be normal. For the rest of my life, I would be consumed with my son; caring for him, nurturing him, teaching him, raising him. I knew life would never be the same. But I never entertained the thought that maybe my body would never be the same again.
The Lord may enable me to return to the body I once knew before pregnancy. It might happen. But, most likely, if I am like the majority of mothers out there, I will probably live the rest of my life with regular reminders that my body has carried a child.
And to be honest, that is difficult for me accept.
Grant and I celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary two days after I came home from the hospital with our baby boy in my arms. Needless to say, my first anniversary was nothing like I had always dreamed it would be. My life, in just one short year, had changed so dramatically. I had married, moved nearly two hours away from my family, became pregnant, underwent major physical changes that I didn't love, and then gave birth - all in 12 months! Though that day was still special and precious, it was very difficult for me as a woman. I did not feel like the girl in the white wedding dress one year earlier. I felt physically and emotionally exhausted and very overwhelmed. And with my postpartum body, I definitely did not feel beautiful. I am blessed, however, to have a husband who does not have the mentality of the modern men of the world. One such moment when I was crying because of my "undesirable" body, Grant got my attention and said, "You are still gorgeous! You are my wife and it was through your body that you gave me Nathan...." Talk about perspective.
I can do my best to look attractive but if the Lord grants us the honor, I will, no doubt, undergo pregnancy and childbirth again. And I will have many challenges that are difficult, if not impossible, to escape. I will have the swelling, the extremely unattractive stretch marks, and all the other glories of housing a life. Inevitably, I will grow old. My hair won't be a shiny light brown. One day, it will be grey. My skin won't be smooth. One day, I will have wrinkles. One day, I won't be young anymore and my body will not be as it was one year ago, or as it is today. And I know God wants to teach me through those things.
Oh God, let me see myself as YOU see me!
I pray, if I am given the opportunity to bear more "little arrows," that I will have the heart of Christ where I pray not for my own will....but THINE be done. I want to praise God with my postpartum self! Why? Because I, as a woman and as a mother, can actually identify with Christ. He, too, gave His physical body for the glorious work of creating life where there was no life. He gave Himself to have far more pain and suffering than labor pains and childbirth. He gave His whole body to be offered up as a sacrifice..... and I am to follow Christ as His disciple. He took my body (which is rightfully His) and used it as an instrument to showcase His glory. He took a life and placed it in my body, which I gave up as a living sacrifice when I asked Him to come and take control. (Romans 12:1)
When Jesus resurrected and came to Thomas, He showed Thomas His scars. Through the giving of life, Jesus had endured suffering and pain....and He had marks on His body as a permanent reminder of what He had accomplished. In Revelation 5:6, Jesus is described as "a Lamb as it had been slain." What a humbling and beautiful thing; that Christ bears in His body reminders that God has used His "ruined" body to bring life.
The physical part of me sometimes feels "ruined." But if I am still and quiet before God, and allow Him to speak truth to my heart, I can begin to see myself as He made me - as His daughter whom He has used to bring forth new life and to carry in my body the evidence. And just as the scars of Jesus make Him more beautiful as our Savior and Redeemer, and hold within themselves hope, life, and the Gospel itself, MY scars make me more beautiful as a mother, a wife, and woman who desires to showcase God in and through and ON my body.
"But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."
"From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus."
"And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us..."
"Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised."