Postpartum Body Image
Updated: Jan 28
Satan can't use my pants size as his weapon because life is too dang short.
Four babies have taken shape in my womb and I have had the privilege to deliver two of them. It was a miracle long prayed for, a threshold I yearned to cross. Growing our children in my womb is, easily, the greatest thing my body ever has or will ever do. I have never felt more proud of myself than the days I gave birth.
Yet the postpartum workout plan that has been taped to my mirror for the last year might tell a different story. The swimsuit sitting on my table–the one waiting to be returned because I was too chicken to try it on in the store, only to squeeze me too tightly in all the wrong places once I got it home–is a more honest reflection of how I feel about myself right now.
When I look at my body I wish every mark of its accomplished could be erased. The stretch marks, separating abs, sagging skin, and extra weight have often too been the focus of my judgmental gaze. I have let the world tell me that I should be “bouncing back,” hiding the evidence of what my body has been through. The mirror has been causing me disappointment, guilt, and shame. Getting dressed has become an exercise in camouflage and crashing self-esteem.
These feelings about myself are just those, emotions. They are not the truth. The real truth, the one from God, is that my body is not my own and my worth is not found in the way it looks.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” God created me in his own image and his spirit dwells within me. Think about how incredible that is. God put warrior angles outside of the Garden of Eden to tell people that their sin had separated them from living with him FOREVER. A 60-foot, four-inch-thick curtain had to separate the people of Moses from the Holy of Holies, the place where God would dwell in the temple. When Jesus died on the cross, God RIPPED apart this un-rip-able curtain to give an open invitation to live with him again. And now God CHOOSES TO DWELL within MY BODY. I TYPE THIS IN CAPITALS BECAUSE IT IS SO EXCITING. This good news cannot be restrained to lowercase, people.
So who am I to decide my body is not good enough, not worthy of love?
The passage goes on to say “You are not your own; you were BOUGHT at a PRICE. Therefore honor God with your body.” Jesus paid my ransom by choosing death on the cross. When Jesus returned to the disciples after his resurrections, he could have had a perfectly restored body. But instead his hands bore the scars of the nails driven through them, proof of the blood that was paid and the glorious miracle God had done through him.
Although it is still a daily struggle, I am realizing that my scars, too, declare God’s handiwork. The evidence of the babes my body has carried gives glory to the author of life itself.
Our daughter, two, has started to love checking herself out in the mirror. She catches her reflection, beams, and squeals "Vera!" clearly delighted to see herself. This girl is watching my every move and picking up on more than I realize. It would be absolutely crushing to realize years from now that she was reflecting my own thought life about myself, believing the unkind rhetoric.
For her, I am learning to love this skin I am in. Someday I am promised a perfect, resurrected body in heaven, but I can choose to love this one in the meantime. Life is too short to let Satan use my pants size to hold me captive to shame. I will address and dismiss the thoughts that come, the ones telling me I am enslaved to the number on the scale. I will bear my scars with pride because they gave life.