Thursday, September 17, 2015

Becoming Presentable

I turn on the tap, hot at first and then temper it til it's just right. Sweaty work out clothes slip to the floor and I glance in the mirror before my image vanishes in the steam. 31 years old, seven kids. Yep, that's me.

This summer I'm stronger than I've been since I held a scholarship for ballet performance at a university in the south. Yesterday at the apple orchard, I noticed that carrying the baby in the carrier and the toddler on my shoulders didn't knock the wind out of me. I feel strong. I feel able. I feel equal to the physicality that my vocation requires of me. I'm sleeping well. I'm feeling healthy.

And yet there's that softness around my middle that just won't disappear. 12 years, 7 pregnancies, skin pulled taut and deflated each time - it shows. Not in thick red stretch marks, but in that softness that hides the definition in my muscles that I've been working hard on. It's almost enough to make me want to throw in the towel, but something stops me.

Unbidden, it echoes in my mind. "You're a living sacrifice."

Where have I heard that before? I toss clothes in the hamper and head down to start another load of laundry, turning it over in my mind before finding it. Yes, here it is:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--this is your true and proper worship.

Romans 12:1

It's easy to forget, isn't it? In this world of airbrushed instagrams, we struggle. Hoping to be a refuge for our spouses in a world that threatens to tug their attentions away, we try to be presentable. Lovely. Yet we aren't exempt from comparisons and the cruel reality is that the current model of accepted attractiveness is not one naturally attainable by most of us. 

Mamas, avoid getting caught up. The sad and stale truth of that world is that the loveliness is all superficial. Here's a popular lyric of a current song:

"Bodies, our baby-making bodies we just use for fun.
Bodies, let's use em up til every little piece is gone."

Contrast that to the verse above. Which do you choose? To be used up til there is nothing left? Or to present yourself as a living sacrifice, bearing the marks of holy love?

My stomach will never again look like it did before babies, no matter how hard I work. And yet, there's something there that nothing but love and acceptance and self sacrifice can grow. It's reserved only for those who take up the mantle of motherhood and dare to stand up strong beneath it, sure of their worth beyond what is seen. 

This culture only cares about use and discarding. The scramble to stay relevant is futile.

God says your sacrifices make you beautiful, holy and pleasing. Because of you, the world is blessed with a beauty and strength that superficiality could never compete with.

My body grew 7 unique and gifted people. Souls for heaven, hearts for earth. This broken vessel they grew in? Is God approved.

What more could I ask for?

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