By Lindsey Racz
Confession: I am a recovering perfectionist. Sadly, there have been seasons of my life through which no one and nothing was safe from my raging perfectionistic tendencies—including my body. For many years, I mercilessly and meticulously scrutinized every part of this body I’ve been given. Every. single. inch. Not a one was safe. And because I now work as a therapist specializing in women’s issues, I know I’m not alone.
We, as women, are so very harsh on our bodies. And why wouldn’t we be? We are bombarded with images of perfection. We checkout at the grocery store next to sleek and shimmering bodies on countless magazine covers. We turn on the TV and suddenly our living rooms are paraded by 15-year-old Victoria Secret models. Come on! We think to ourselves. These “women” haven’t even hit puberty. This just isn’t fair! We glance through our Insta-feeds and even the older generation of women we once looked up to are now posting perfectly lit and angled body-selfies. “Wow” we secretly, if not sub-consciously, say to ourselves. “She looks good for her age; I better up my game!” And so, we stand in front of the mirror a little longer in the morning. We try on a few more outfits, hoping to find something that makes us look a bit slimmer. We commit to a Keto diet, a stricter interval training routine, a little more hot yoga, and hope for the best. But it seems the harder we strive, the more behind we feel.
Why is this a losing battle? Because our bodies weren’t created to secure our hearts. Our deepest longings cannot be filled by toned abs or a number on a scale. 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 says this about our bodies:
It’s clear that we are to care for our temples. I’m pro-exercise and pro putting good foods into our bodies; however, the current culture twists these things into a form of idolatry. Look again at 1 Corinthians 6—"your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you.”
Yes, mamas, these bodies are simply shells! Lest we forget why we have them, let us all be reminded. Look down at the body you are sitting in right at this very moment. This seemingly mundane thing (yes, including those thighs that might just have a few stretch marks) is breathing, reading, processing, and beating. It houses the most precious gift we could ever receive—the Holy Spirit. It was not made for criticism or to be used as a tool of seduction. It was not made to get us attention or wear clothing that detracts from our integrity. It was not made to be objectified or beaten down or forced into a size it is not. It was not made for promiscuity. It was not made for starvation. This body you see? It’s a gift, a tool, and a house for the Holy One living in it.
I remember looking into the mirror in horror shortly after arriving home from the hospital following the birth of my second baby girl. The pregnancy was emotionally traumatic as she faced health issues; I had so many things to focus on besides my body. And yet, there I stood. Feeling simultaneously swollen and deflated, hormonal and sad. A pit in my stomach began to form and I wondered if I would ever look or feel like myself again.
But then, God.
Yes, God. He has a way of teaching us in the smallest, quietest moments. He was there with me in that moment full of self-criticism and He gave me an ever-so-gentle word of truth that I’ll never forget.
Do not worry about feeling like ‘yourself’ again, precious daughter. You are more yourself now than ever—you have just been broken and poured out to create a life, just as I was poured out on the cross for you. I was beaten, hung, bloody and unrecognizable, all so that you could live.
As mamas (biological or adoptive), we pour out our bodies each and every day to take care of our littles. Our hearts break for them in prayer. We are tugged on, stretched out and run ragged by emptying ourselves into the gifts that have been entrusted to us. Let us thank GOD for these bodies that allow us to do these mama-warrior tasks! Let us care deeply but not obsessively for these soul-houses of ours. Let us use up every ounce of our youth on God’s purposes instead of desperately clinging to it. Let us stop comparing and start sharing the light of the One who lives within.
Cheers to our ever-changing, gravity-succumbing, Holy Spirit-dwelling mom bods, fellow mamas. We truly wouldn’t be here without them; they are a gift to be cherished and embraced for as long as we all shall live.