Stretch Marks and Baggy Eyes
The other day I sat down with my son to read a book before bed. I reached to grab Brown Bear Brown Bear, and as I pulled it out I looked at its sad state. The binding was missing, the thick pages dented in several places, and it was about to fall apart. I sighed as I wondered if our third child would have any books left to read!
As I thought about all of my children’s books with the covers falling off, the pages hanging on by half a staple, and the accidental rips- I wondered if I should feel guilty for my failings or lack of stricter rules about books.
But when I thought about most of the damage, I decided I could not feel guilty. These were not the consequences of a destructive baby- they were the result of books well loved. Books that were excitedly carried from room to room by a 13 month old beaming. Books whose pages were turned again and again as the pictures came alive and put a smile on my kids’ faces. Books that were read over and over again so much so that my 3 1/2 year can recite the entire thing to her brother. Books that were treasured. Books that were loved. Books that were used. Most importantly, through their heavy, beaten, and worn use- they serve an even greater purpose of fostering a love of reading for my children- something I don’t and won’t regret.
My heart poured over these tattered books, and I could not help but notice a little differently the giant stretched belly before me; the arms full of scars and cuts from 28 years of life; the aching calves in compression stockings that are necessary after three pregnancies; and the tired eyes with bags and wrinkles underneath them. Maybe you feel this way too- but sometimes I can feel like one of those tattered old books. My body feels worn- dented, ripped, and taped back together again. There are times I find myself feeling guilty- wondering what I need to do differently- thinking of all the ways I can regain what once was.
Oh, but dear friends- take heart, God lovingly leads us back to his truth. Our bodies? They are being treasured. They are being loved. They are being used. Our stomachs may be stretched and scarred- but it is because it has given of itself for the growth of another life. Our faces may be wrinkled, but they are so from years filled with laughter and tears with the people God has placed around us. Our eyes may be baggy, but they are so because they have given up countless hours of sleep in order to care for another person. Our hands may be calloused- but they have gotten that way through years of working, helping, cleaning, washing, baking, driving, and giving.
Our bodies? They are being treasured. They are being loved. They are being used.
And most importantly- just like those books- through their blemished, imperfect, and beat up use- they are serving an even greater purpose- a purpose we can never or will never feel guilty about. They are cultivating in our children, in our friends, our family- a deeper love and awe for God.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (emphasis mine)
Not only does our service give glory to God- but we get to model the attitude and actions of our Savior to the people around us through these tired, worn bodies!
“Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28
Next time we find ourselves feeling down about our worn out body- let’s stand back up- thankful– thankful and humbled that God has given us the chance to have our bodies be broken for others. Let’s remind ourselves of the mission, and rejoice to use these tattered, worn out bodies to accomplish it.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be that neat and pristine book on the nightstand that nobody ever reads. Our time here is far too short to waste it like that. I want to love, I want to serve, and I want to be used.
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