Flawed yet Flawless
If you ask me what I think one of the biggest struggles with my postpartum body is, I would have to say, “learning to love myself again.”
Learning to appreciate the stretch marks, the excess skin, the lack of elasticity in what used to be a “flawless” canvas. It’s seriously a struggle to understand how to embrace this stage of life.
I’m still young. I’m not morbidly overweight. I do have a few pounds yet to lose but it shouldn’t look like this.
What happened to my body?
Why didn’t it bounce back like I assumed it would in my more naive days?
To be honest, I try not to think of it much because I can quickly run down the rabbit hole of self hatred.
Before today, I certainly wouldn’t have thought I would defend this body. Until I realized the power and the impact of a simple word.
“Anyone else have flawless stomachs after delivery?” – anon
Let’s be real here, I am NOT a fan of fishing for complements. NOT.AT.ALL. I am a fairly blunt person, what you see is what you get, and I do my very best to guide in truth AND grace. But I’ll tell you, when I saw this post (accompanied with a young woman’s stomach) I could FEEL the tingles on my spine.
If I were a cat you would have seen my eyes go from cutesie to later focused and ready for the attack.
Not because she was looking for praise and adoration over something that she had little control (I mean, props to those who have bodies that bounce back, I am most certainly jealous) but because of the verbiage.
The words we use carry so much weight and sometimes we don’t know it until we see it in action.
As if to suggest that anything other than a quick bounce back to the pro-baby body we once had was … flawed.
The heckles came up. And I instantly felt like I needed to comment.
Nothing against the young woman, nor the few others that chimed in with self love. By all means ladies, celebrate those victories. But to address the verbiage with a simple response.
I will be the first to admit that it is difficult for me to find the sexy in my current body. To dig down deep enough in the idea of self love and confidence to bring the sexy back. But, I would never go so far as to say that there is something inherently flawed in this stomach.
You see, to suggest that there is an idea of flawlessness is to claim that anything other than that is inherently flawed. That it isn’t doing as it was designed to do.
And, I mean, our bodies may not all bounce back, and some may jiggle more postpartum than the Jello at the Chinese all-you-can-eat, but this doesn’t mean that one over the other has become flawed.
In fact, I would argue that there is something to be learned from a body that did the unexpected.
Hers’s what I mean.
When I was younger, if you had asked … which I know you would … I expected that I would have two kids. The million dollar family, to be exact. I would have expected that I would look totes adorbs preggo. Like the cute little baby bump, all the clothes fitting like a model from a thyme magazine. I would have expected that, after delivering my babies, I would walk out of the hospital in my pre-pregnancy jeans.
I would have expected flawlessness. Perfection.
The reality of my situation was so different that, looking back, I would LAUGH in my own face.
I mean, I went from two children, to five. I gained an alarming amount of weight throughout my pregnancies. No matter WHAT I ate, HOW I moved or the amount of PRAYER I sent up. Walking out of the hospital … and even through till … well NOW, I am still in maternity jeans and pants because nothing seems to fit comfortably. I can tuck my mommy tummy (mother’s apron) into my pants. I have a separation of my abdominal wall sufficient to hide a dinky car in there (I have tried it, the car disappears, it’s 6 cm from abdominal wall to abdominal wall y’all). And I have stretch marks ALL OVER.
My belly looks like a wrinkled road map of the London subway system, And that’s complicated!
No matter what it looks like, no matter how much my body seems to have defied my expectation over the last six years. Despite the fact that I may, at times, feel let down by where I am at and the MOUNTAIN I still have to climb … my body is perfectly crafted by a God who knows my heart.
You see, had my body bounced back like this young 20 something momma, I may not have found myself on my knees begging for His affirmation. If my body had returned to it’s previous state I may have walked with more pride and arrogance and less humility and understanding toward those who struggle with body image daily. If my body did what I WANTED it to do, I wouldn’t have understood what it meant to find my identity in Christ alone. To find worth and confidence in His love, and to find the “sexy” in my marriage again because my worth to my husband is not defined by how quickly my body snapped back or didn’t.
The lack of “perfection” is not a flaw but a reminder that we are called to bigger and better things than selfish conceit. Than hollow praise.
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I think what hit me on an even deeper level was the realization that this IS how I think of my body at times.
Like, not out loud … of course.
But the inner voice. The still small voice in my head that tells me that failing to bounce back is a flaw.
That the stretch marks that have turned my skin from that of a tight young woman to a wrinkled bag, is a flaw.
The voice that spirals into a dark pit when … if for even a SECOND *nay, a nanosecond* my husband hesitateswhen I mention sexy time, reminds me of all the flaws.
He doesn’t find me attractive.
It’s not sexy to have have a mountain of loose skin sagging down past the incision from my first c-section.
How on EARTH is he supposed to find this nearly 200 lb me attractive when he bought into a life with the 140 lb version.
He doesn’t want me.
I’ll never be sexy again.
This is too hard.
Give up now.
That inner voice that jumps on all the lies and insecurities of a woman who is defining herself by something other than who she is in Christ.
That demon attacking the security and sanctity of marriage, motherhood, and femininity found in His image.
And here is the truth of that matter. We are all susceptible to his attacks, to the lies murmured during moments of weakness. When we question whether we are good enough, strong enough, smart enough, sexy enough. The lies jumped on and magnified under our own scrutiny.
But those are the lies of the enemy.
Lies meant to distract us from the courage to be confident, courage found in God’s unchanging love.
Lies meant to diminish our reach, to dull our shine as we focus inward on all the things “wrong” with us.
The truth, ladies. The TRUTH is that we are created PERFECTLY in His image. Our bodies all respond differently to motherhood, designed to teach us lessons expertly tailored for US in THIS STAGE of life.
Each stretch mark, wrinkle, jiggle, meant to bring us closer to Him in our desire to define our beauty and worth not by outward appearances but by how we reflect the Father’s love.
Because, if I could walk away from having five babies in as many years, rocking a two piece at the beach in all that “yummy mommy” glory … if I *personally* could have walked that path, I can guarantee you I wouldn’t “need” God.
I wouldn’t need to find my beauty in His image first, to rebuild my strength under His wing FIRST. I wouldn’t have needed HIM when I couldn’t take my clothes off infant of my husband. I wouldn’t have cried out after the first half of a workout for His strength when I was lifting not even 50% of my “normal” weight.
If I hand bounced back, I would have bounced away from God.
And that is not His plan.
And so, while it may not be sexy … while the stretch marks and the extra movement may hinder my confidence every now and then. I can assure you.
This body is flawless.
This body is teaching me so many lessons, bringing about so much humility, and each tentative step, each drop of sweat, each victory, is won through Christ alone. Because HE wrote this journey to bring me firmly beneath His wing.
And the same goes for you girl, no matter how “unsexy” you feel, no matter how you are struggling with your weight or image … there is nothing FLAWED about you. There is nothing WRONG with you. This is just a part of the journey.
And you have a choice, you can buy into the enemy’s lies, allowing them to destroy you and rob your joy.
You can remember that you were made for a moment such as this. You were created in the image of God. And, while that image may seem distorted, or you aren’t your “best self”, you have everything you need to start making changes. And all the while, with ever pound lost, with every ounce of confidence gained, you can use this journey to bring glory to the one who loves you.
Define yourself FIRST by who you are in Christ. Find your beauty in His love for you. Remember that nothing else matters. NOTHING.
And then move.
Move forward with an appreciation for this body and these lessons because they were crafted specifically for you, in this time.
Your body is FLAWLESS!
I guarantee it.