"My face is stupid."
He said this to me completely out of the blue. There was no context, just the blunt awareness of a seven year old’s heart.
“It begins...” I thought.
"Oh honey. Your face is not stupid. Your face, your body, your incredibly unique design is the exact opposite of stupid.
It reflects so much brilliance.
It testifies of an intelligence that boggles the mind.
It portrays a level of love that we can hardly comprehend.
The fact that God cared enough to design you differently than anyone else should make you bask in feelings of belonging. If it were us doing the creating, how many times would we just press 'copy and paste'? That one turned out great, so I’ll just repeat it.
But no, he turns his full attention to the creation of every individual. He has intent for placing things where they are. For the colors. The textures. The shapes.
He does not have accidents.
And on top of all that, I think you’re marvelous!"
"See what great love the father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!" 1 John 3:1
These were the thoughts and words that my heart bled out for my sweet seven year old son.
Deep down, each and every one of us wants to feel special and perfect. To be accepted. We say we’d like to be unique, but we’re simultaneously craving to look like a certain standard.
This was fairly easy for me to say to my son whom I love, and to anyone else for that matter.
But then I started noticing I tended toward the exact same thoughts.
As moms, we’re barely in front of the camera. We’re the ones behind it, capturing the special moments and filling up our storage banks with random photos of our family. But the moment we step in front of the camera... all hell breaks loose. Quite literally. The lies about our beauty, our unique design, and the intelligence that went into our creation come shooting straight in.
When was the last time you saw a picture of yourself with your family and were completely ambivalent to the way you looked? Ever?
Here’s what happens...your eyes go straight to your own face and body and start ripping it apart. “It’s so boxy, so fat, my hair is pulled too tight, my chin is crooked, my eyes are beady, and my neck looks thick. Ugh.” We're convinced that every photo of ourselves looks like our driver's license photo.
How do I know this so well? Because I caught myself doing this exact thing recently. We took a family picture, and instead of noticing the joy of our family together, my eyes went directly to myself...to see how I turned out in the picture.
And in fact, I had all those precise thoughts about my own face. My heart heard the lies. I believed them. I indulged them. And I should have run the other way, straight into the arms of truth. What did I say to my son when he said his face looked stupid? Yes, all those words. Apparently, I need to hear them, too.
(The ridiculous thing is that these pictures are always taken during happy moments. And they ruin it.)
Momma, the way we view our own bodies leaves a legacy...for good or bad.
The other day I saw a picture of a friend's young teenage daughter. She was with her family by the water, and she was wearing a swimsuit. In a flash, I could see it. This sweet, beautiful young woman was sucking her belly in for the picture. Her rib cage and shoulders were lifted and her belly button was pulled in... for the trained eye, it's a dead giveaway for an artificial tummy tuck.
The realization of what this girl must already be thinking about her body made me so sad. What's even more sad was that it didn't surprise me at all. Her mom is a career dieter and has lived a life of body-obsession right in front of her daughter's eyes.
It's no wonder this fourteen year old is starting to do it, too.
It Stops Here.
The next time I see myself in a picture (or even the mirror!) I have to drop these thoughts. This self-criticism has to stop. Instead of negativity, I choose to see something different. And until I fully believe and abide in the truths about my body, my struggle with these lies will brush off on my kids. They will struggle with their own sense of identity and purpose in their own bodies as much as I do.
“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart." Jeremiah 1:5
These are the thoughts and feelings I want to foster:
“Look at us as a family! We’re beautiful!”
“Sure bud, let me take a picture with you! And I don’t even care if it’s not my best angle.”
“Let’s take pictures and just be ourselves and enjoy the moment together!”
This can all get tricky if you have goals. Are you working hard to lose some weight and get healthier? Your kids need to witness a healthy, God-honoring attitude about food, exercise, and your journey. Here are some things to think about as they watch you go through this process:
Leaving a legacy.
Motherhood leaves a legacy, for better or worse. You cannot avoid it. Your children will learn straight from you first about how to treat their body, talk about their body, and love their body.
Let's make sure that, as moms, we're first believing the truth about our own bodies and allowing our hearts to change in this area. And then, let's impart these truths to our kids. In a hard, broken and fallen world, our kids need to witness firsthand how to pursue fitness and nutrition differently.
What legacy are you leaving?
"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me!"
Work with me!
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