Pregnancy is such a weird life-transition. Your whole body changes to make room and provide for this new, little life inside of you. And while it’s only for a short time, the challenges pregnancy brings to regular, everyday life have reminded me of something important.
My body is not my own.
I’m not going to lie — when I found out I was pregnant, I freaked out a little about what would happen to me physically (and maybe a lot at times). For the first time in my life, I became overly worried about the possibility of getting stretch marks, having excessive weight gain, and basically just not having a body I could be proud of. I worried that I would be unattractive to my husband. Others’ comments about my weight and what I was eating had never bothered me before, but suddenly they did. I’ve had off and on worries about whether or not I’ll be able to “bounce back” after having a baby. This was all new territory for me. I didn’t know how to handle it. And then I read this quote:
“You should not spend your days trying to preserve your body in its eighteen-year-old form. Let it be used … One of the greatest testimonies Christian women can have in our world today is the testimony of giving your body to another.” — Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic* (please read foot note)
And how true and right this perspective is! I wish I could’ve just had this mindset without having to read that quote, but I didn’t. I still struggle with some of my worries, but God is patient with me and is helping me daily. I am so thankful He has blessed me (so far) with a healthy pregnancy, with no complications or high risks, no stretch marks, no swollen feet (yet), and no excessive weight gain. (whew!)
I’m becoming more comfortable each day with my ever-changing body, knowing that children are a blessing, and that life isn’t all about outward appearance.
Oh…but then there’s another problem. I really like food. Eating and making yummy meals is something I thoroughly enjoy! But now that I have to limit things I like to eat in order to do what’s best for the baby, it can be absolute torture. (I know; it seems pathetic!)
“Eat whole grains and whole foods. One dessert a week. No juice. No soda,” says the doctor. Sure! That sounds great in theory. But when you’re at McAlister’s and there’s a big chocolate chip cookie staring you in the face as you order, it can ruin a pregnant lady’s day. If only “one dessert a day” was the actual rule. I could handle that, no problem. (McAlister’s is one of my cravings. I could eat there almost every day!)
But because I’m mostly a rule follower, I’ve been doing my best to stick to the doctor’s advice because, again, I am reminded that my body is not my own. I’m trying to be motivated and encouraged by this greater purpose of providing for this little fella’s life.
Now, I’m constantly (and sometimes annoyingly) aware of everything I do — and not just about eating healthy foods. I’m acutely aware of how active I am. I’m choosing to exercise regularly so that I can keep a healthy weight, and build up my strength to take on this new task of carrying my little guy everywhere. (And not just for Diesel’s sake, but for my husband’s and myself as well. I’d like to help ease the delivery process as much as I can, and to be able to bounce-back as easily as I can after he’s born!) I’m also more conscious of what and whom I’m around, because those kinds of things can influence my attitude, perspective and the environment Diesel will grow up in.
Anything I choose to do now directly affects him. Crazy.
And then it got me thinking that this whole “my body is not my own” concept really isn’t new. It’s actually been a prominent reality all along for each of us. We just don’t always think about it or want to.
We weren’t created by God to just live to please ourselves and appease our own carnal desires.
We were made with unique purpose, and given a specific mission to carry out in life: to spread the Gospel and to love and encourage people with the love of Jesus.
We are His temple. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” — 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
While this blog post was sparked by my pregnancy experience, it should be apparent to all of us that our bodies were never our own.
Our bodies ultimately belong to God in every season of life.
This means we should take care of ourselves in every way we can (physically, mentally and relationally) because we represent Christ, and were made in His image.
God is using this pregnancy to shape me into a better wife, friend, daughter, and now mom. He’s reminding me to find my confidence and identity in Him, rather than in self-image. He’s reminding me that I’m truly dependent on Him for everything in life — and that He’s in control of it all (thank goodness!). He’s reminding me to take care of myself for His glory ultimately. And most of all, He’s reminding me that I’m His, and He’s showing me how to love Him better.
*I do want to take a minute to note something about Rachel Jankovic’s quote. When I read this, I was reminded that I shouldn’t be so selfishly worried about my outward appearance because it steals the joy away from the blessing God intended having a child to be.
However, I realize that this quote could also be wrongly interpreted to support the reasoning behind “letting yourself go.” I want to clarify that in the same way our bodies are not our own from a mother’s perspective, they aren’t our own from a wife’s perspective either.
“For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” — 1 Corinthians 7:4-5
Out of love and respect for our husbands, we should also — and more importantly — be mindful of how we take care of our bodies for them. It’s important to make significant effort to maintain an attractive look and physique for your husband because this directly affects your marriage. As much of an inconvenience and roadblock this can feel like in the midst of life’s demands, aging, struggles with weight and the like, it is a sacrifice we should be readily willing to make for our husbands to show we care deeply for them. I’m not saying we have to all strive to look like supermodels, but putting forth the effort to dress attractively, and taking time to regularly exercise are practical, positive things we can do to love them better. This kind of behavior will ultimately strengthen and bless your marriage, and protect you both from temptation, frustration, arguments and brokenness.