This morning in the shower I almost lost balance. My body feels so awkward as it stretches and grows, expanding to make space for the life inside me. It’s hard sometimes. One moment I am filled with joy at the thought of my coming baby, the next I just feel awkward and fat.
Yesterday I watched an interview with my favorite angst-filled 90’s singer Alanis Morissette, talking about her experience being pregnant and giving birth. She candidly shared how her whole life she did everything she could to ignore the fact she had a body. She didn’t want to confront it head on, for the insecurity would be too much. Everything she did was to transcend.
We’ll love you just the way you are
If you’re perfect
But, as Alanis discovered, there is no escaping your body when you are pregnant.
I understand. I never felt comfortable in my skin. As a kid, I was the definition of gangly. I was painfully shy and just wanted to disappear into the background, but my tall stature prevented that. I suffered from deep fear and insecurity and it showed in my bent posture and awkward hand placement. I resented my body and all the space it took. I wished I was tiny because that’s how I felt.
It wasn’t until my early twenties that I actually began to believe I was beautiful. It wasn’t that a man convinced me, or repeating some spiritual incantation about how God made me special.
It took God, showing me outside myself to see within myself.
It took me understanding the root of my childhood fear, and understanding Grace in Jesus to have grace on myself.
It took me finally loving my life to see that it was beautiful.
I know we all struggle with the way we see ourselves. There are so many books and blogs on body image, especially for girls.
But maybe the answer to this self-esteem crisis isn’t repeating some kind of chant or putting make-up on, or taking it off.
Maybe it isn’t found in the compliments of others, in using or hating Photoshop, in blaming magazine editors for our false view of what being pretty means.
Maybe it isn’t even in repeating bible verses about how wonderfully made we are, and convincing ourselves we really believe it.
Maybe the real way to finally accept your body image is to begin to realize what a miracle this vessel we were given is.
Maybe the way to love yourself is to allow yourself to be in awe at the way your eyes are reading these words and your brain is processing them.
I’ve decided to forget about self-esteem and focus instead on esteeming life.
Because when I quit comparing myself to others and realize each person is a miracle, I can’t help but love myself and those around me.
Our blood flows, our brain sends messages.
These systems inside us are vastly complex and creative.
We feel and stretch and smile.
We love and go through loss and get sick and heal.
We invent and create art and societies and make babies.
We are alive.
I am reading an autobiography of a boy who is almost completely paralyzed. He typed the book with a stick in his mouth. He is stuck in his chair, unable to talk or hardly move.
And yet, he is not confined. He is not limited.
His imagination more than compensates for his lack of physical movement.
In his mind, he travels and soars.
He is not stuck.
It’s time to stop believing the lie that we are stuck.
I am not stuck.
You are not stuck.
Whether you are bursting with new life, maybe a baby or a dream,
or you feel all weathered up and used, and are just going through the motions,
Your life is a miracle.
Lately, I place one hand on my heart and one on my growing belly.
I breathe in deep and close my eyes and imagine my child.
Kicking, smiling, growing, anticipating entering this brilliant world.
A unique being, alive and breathing. Thinking and feeling.
I know then, that even if I gain one hundred more pounds and the hair on my head falls out, even when lines and marks on my body stretch out, and half-moons grow darker under my eyes,
I am and will always be beautiful.
Because life is a miracle, and I get to partake in it.