Do you spend time in front of the mirror inspecting your flaws everyday? Do you run your hand over the stretch marks on your belly and grimace? Do you survey the cellulite and the muffin tops and cringe? Do you stare into the mirror, wondering “whose worn out and baggy eyes are those?” Do you wonder where the “outer you” went?
I do it, too.
Do you wonder where the babies stop and you begin? Do you ponder when you’ll feel like yourself again in your new, more worn and stretched skin? Do you anguish over the fact that your body isn’t bouncing back like you thought it would or used to?
I do, too.
Dear, sweet mom. You are wonderful. You are worthwhile. You are perfect, just as you are. We live and sometimes die by what we feel like we accomplish. And sometimes, we rest those feelings of loosing or gaining on the tangible. We look around and wonder how much work we get done everyday and let the laundry and dishes and messes around the home tell us have we failed. Instead we should let the happy, healthy children we have tucked into bed for the night show us that we have indeed accomplished much that day. It is the same with our outer appearance. We let the numbers on the scale, the size tag sewn into the waist of our jeans or the latest plastic magazine cover celeb mom tell us whether we are beautiful or not. Tell us whether we are worthwhile or not.
This is wrong. This is backwards. This should not be.
You are beautiful, mother. Because of WHO you are, not because of what you look like.
The outside is only a part of you. Having children will certainly change how you look. You will probably have to work harder and be more intentional than the average person in finding time to be healthy. But the main priority of everyday is your children. The best perspective to keep is that your children love YOU. Size, shape and dimples don’t concern them. In the grand picture, they are irrelevant. Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting. It is a heart that fears and loves the Lord that is to be praised. It is the hands of a loving, intentional mother that our children remember. It is a heart of patience and goodness that our children respond to and flourish under. The Lord makes radiant the faces of those who look to Him.
For the everyday, a few pieces of advice. One is this: when someone pays you a comment, the correct answer is “thank you.” Do not undercut someone’s compliment to you about your great haircut by pointing out that you hardly ever have good hair days. Say “thanks.” And let it soak in. Two: there are seasons in life. Some of these seasons will make it all the more challenging to find time to exercise and make great eating choices. Control what you can. Do what you can. It starts with you. But do it for the right reasons. Don’t do it to look like Victoria Beckham. This isn’t always practical, definitely not realistic or healthy.
And lastly, remember that you are fearfully, intentionally and wonderfully made. You were made lovingly and you were made with intentional purpose. As a woman, with the tremendous and solely unique potential to have and nurture children. Your body is doing what it is supposed to do. For a wonderful reason and while fulfilling a high calling. It is forever changed, for the better. So don’t be ashamed of those stretch marks. Don’t think that your under eye bags are offensive. I believe that if more women, in the spotlight or not, embraced their faults, other moms and women would be all the more enthusiastic and empowered to do the same. We would realize this comforting truth: we aren’t alone in feeling discouraged about how we look. We are in this together.
So, dear mom. Breathe. Gain perspective. These years and these bodies are fleeting. You would probably rather have healthy, adjusted, joyful and bright children than a hard body. So don’t beat yourself up. Eat a Twix and allow yourself some slack. Press on at the gym. Press on at home.
You are amazing.
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.