Sunday, July 20, 2008

How Having a Child Made Me Beautiful

On a serious note.. In considering last night's conversation with my friend I met in Rite Aid (see  "Calling All Crazies" below), I felt that it was time for me to write a post that's been brewing in my head.  First I will say that I have to confess that I had to fight the urge to start a diet and high energy exercise program. I'm glad that I was able to shake it off and laugh about it and call the girl crazy but I do want to clarify that would not have always been the case. I never had an eating disorder but, I did constantly obsess over the way I looked. There was always a new obsession. My nose is too big, my ears are too big, other parts of my body aren't big enough, my hair is too thin... and so on.

Well, after working with many girls in youth ministry, and watching many teenage girls with eating disorders and girls obsess over the same types of thing that I did, I came to believe that this is an issue that as Christian women, we need to put an end to. I became especially aware of the problem within myself after I had Emma. I really wanted to make sure that I taught her to be okay with herself and I knew to do that, I had to learn to be okay with myself. It's really quite ironic because instead of teaching her, she taught me..

When Emma was born, I was so taken by her that I couldn't take my eyes off her. The first night that I had her, I stayed awake all night long and watched her sleep just waiting for her to wake up and need me. I examined her every little part and declared her beautiful. I marveled at the fact that I had made something so perfect. I remember thinking that by becoming a mother I had become what God had always intended me to be.. It was truly a magical time. This was the point that I began to believe in love at first sight. I loved every part of her but there was one thing that really stood out to me. Her lips. She has the most beautiful lips. I continued to watch her as she grew always admiring her lips. I closely examined every relative on mine and Adam's side trying to figure out where this specific feature came from.. I looked through pictures, I watched Adam as he talked and then one morning, I walked by the mirror and caught a glimpse of Emma's lips... on me... Her lips came from me! It just took seeing them on someone that I love more than life itself to look past the things that I didn't like about myself to see the things that I did like about myself.

After this realization, I printed out this scripture: Psalm 139:14
"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." I posted this scripture on my mirror and I wrote those words on my heart.

A few years later, Chloe came along and though it didn't surprise me that she was beautiful because I knew by then the beauty that I would see in my child, there were other features that she reflected from me. And I was amazed all over again. I'm sure that you've probably came to this conclusion on your own but I feel as if I would be remiss if I didn't mention that God's sees us as the same perfect beauty that we see our children.

Ok, so I didn't say all of this to say, so look at your children and find all the things that are pretty on them that they got from you so that you can feel good about yourself all though, that might not be a bad thing to do. But I do want to say that I don't think we can teach our children to see themselves as God sees them until we learn to see ourselves as God sees us.

I have made a commitment to not fret about my appearance in front of my girls.. And I'm working on not fretting about it at all. I'm not saying that we shouldn't teach our kids to be healthy. I think that eating healthy, exercising and taken care of ourselves is part of being a good steward of the things that God has blessed us with. But I also know that wrinkles and gaining weight is a part of aging and I truly want to embrace all of my life, even those parts. I don't think that God ever intended for us to pick his creation apart. I guess when the way we look becomes the sole motivation for the things that we do, there is a good chance, that motivation isn't from God.

I do want to tell you that once I dusted myself off and stopped calling her crazy as a defense mechanism, that poor girl last night has been on my heart. I've spent some time praying for her today. The things she said to me were not mean spirited at all. I think she was truly afraid that she wouldn't be able to live with herself if she gained 10 lbs and I feel so sad for her for that.

I guess that's pretty much it. Maybe she will find her way into your prayers tonight too.

And God please help me to help my girls see themselves and others as you do.