“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” 1 Peter 3: 3 – 4
Before I became a mother I was so concerned with my appearance. I didn’t realize how much this consumed my thoughts until I was at a gathering recently with Ben. A group of us sat around a table chatting and munching on junk food; we were enjoying our time. Then one of the ladies made a comment about her weight and appearance.
Now I have to admit that a year and about four or five months ago I was in that same place. Before I start to begin explaining what I have realized in these last few months, I must preface it with the admission that I was extremely consumed by my outward appearance. You know the kind of woman I’m admitting to being – the one who looks in EVERY mirror she passes by.
My favorite poem, Wear Sunscreen, is written by Mary Schmidt. One of the stanzas of her poem says, “Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.” I always liked that part of the poem. It resonated deep within me but it wasn’t until I gained 70 lbs while being pregnant with Brennan that I fully understood what she was saying.
I’ve explained how pregnancy wasn’t what I expected it would be but it was more than that. I secretly struggled so much with how my body was changing. I hated the way I looked. I would ask Ben at least three times a day if I looked fat. Lord bless him, he would simply say, “No, Bert. You’re beautiful and pregnant.” (I’m going to go on a little rabbit trail and tell you how blessed I am to be married to a man who has NEVER commented on my weight. He’s held me accountable to stay in shape when I have asked him to. But in the eight years that we have been together he has never suggested that I did not look good enough.) I’d like to say that I believed him with those beautiful words but that would be a lie. It drove me crazy that my body was completely changing and I didn’t really have a lot of control over the situation. My body was in “job training” (as my doctor explained it to me). It was changing and it’s still changing.
There’s so much more to being a woman than the way we appear and I truly wish that we could inspire our young sisters to give up this horrendous battle with our own unrealistic expectations. You will never look at present the way you wish you do. Even now, being probably (I have yet to step on a scale) about ten or 15 lbs away from my pre-pregnancy weight I can say that I am completely happy with the way I look. Why? Because there’s more to me than the outward appearance that people see.
So let’s do a little exercise, women. When I say “I am…” you fill in the blank and list all of the beautiful things that you are. Hear me on this: YOU ARE MORE THAN WHAT YOU APPEAR. I pray that you would tatoo this to your heart, understanding how beautifully made and truly amazing you are. You are a daughter of the King, so precious in His sight that He sacrificed His own Son so that you may live forever.
“I am…” a loving, patient, excited, fun, caring mother and I am a wonderfully loved, seen as a gorgeous wife to my amazing love, Ben. Most importantly I will forever be a saved woman of the Creator, the beautiful Bride of Christ. I am His, forever and ever. Amen.