Fast forward several years to the months after my seventh child's birth. Our whole family was stuck in a hotel room due to repairs being done to our house because of water damage. Why we had water damage to our house is post worthy indeed, but it will suffice to say that we had a particular child that thought it necessary to use a rain forest's worth of toilet paper in one sitting. The toilet rebelled secretly with an hour long water ladened tantrum and now we were all holed up in a hotel room. We watched a lot of TV. One of the shows I happened to catch was "John and Kate Plus Eight" where Kate herself was getting a tummy tuck. I was secretly and horribly intrigued but would instantly appear uninterested when my husband would enter the room. There were before and after pictures of Kate, and before I even realized it, I was sold on the idea. Kate looked amazing! I would agree to stop having children if I could get a tummy that looked like Britney Spears....a tummy where my belly button would re-surface from the dead and come back to life....in the right spot.
Now the tide had changed.
Several days later I approached my husband regarding my idea of getting a tummy tuck. Although his initial approach on this topic did not end in an injury from a book, I had (in my special way) let him know that he was way out of line for mentioning it. I am sure if you asked him today, he would have preferred the book being thrown at him. My mentioning the word "tummy tuck" made him flinch out of self protection. You could tell, as he furtively looked from side to side, that he didn't know if this topic was truly safe to talk about or if I was playing a dirty trick on him. Poor guy. After some discussion, I learned that his offer was still on the table.
Now I had some thinking to do.
I stood in front of the mirror naked. It is definitely not the body I started out with by a long stretch...no pun intended. I dreamed. I studied. I wept as I ran my fingers over every fold, sag and stretch mark. My body's imperfections tell an amazing story and I was considering erasing the proof that it ever happened.
Memories flooded back to every pregnancy I'd had, every child my body nourished, every race I had won and all the abuse I had doled out against my body in my younger years out of stupidity and through addictions. And, yet, my body remained faithful to me throughout all of it. And here I was, contemplating taking a knife to it. What was I doing? It hit me hard. This body of mine. This gift from God. What has it ever done to harm me? Why did I feel the need to slash away at it? My body bore and sustained every child I could hear outside playing and laughing. Why was I now forsaking what has been so faithful to me just so I could subdue society's desire of what I should look like? Why was I buying into this bill of goods? By choosing to cut away and change my appearance, I was treating my body as the enemy and showing shame. Oh how wrong I was to believe these lies.
What would it say to my daughters and sons to know that I had gone under the knife for cosmetic reasons? Would it teach my daughters that their bodies were not fearfully and wonderfully made? Would it teach my sons to encourage their wives to surgically alter themselves if they didn't look "just right"? Would it teach either gender not to be content with what God has gifted them? Would my actions perpetuate the lie I had fallen victim to?
If you can not tell by now, I chose not to have the tummy tuck and ended up bearing three more children. Sorry Kate. I have chosen to see my body as a warrior that God used to protect me and allow me to have the family we have. One of the best gifts the Lord has given me besides salvation is a healthy and resilient body. It has rolls, stretch marks and is a little misshapen....but I am so proud of it. I will never win any beauty contest or turn heads.....but it is my hero. I will be kind to it and not plague myself with desires to desert this soldier of a body only to chop away at it in order to please temporarily.
The most beautiful women I have ever met are all pretty much physically imperfect, some more than others. But they all have an attitude and a heart that is gorgeous......so much so that it is blinding. One of these women once told me "Girl, perfection is overrated. It's all about attitude and earrings".
I would be lying to say that I do not struggle with body image...especially in the postpartum period after having a baby. There is something about having leaking sandbags as breasts that is a little unsettling to me. Sure, I would love to have a knock out body. I don't. I have a body that can knock somebody out which is WAY more handy.
If there is any altering that truly needs to be done in me, it is that of the heart. Lord, I want you to cut away at my heart and my attitude to reflect what you see as true beauty.
1 Samuel 16:7 ESV
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”