Well, it’s here again. That wonderful season where bathing beauties fill the covers of our favorite magazines announcing the latest and greatest styles for summer swimwear and apparel. Are you excited? Yeah, me neither!! I know there’s a greater announcement that God wants me to hear – that created in His image and likeness, my swimsuit needs only to embrace the Son bathing He can give.
As I stand in the grocery line, I’m surrounded by magazine covers boasting perfectly sculpted models with dramatic tans, leisurely basking in the sun of a picture-perfect island. For most of us, this is a far cry from our reality. I don’t know about you, but after five pregnancies, my body is far from perfectly sculpted and after the time I’ve spent in my backyard garden or at a sporting event -my skin has more of a “red as a tomato” glow to it. My island – well, let’s just say at this age, my private little island has more to do with my hot flashes than anything else. There are days (heck, seasons) that I’m guilty of allowing the media’s reality of beauty to permeate my own.
Just around this time last year, we were getting ready for my daughter’s wedding. It was the first of my daughters to get married. I had been pretty successful in my exercise regime prior to their engagement announcement and was well on my way to reaching my goals for the big day. Life had other plans, however. We had a series of events happen in our life that despite my best effort, got the better of me. Sadness drained my energy and mood swings wreaked havoc on me physically. Needless to say, this beautiful day came and went without me reaching my goal.
I graciously accepted the heartfelt compliments on how wonderful everyone looked, but deep down I wasn’t happy with what I considered to be a failure. I didn’t let it dampen the day, how could I? With every graceful glide my daughter took, my heart was filled with joy for her, her husband and their new life. But, the lasting memories in the photos is what I need to come to grips with. I know in my heart that I’m much more than this outside form that shapes me, but those thoughts have a way of creeping into even the happiest of moments, don’t they?
I’ve learned that in any moment of doubt there is only one place to go for truth and that is scripture. I turn to the Psalms where I read:
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…Psalm 139.14
When we can’t compliment who we are and where we’re at, especially when it comes to our bodies, we do God a great disservice. We are telling Him that His creation – me – isn’t so great. I have to constantly remind myself that this body housed new life. This body physically worked alongside a wonderful husband to tend to our home and land. This body made time for each of my children throughout their young lives and put everything else on the back burner. This is where I am right now at this time of my life. These are the moments and things that God placed before me and called me to minister to.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.…. 1 Cor 6:19-20
The analogy of a temple points to the temple in Jerusalem that Paul knew. This temple was a rebuilt version of the temple Solomon had built back in the Old Testament. The body that receives the gift of the Holy Spirit is special to God and is to reflect His nature. If we don’t care for this temple and receive it as a gift, are we reflecting who Jesus is through us?
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place… Psalm 139:15
Although there are things I have no control over, like my height and frame, there are those moments I whisper, “boy I wish I could wear that cute outfit?” Some of us just have to work harder than others and I have to learn to accept that this is the form He chose for me. It is the very form that He chose to dwell within and I have a responsibility to do my part to care for it – despite how much effort it might take.
Do you remember the glow that people said you had when they saw you in love for the first time? There’s a noticeable difference externally when we feel loved internally. This is the feeling that we need to work on instilling in our heart and there’s only one way to get it. We must allow ourselves to be loved by God. This is the difference between happiness and joy. I’m learning how to feel that joy and receive that love.
I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people…2 Corinth 6
For many, food can have enormous power over us in difficult moments. I’m not sure I ever noticed this happening in my life, it was just an unconscious reaction to things I couldn’t control. But now, I’m working hard to pause and ask God to comfort those areas of my life where food once did. He knows my wounds and sorrows, worries and disappointments better than anyone.
When I lack faith and find myself disappointed, my prayer can stand firmly on the promise that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. “Lord, help me believe in what I cannot see and trust in what I can only succeed in with You.” My life has been filled with reminders of His love – in the family I was born into, in the man He let me share life with, in the children I have been privileged to raise for Him, and in the friends that bring light and love into the places in between. Change on the outside must begin on the inside.
“As he thinks in his heart, so is he” Proverbs 23:7
So the next time the sun is shining and I want to refrain from bathing in the sun, I can confidently choose to bathe instead in the goodness of the Son that dwells within me.
Linda is a Catholic wife to her childhood sweetheart, Mike and mother to four adult children, Nicole, Brooke, Kristin, and Michael. After studying computer technology in college, she had several careers that allowed her the opportunity to combine her passion for young people, her faith, and her knowledge of technology.
Linda enjoys gardening, cooking, and tending to her little parcel of land in NY’s scenic Hudson Valley region. She has been actively involved in numerous ministries at her parish of over 25 years. In her free time, she enjoys sharing life and the great outdoors with her family and friends. She blogs about family, gardening and the Master Gardener in her spiritual journey at www.gardenerstouch.net.