All beautiful you are my darling, there is no flaw in you.
Song of Songs 4:7

It seems pretty absurd to believe we are without flaw, doesn’t it?

Massive cultural and financial structures are built on us believing there is something wrong with us; that we must destroy and annihilate all these “flaws” on our bodies through surgery and chemicals and anything else we can buy. We are told by 1,000s of songs, commercials, movies, magazines, and actual people, how we “should” be and how we are definitely NOT.  We are all aware of every possible physical flaw.

To hear a message that we are already all beautiful is so foreign a concept that it feels false and trite and rather stupid. Ask anyone at anytime today and they can tell you one thing about themselves that is decidedly ugly. If you’re silly enough, you can ask and they’ll tell you something about you too.

And if you are like me, you still remember the things people said were wrong with your body years and years ago.

Because of all this, even starting this conversation feels like a waste of time. No matter how much I tell you that you are beautiful and formed perfectly, all it takes is one magazine cover or a boyfriend’s inattention or callous comment and you could be lost again. I know. I know. 

I want to undo my brainwashing (more on brainwashing tomorrow).  So, I am starting with one item at a time and relearning the truth about myself. 

If I am brutally honest, my biggest struggle recently is that most days I see my stretch marks as a failure. I am an embarrassment. Some mothers have abs of steel but I do not. We applaud and congratulate those without stretch marks or evidence of birthing a baby.  This leads me to believe showing physical evidence of birthing a child (well, other than the actual child walking around) is a bad thing. No one is congratulating each other for having stretch marks.  There’s no “SWEET Stretch Marks, Nicole!” high five! 

Even when I work out and weigh my healthiest weight, they are still there… the scars… the ugliness…the lack of high fives. 

I read that bible verse, supposedly a word from God, and I do not agree with it at all….

 

“All beautiful you are my darling, there is no flaw in you.”

Well that’s just B.S.

There are things about us that are absolutely not beautiful… how can we reconcile those lovely words of scripture with the beliefs we currently have about ourselves?  I disagree with God … and where I disagree with God, it’s pretty obvious who is wrong, but how do I deal with this?

In the end, what has most helped me is the story I tell myself – the way I frame the truth. I can tell a story of a girl living in a world where stretch marks are hideous and an obvious failure of character. (I lack discipline, money for the proper creams, and the love of God that delivers hot abs.) Or I can tell a story of a girl living in a new kind of world, one where the rules are upside down … and everyone is beautifully made, we just can’t see it yet.

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Imagine this story:

One night my little girls are snuggled in their beds. The blankets curl around small, soft bodies. Stuffed animals of every variety litter their floor. My husband and I sleep soundly in our room, my right foot touching his leg as we sleep.

Suddenly the room is full of smoke. Fire. There’s a fire in our house but not in our room. Our room is full of smoke and I can hardly see. I already have a headache and cannot find the door. My husband is not in bed, he must have jumped up and run out without thinking. I stumble to the patio slider to open it and let out smoke before running deeper into the house for the girls. Before I can even get to their room, my husband climbs out, carrying the two most precious things we will ever know – our girls. They are crying but alive, barely burnt. As the sirens approach, I look at my husband and see that he is collapsing on the ground, badly burned. He gave our girls life but he will be forever scarred by the experience.

A year later, we are together and healthy and happy. My husband has healed, but he has scars on his face and arms. They no longer physically hurt but they will always be a visual reminder of that night. They are warped and rough. I run my fingers gently on his cheek as we kiss and I know two things to be true: my husband is brave and when our girls needed him, he gave them life. Every time my fingers touch his scars, I am filled with so much respect and gratitude that I can hardly contain my love for him, my husband who gave our kids life when no one else could.

****

Imagine if I saw my own scars like the ones my husband has in that story. Imagine if I saw my scars as a source of pride and love. These scars that I carry because I gave my kids life, they are beautiful. I risked my own body and life in order to give them theirs. We take pregnancy and birth lightly now, but they are not light at all. They are acts of bravery and power and generosity.  The physical evidence of being a mom is not shameful, it is gorgeous. 

What if every time I ran my fingers over my scars, I was proud? What if I allowed my husband to love my scars, to feel proud of me and respect and love me even more for them and not in spite of them?

We all carry scars – both physical and psychic. Freckles on our faces from days in the sun. Tears that spring up when we see a father yell at a child. Small lines of scar tissue on a thigh.  Surgeries, accidents, acts of bravery or despair …  We carry them with shame when we really are allowed to carry them with honor. Our scars tell our story. We just need to frame it differently.  We are allowed to celebrate and lament and celebrate again.

So today,

If you love your spouse despite her body or her face, you have some serious work to do with your Maker.

If you love yourself despite your scars… if they shame you and make you want to hide… it’s time to tell yourself a new story.

We are loved by a God who is not ashamed of scars. We are loved by a Creator who carries His scars past death and into New Life – past resurrection and into Heaven on Earth – who asks friends to touch them and know who He is BECAUSE of His scars.

Grace and Peace to you today, Beautiful Friend. 

Wanna see my beautiful scars?! Hi five!