It’s the butt of many-a-joke and the heartache of many actual women – the loss of their pre-baby body.
We know that the miracle of growing an actual human being, birthing them into this world and nourishing them with life-sustaining milk is an epic feat!
Women are amazing.
And yet pressure from society, the memory of life before children and well just our own insecurities can make us feel like anything other than the 18-year old version of our body (or more likely, the 18-year old version of every poster-girl’s body) is what is truly beautiful. It’s a body with smooth skin, well-proportioned curves and a flat stomach.
Our body may or may not have been like that before children. But now – well it’s definitely not.
There are the short-term pregnancy changes – the expanding and contracting, the hair thickening and then falling out, the sickly complexion, followed by the “glow”, followed by the puffy, dark-circled eyes. And then there are the long-term changes, which impact us all differently.
I wonder how you felt when you looked in the mirror before children? Did you like what you saw? Perhaps the reflection wasn’t perfect, but there were some assets – perhaps your nose and your waist. Or maybe your curves and your hair. Your body wasn’t perfect, but you’d come to appreciate it. And you knew your husband appreciated it too!
But how did you feel when your tummy expanded? Did you look in the mirror with amazement or horror? How did it feel to look and move like Pooh Bear?
And how does it feel now? What do you see when you look in the mirror now?
The saggy boobs, the new weight and dress size, the stretch marks, the cesarean scars, the greying hair? What do you say to yourself when you peer back at your new body? “Ugly”, “Chubby”, “Saggy”, “Scarry”? “How can he find me attractive now? He’s just being kind but he can’t mean it.”
Actually stop and think about it. What do you say to yourself?
Maybe you avoid the mirror all together, it’s too depressing.
Maybe you are committed to getting your pre-baby body back as much as possible through exercise, diet and push-up bras.
Maybe you like to think positively and you tell yourself – “yes my body’s different but it’s amazing – just look what it achieved!”
Can I suggest another way?
We need to think about a different body.
A body which, like ours (and much more so), went through torturous pain, undignified exposure and blood-streaked exhaustion. Another body which through it’s own suffering birthed the life of others. A body which sacrificed itself for the benefit of it’s posterity.
And yet here’s the difference, unlike our own birthing experiences, this body was wounded and battered and shamed not to give us an earthly birth but an eternal one.
Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.”
You see, it is through the very wounds of Jesus that we are healed. It it through his sacrificial death in our place that we receive forgiveness and eternal life. It is precisely because of his suffering that we get blessing. In short, his wounds are the means of our salvation.
Those nail-pierced hands and feet and that spear-wounded side were for our salvation. Jesus blood was spilt for us so that we can be in a right relationship with God. Jesus died the death that we should have died, so that we can freely live an eternal life with him.
So then, dear mum with an “imperfect” body: if there’s anyone who know’s what it’s like to sacrifice their body for the sake of another, then it’s Jesus. And he says you were worth it.
You weren’t just worth a few stretch marks and a few extra pounds – you were worth him bearing indelible wound marks in his flesh for eternity.
You see, Jesus could have resurrected with a “perfect” body. A spotless, blemish free body. But he didn’t. He rose from the dead still bearing the scars from his crucifixion. Why would this be the case?
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’ A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’”
So why would Jesus choose to bear the marks of the crucifixion after his resurrection, and therefore for the rest of eternity? In the text above we see that it’s in part so that the disciples can identify him as their saviour, and in fact as the God of the universe. But also because Christ’s wounds are his glory. His wounds are the means of our salvation and his wounds are his glory.
Charles Spurgeon beautifully puts it this way:
“Christ wears these sears in his body in heaven as his ornaments. The wounds of Christ are his glories, they are his jewels and his precious things.
Nor are these only the ornaments of Christ: they are his trophies—the trophies of his love. Have you never seen a soldier with a gash across his forehead or in his cheek? Why every soldier will tell you the wound in battle is no disfigurement—it is his honour. “If” said he, “I received a wound when I was retreating, a wound in the back, that were to my disgrace, If I have received a wound in a victory, then it is an honourable thing to be wounded.” Now, Jesus Christ has scars of honour in his flesh and glory in his eyes. He has other trophies. He has divided the spoil with the strong: he has taken the captive away from his tyrant master; he has redeemed for himself a host that no man can number, who are all the trophies of his victories: but these scars, these are the memorials of the fight, and these the trophies, too.”
So dear mum with the stitches, the scars and the stretchmarks, take heart when we see your body in the mirror. Your wounds tell your birthing story and are your honour. As you sacrifice your body for the sake of your children you image your God.
But remember too, that however imperfect your body is, Christ sees you as infinitely valuable and precious – precious enough to die for.
And finally, you can take heart that one day soon, you will stand in the presence of your God and you will actually be perfect. You will stand before him with no blemish or spot, but you will be holy and blameless forever. All because of Christ’s wounds in your place.
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