“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139: 13-16
I am fat, I am ugly, I am out of shape, I am not good enough, I am not smart enough, I don’t have anything to offer. These words have gone through my heads over and over since I was a teenager. I have struggled with self esteem issues for as long as I can remember. I look in the mirror and more often than not I am consumed with thoughts of all that I would change if I could.
My battle with my poor self image has been at an all time high throughout my pregnancy and postpartum period. I could not wait to have my daughter so that I could begin working out and running again. Which is a terrible thing to think about I know. Every day I see the stretch marks that cover my stomach, hips, and thighs, and wish that my body would cooperate with my desire to be skinny once again and that my skin would shrink back into place as it was before my pregnancy. My postpartum recovery has been remarkably easy considering the problems I faced during my pregnancy and delivery. But once again, I can not see this in light of all the things I think are wrong with my body. There are times when I step out of the shower, see myself in the mirror, and cry uncontrollably because of the way my body looks.
I have read numerous articles and blog posts about how beautiful the body is of a woman who’s given birth; the stretch marks, the scars, the sagging skin, I’ve read them all, and I didn’t believe a single one of them. Because when I look in the mirror every morning and I am faced with these marks, beautiful is not what I see.
God has recently revealed to me that this mindset is sinful. Which was a hard thing for me to wrap my mind around, but its true. My negativity towards myself and my inability to see my body as one of God’s wonderful creations is sinful. You see, God created us in His own image according to the Bible; and we are instructed to praise Him for His wonderful creations. We are the most wonderful of these creations! He tells us this over and over again. His word affirms how beautiful we are; and it also gives us a look at how grateful we should be for the time He took to form us from nothing.
The thing is, I have never praised God for how fearfully and wonderfully made I am. Have you? How many of us have spent more time bemoaning all of the things we think are wrong with us? I have felt ugly my entire life, both before and after my pregnancy, but slowly and surely I am beginning to feel differently. Every day is a new experience for me in the world of motherhood, and as I look at this tiny human being that came from my body I can’t help but think of how perfect she is, how beautiful she is, and how much I love her. These feelings are having an impact on me that I never imagined, because if I feel this way about her, how much more does God feel this way about me? After all, He loves us with an eternal love that surpasses all understanding.
I know that if my L. turned to me one day and said, “Why am I so fat?” Or, “How come I am not as pretty as so and so,” I would be absolutely heartbroken. So it serves to reason that my Abba Father’s heart breaks just a little each time I look in the mirror and wish I could just look different for a change. If this is true, which I daresay there’s a good chance it is, then I need to make a major adjustment in the way I talk to myself, the way I speak about this body of mine, made by my all powerful Lord and Savior. The one who sacrificed His one and only Son that I might live. I need to stop sinning with my words and thoughts, and I imagine I am not the only women, wife, mother, etc who’s said these words to herself. So let’s all take a moment the next time we are standing in front of a mirror and remember that we are made in the image of our perfect Holy Father, that He formed us from nothing with infinite care, and that He loves us more than we could ever comprehend. Let’s thank Him for this and ask His forgiveness for all our negative self talk.
And if we see another one of our sisters going through their own battle with self image, let’s remind her that she is beautiful. Not just because we say so, but because the perfect God of the universe says so.