Every year, I experience a rude disruption to my enjoyment of the pleasant spring weather. In April and early May I relish the time outdoors. I enjoy the warm sun, the blooming flowers, the singing birds. . .
Then, all of a sudden, serenity is disrupted. With an obnoxious: Buzz. Buzz. Buzz. Memorial Day arrives to make this announcement:
Buzz. Buzz. Buzz. This is the Emergency Broadcast System. We interrupt your delightful Spring to bring you this important announcement. Swimsuit season is coming in quickly from the South. Please prepare yourself appropriately or take immediate cover in an air- conditioned location. This is not a test.
Summer is here and now I am expected to trade in my maxi dresses for swimwear. Like, all of the time. Fabulous!
I didn’t really like donning pool attire in my B.C. (before children) days either. But since my abs have accommodated four pregnancies, my boobs have deflated to nourish those same children, and my legs have added girth to make sure that the weight I now carry around my middle is appropriately supported, wearing a bathing suit in public ranks just below “four kids with a stomach bug” on the list of things I enjoy.
Last year, I came up with a brilliant idea to solve my annual swimwear issue. I’d buy a super cute swim dress. I pictured how stylish it would look–in a retro, Marilyn Monroe circa 1950 sort of way. The dress would cover my thighs and middle, be modest, and, likely adorable. I grabbed a few off the department store rack and excitedly rushed to the dressing room.
I looked a whole lot more like that crabby, 80-year-old woman on the Shoebox Greetings Cards, than any vintage sex symbol. It was just. plain. bad.
At this point, I realized I had four choices for the swim season ahead. I could:
1) Become a “yoga pants at the pool” mom. You know, the one whom you will never see in swim attire even when it’s 107 degrees out;
2) Research “How to Lose 10 Pounds in a Week” and do that, every week until Labor Day;
3) Raid the kids’ college funds and get a tummy tuck, boob job, and liposuction; or
4) Figure out a way to enjoy summer activities without stressing over the imperfect state of my body.
I chose number four.
If you are looking ahead to swimsuit season with trepidation too, then, never fear. Help is here. You see, moms, I think there are actions we can take to prepare our hearts for the summer that will help us in ways that changing our bodies never could.
I’ll admit it won’t be super easy. But, hey, neither is that starvation diet, recovery from plastic surgery, or sweating your tail end off on the pool deck in black lycra capris and an oversized tee.
Here are the three ways we can prepare our hearts for swimsuit season:
1) Cease Comparison. Want to change the course of your swimsuit shopping, or, hey, your whole summer? Don’t look at the tag with the picture of the model wearing the suit. In fact don’t look at pictures of women in swimsuits, anywhere. I’m dead serious. Don’t even glance at them. Not on Facebook. Not in magazines. Not on television. Comparison’s needle pricks us over and again with every perfect swimsuit model image we digest until we bleed out every last drop of joy.
Truth: You may not look like she does in a swimsuit. But, can I ask, Why do you care? Life is not a beauty pageant where the mom who rocks the tankini best wins. We need to keep our eyes on what’s important–loving and serving God and our families. We need to stay focused on His greater purpose for our lives. The best news: You don’t have to wear a certain size or look like a cover model to do this well.
2) Love Jesus Not Cellulite. Feel bad about not loving your post-baby body? Don’t! The Bible doesn’t say you have to love your body. In fact, all those folks telling you to take “pride” in your body and “flaunt it to find freedom” are sending you down a dead end path. Don’t waste time and energy learning to admire your physique or trying to get a shape you think you could love more. Pride, even in one’s appearance, is never the Bible’s answer for any problem.
Instead, spend less time thinking about how you look or standing in front of the full-length mirror analyzing every dimple and curve. Dedicate more time to focusing on God, His word, and His incredible love for you. It’s amazing. When you worry more about reflecting his image than perfecting your own, you can truly be free from your body image issues.
3) Believe the Gospel. Mom, you may know all the words to “Jesus Loves Me” but do you actually believe them? Do you truly understand that God’s love for you is so incredible and unconditional that he’d give his only son for you? Do you accept that you are valuable to Him no matter what your body type or size? Do you believe that his opinion matters more than any man’s (or woman’s) here on earth?
I think we’ll all be better able to enjoy this summer, bathing attire and all, if we can internalize this truth: the King of the Universe loves us just the way we are.
So, mamas? It’s time to get over ourselves and get our swimsuits ON. Let’s embrace who we are in Christ – and start having fun in the water with our kiddos this summer.