My youngest son turned four years old last Friday. We adopted him through foster care. He is stunningly handsome, curly wisps of brown hair spiral behind his ears just after a fresh haircut. His caramel coloring is luscious, just a few shades darker than his four brothers’ slightly paler skin.
You can ask me almost anything about him. Is he smart? Does he love his brothers like they are his own? Did he have any problems bonding with your family? Is he, well, you know, normal?
And I will willingly answer all of those questions. My husband answers even more enthusiastically than I do. When asked about our youngest, his daddy exuberates pride like Superman beams fiery optic blasts to remind the world that justice is at hand.
But I cannot answer questions about his biological mother.
Please don’t ask me about her. She is precious and beautiful and probably wrecked by the decisions she has made. Her years are too close to mine for me to distance her as “too young to get pregnant” or “too immature to know what she was doing.” I have seen her pictures and know her story. At least as much of her story as a notebook log of CPS investigations was willing to hand over on his adoption ceremony day.
But you know what? It doesn’t really matter if my son came to us through the state system or if he came from Africa or through a Romanian orphanage that barely held itself together through war-torn, barely pieced together 21st-century political strife.
What does matter is that his mother carried him in her womb. She held him as close to her body as her steady heartbeat when nothing else was steady in her life. It matters that she chose to keep him.
She made a decision, for at least the length of 240 days, to keep his delicate, developing body in her womb. It matters that she sacrificed her physical comfort and potential opportunities to keep him until the Lord willed his living body be born into the Earth.
So you can understand why I cannot tell you her story.
Her story is hers to tell, and her son’s story to share, if he feels so compelled and strong one day to elaborate. Theirs is a linked history that I am not privy to divulge. It is my son’s privilege to be a part of a narrative that is devastated by trauma and simultaneously blessed by redemption. Blessed by redemption because my husband and I, his adoptive family, choose to teach him about the all-embracing, grace-filled love of Jesus. By God’s mercy, we choose Jesus as the only Way, the only Truth, the only Life. Every waking moment.
As I look back on 2018, on the #metoo movement, on the Aly Raisman testimony, on the Kavanaugh-Ford hearings, I can’t help but remember exactly why I started writing on female body image, here. I was moved by my own experience, sure. My own very sad choice to starve my girl-body in search of happiness, not even knowing exactly that joy was possible.
But the real reason I started writing here, and did so with continued passion in 2018, was because of what I want for her — his mother.
His mothers. Her and Myself. Both of us.
I started writing about how God’s truth impacts how we live in and love our female bodies because WE needed to know the Truth. Her. Me. And You.
I want mothers to know how abundantly God treasures and generously loves the female body. We must hold fast to the truth. No matter how “awfully” we sin in the bodies we’ve been given, the gift of redemption is offered to all of us. And believe it is possible by choosing Jesus Christ.
“For God so loved the [whole, entire] world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” -John 3:16
This truth holds high a light for all of us, flaming a desire for change. As we look to the year ahead, Christian women, we are called to invite all women into community for the sake of God’s generous love. Better yet, might we be moved by the Holy Spirit to embrace the prostitute, the lonely, the diseased, the addicted, even the persecuted?
This invitation is a change from what most of us feel comfortable speaking about in Bible study huddles. It pricks the palms of our hands, where we imagine our souls. This invitation heats some of our necks and faces. We become nervous and angsty.
Becoming more intimate with women who live “differently” than us is risky. It is not safe, but it is what Jesus came for.
It is who Jesus came for. For all girls. For all women.
For every mother — no matter our story.
Join me in 2019 as we begin the new year exploring practical ways to help girls and women generously love their God-given bodies.
A version of this post originally appeared on juleetaharvey.com, published with permission.