One of the biggest struggles I’ve had, since getting pregnant and having Caleb has been my body image. I had never once before had to worry about my weight. After almost 18 years of gymnastics, either training or coaching, I could eat just about anything and it didn’t seem to affect me. After gaining a few pounds from pregnancy, as much as I am unhappy about it, it’s at least something, that if I work hard at, I can reverse. Stretch marks on the other hand, that’s a different story.
You know how people say when you’re pregnant your belly button might “pop” out? It’s always said in a kind of exciting way, a milestone a pregnant lady may achieve. I had many nice ladies ask me, “so has your belly button popped yet?”. What an awkward question! But when mine did pop, it never went back. It’s just basically an inside out belly button, awkwardly stretched long ways and garnished with a nice dark, stretch mark scar right down the middle.
Then there are the stretch marks on the rest of my stomach, hips, and thighs. This is only my first baby! How much worse is it going to get?
In just a few short months I went from feeling more beautiful than I ever had in my life on my wedding day, to feeling worse about myself than I ever have (a great combination when coupled with being newly married). For a little while I was disgusted with myself. In my eyes, these scars did not represent love, they brought me shame and embarrassment, and confusion over why God designed it to be this way.
I came before the Lord and gave Him my hurt, pain and confusion. I told him I didn’t want to be mad about this. So many moms told me their marks brought them joy, a reminder of how they birthed their child into this world. Why didn’t I feel this way? I wanted to, I tried to, but my self-esteem was quickly plummeting.
In this place of brokenness before the Lord, He showed me that we now had a similarity. I could greater understand Him. We both had scars on our body from bringing life to someone. I just brought earthly life to a beautiful boy, while he brought salvation and eternal life to countless numbers. I felt him whisper to me the same things he said to the disciples in Luke 24:39 when he appeared to them after being raised from the dead. “My daughter, look at my hands and my feet.” As I looked at them, I felt him say to me
“I am not ashamed of these scars of love. My children look to me and they will always know the great love I have for them. It is not a sign to me of what I did, but a sign to them. A promise of love. I gave up myself for them.”
Of course, my sacrifice of bringing life to my son was nowhere near the sacrifice Jesus made in bringing life to us. I just share this since I know the Lord spoke it to me to bring comfort to my soul, and I hope it does to you as well.
In a small way I gave up myself for Caleb. I will give up myself again for future babies. Although I’m not sure Caleb will ever ask to look at my stretch marks, they will be a sign for him. A sign to him that I would lay down my life for him, that I would go through pain for him, that I would do anything for him, because he is my son. My body has a promise of love forever tattooed upon it. I don’t need a tattoo of Caleb’s name or something to remind me of him, I will just look at these scars and remember: My child is loved. I will always love my child.
My Jesus loves me. I look at His hands and His feet and I see it. I see the promise of eternal life. I see the sacrifice. I see love, hope and a passionate Savior.