I am not a size two. I never have been. Even back in the day when I was seventeen and tan and sun-bleached blonde and (as I perceive myself from a distance) basically my “ideal” self, I wore a size eight jeans. That’s my littlest. These hips do not get littler.
I had a nurse tell me once (years before I ever had kids), “Honey, you were made for child-bearing.”
Comments like that never bothered me much. I liked my hips okay.
Until I had kids.
And the hips got bigger.
And so did everything else.
And suddenly I found myself looking in the mirror at a stranger. A tired, squishy stranger. When I passed mirrors in stores, I didn’t even recognize myself.
I’ve lost most of the baby weight over the past four years, but my body’s not the same as it was…
I attended a ladies retreat on identity last weekend and had the chance to speak a little, to offer prompts that might lead to full-hearted worship. The title was “Who am I” and so we read from Exodus 3 where Moses, standing barefooted before a fire-lit fantasy of a bush, says to the Almighty God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
It’s a good question in the face of so much power and glory—“Who am I?” But it’s a flawed question, too. Because, as Moses learns, his question actually underestimates God’s power to work through His flawed people.
In Exodus 4 Moses tries to get out of God’s calling. He says he’s not much of a public speaker.
God, almost fuming, says (I imagine, exasperated), “Who made your mouth?”
We women tend to pick fights with our bodies. We scrutinize them. We complain about them. We subject them to ridiculous, unsustainable diet fads. We pinch and push and cram them into shape wear. We straight-iron them and paint them and lie in radiation cylinders to bronze them. We compare them to other bodies, bodies we’d rather have, bodies of women who want other bodies still.
I have a friend (with a lovely body, mind you) who hopes we don’t have the same bodies in Heaven. Because, honestly, one lifetime with this thing is enough.
While blow drying my hair into obedience last night I asked my husband if I had any greys (I didn’t think I did). He looked closely and found one. Well, he found a white one. And then I found ten more. And I started cry-laughing because I may be the only white-haired woman in America who developed thirteen new pimples overnight.
And then there’s the hips…
Making peace with my body is hard.
But it’s important. Because the tension of living in a body you hate is unbearable. Because if you can’t embrace your body, you will forever feel uncomfortable and flawed and not enough. And if you spend yourself in the pursuit of a body that just isn’t what you’ve been given, you will exhaust resources God intended for His glory, pouring your heart and life into an empty, un-win-able war.
You will find yourself turning down God Himself and the full life He offers because you don’t have confidence in the body He made.
When I read about Moses, so incapable of seeing past his own in-capabilities, and about God, so frustrated with Moses’ blinding awareness of his “flaws,” I wonder if maybe God isn’t up in Heaven pulling out his hair, yelling through cupped hands, “Jennifer! Who made your hips?”
God made my body. And God will use my body, just exactly as it is. Who am I to long for another?
Drew Barrymore once said this:
God made a very obvious choice when he made me voluptuous; why would I go against what he decided for me? My limbs work, so I’m not going to complain about the way my body is shaped.
Maybe you’re thinking, “Yeah, but…”
Maybe you’re thinking acceptance leads to complacency and ill health and laziness.
Maybe you’re thinking “Score! Jennifer just gave me permission to eat a bag of Reese’s Cups.”
Here’s something I’m sure of: People who fully realize the gift of their bodies, the power of God to work through them and in them, take care of those bodies. They use them and fuel them. They eat real food and take walks and play with their kids and grandkids and swim in the lake.
It’s when we hate our bodies, when we forget what a blessing they are, that we over-eat or under-eat or ill-eat. It’s when we doubt our bodies that we sit out of the pickup basketball game or avoid the gym out of embarrassment.
Accepting our bodies isn’t about accepting our bad habits or addictions. It’s about choosing to live fully in the bodies we can’t help but care for.
I made a list today of things my body can do and it got very long very quickly…
“My hands make me coffee, separating filters between fingertips and spooning ground beans, pouring water, stirring. They type words that begin in the passageways of my brain and travel through complex systems to fingers, agile and quick.”
“My legs carry me out the front door, knees and thighs and calves and feet working in harmony to scale steps and then to run beside my girls on their bikes.”
“My hips hold babies, friends’ babies now, my babies then, perfect seats for tiny bottoms.”
“My eyes see. They see! They open up to an unfolding world and catch every color and complexity of shape and shade so that I perceive, in sunsets and smiles and folded laundry, the very face of God.”
My body is amazing. It is uniquely made and uniquely gifted and uniquely weak. God made it for His glory and His purposes, and I will delight in it. I will praise God with it and because of it.
Just as it is.