"It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught to be sorry for."
- Amy Poehler
Every woman has a journey to love and accept her body. This is my observation anyhow. Some of us have faced difficult battles and have intensely painful stories as we learn to love ourselves well. A few of us have less scars but still know the battle. And sadly, there are those of us who will never reach the point where we can extend the love and hospitality we readily give to others—to ourselves.
I don't know a woman who doesn’t have a story or a scar from their quest to find peace with their body.
In this most recent period of my life, I've found myself drawn to and marked by the concept of living as the beloved. Henri Nouwen is just one of the beautiful souls who expanded on this biblical idea and it's a notion filled to the brim with redemption. This idea has become so dear to me, because it represents a fullness of my identity I can’t articulate any other way. Graciously, this concept has also extended to how I see my very flesh. It has meant a flexibility and a lovingness toward my own skin and bones. It has produced an internal gentleness toward my imperfect body in a culture of contrived perfection-- an experience I never knew at a younger age.
Pregnancy has presented an interesting component to this journey though. Somewhere in this process of growing a small person, a part of me felt unsettled with my body. I felt mad that it didn’t do this or that anymore. I felt frustrated I had gained so much weight in a month. I felt fatigued and disconnected and frankly, not so loving toward it. I felt grateful to be growing a baby (finally), but I rigidly wondered at times why it didn’t conform to the way I wanted it to go.
I clearly remember the day where I felt so overwhelmed with frustration at my body. I noticed hot tears run down my cheeks because I didn’t want to feel this way.
And then somewhere in me a small voice whispered:
Be kind—right now. Be loving in this precise moment. This is the opportunity, when you’re in the middle of the muck. Not after or later, but now.
And so, in earnest (and feeling a touch self conscious), I began to thank my body and the God who made it for what it had done:
Thank you for growing my sweet girl.
Thank you for feeling joy.
Thank you for allowing me to taste food, and hear music, and move.
Thank you for going through miscarriage.
Thank you for holding so much pain.
Thank you for letting me feel.
And then--thank you Jesus for making this body. Thank you Lord that you love me now when I feel frumpy and tired and big and old.
I’m proud of you body.
And when I was done, nothing was different; except the posture in my own heart. I realized I was treating myself as the beloved, as how God loves me. I was treating myself with his kindness toward me in a place of vulnerability.
And he was the voice inviting me to give love.
I don’t think we ever graduate from needing the kindness of a God who made us and loves us. I’m certain I will always need his saving grace. And I’m convinced as ever that we don’t “arrive” at our finish line of perfection in this life.
We are broken.
He is healing us.
Each crack gets revealed and slowly we see ourselves as he sees us.