For the Mom Struggling with Body Image
Updated: Jun 15
I'm two years postpartum and I still haven't lost the baby weight.
Looking in the mirror, I see the folds of my stretched belly pouring over my ugly c-section scar. An abundance of stretch marks creep up my thighs and web out across my stomach. I have extra weight in my face, my arms, my stomach, my legs. It was okay at first. I had just had my fourth baby and fourth c-section. I could give myself some grace. But weeks passed. And months. And years. And things are still the same.
This season of motherhood can be downright exhausting. Mothering littles is such a physically demanding task. Breastfeeding, lack of sleep, carrying the baby around everywhere, chasing and wrangling toddlers...it's all challenging. We can try to eat right or plan to work out, but sometimes it's just hard to stay motivated when you are physically drained, mentally tired, and sleep deprived.
After my first child, the weight melted right off. I was 21-years-old with an amazing metabolism and lots of energy.
Fast--forward ten years. I had my fourth child at 31-years-old. I am homeschooling two older kids and scrambling to meet the needs of two little toddlers. I'm exhausted. I'm tired. I have no energy. I'm running on empty. My decision-making and self-discipline abilities are fogged by little sleep and little real rest.
A traumatic postpartum year didn't help. For a full year after birth, I suffered from severe anxiety and panic attacks. One of the solutions to help bring me out of a state of panic was to eat, which lead me to stuffing my face, which lead me to a very unhealthy relationship with food. When I tried to exercise during that postpartum period, it would obviously raise my heart rate, but a racing heart was one of the symptoms of a panic attack, so I would feel panicked that I was panicking and it was a downward spiral from there.
I've had to slowly convince myself it will be okay if I work out. I started with Beachbody workouts then gradually moved to Peloton workouts and now I'm running many mornings to my worship playlist and it's been truly wonderful and I think I've finally found my groove.
I've had to slowly convince myself that I won't have a panic attack if I don't eat heavily and frequently.
But even though I've gradually gotten stronger and less afraid, I haven't noticed much of a change in the mirror or on the scale.
In addition, I'm struggling with the amount of stretch marks, scars, and wrinkles that come with four children and aging. It's hard to look in the mirror or see yourself in a picture and not like what you see. I've always struggled with my appearance and no matter how many "love your body!" encouragements are yelled at me, I still wrestle with maintaining a positive body image.
Thankfully, as children of God, we can be reminded of these truths:
1. We can be reminded that we are
“fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139:14),
"made in the image of God" (Genesis 1:27), and
"are God's handiwork" (Ephesians 2:10).
2. We can be reminded that our bodies, like Jesus's, have been worn and torn out of love and service for others.
3. We can be reminded that what God values is different than what people value. It's hard to remember this when we are scrolling Instagram and see people who just had babies looking perfect and beautiful, but God isn't scrolling. He's examining the heart.
In the Bible, it says,
The LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart" (1Samuel 16:7).
God is looking on the inside. Are we faithful? Do we have integrity? Are we obedient? Do we have strong character? Are we seeking Him? Are we leaning on Him? Are we relying on Him? Does he have our heart?
That's what God cares about. He cares about our heart.
Scripture reminds us that
"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised" (Proverbs 31:30).
If we are fearing the LORD, God says we are to be praised! All around you people are "liking" and applauding those who are fit and gorgeous, but the only one who matters, God Himself, cares if we fear Him.
We may have permanent stretch marks, but we can still praise Jesus.
We may have bags under our eyes, but we can still draw near to God.
We may have saggy skin, but we can still have strong character.
We may have a c-section scar or a tear, but we can still obey Christ.
We may have wrinkles, but we can still walk in faithfulness.
We may have a messy bun, but we can still read our Bible.
We may have not lost the baby weight, but we can still love the LORD.
God sees us. He sees our hearts. He sees our obedience. He hears our praise. And He applauds us and loves us, stretch marks and all.