“Bouncing Back” After Baby: An Unrealistic & Unworthy Goal
I had an epiphany a few days ago. (I told my husband that and he said "Do you know what that word means?" Well, duh!)
Anyway, I realize I strive for perfection in how I look. Particularly how my body looks. I have done this for years, even before I had three little ones. But now that I've had three children (with my last being a c-section) the shape of my frame has changed, and it will never go back to the way it was.
I had a baby 4.5 months ago, and once she was 5 weeks I started exercising... hard. I immediately started eating well and avoiding the things I know would slow my progress (gluten and sugar) so things would go even faster. I've been doing this for a total of three months so far, and I have been so hard on myself because I'm not yet into my clothes. Yes I've lost weight, but not as much or as fast as I wanted to.
But this week I realized that I'm striving for something the Lord never wanted me to strive for.
• Why am I trying so hard to look "perfect" on the outside, when the Bible says the fear of the Lord is what lasts, while outer beauty fades? (Proverbs 31:30)
• What standard am I trying to aim for? And who set this standard as the ultimate goal for women? Our culture set a standard that we see displayed on social media and movies every day, but the Lord never set that standard. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart, and that's what matters. (1 Samuel 16:7)
• Were our bodies meant to "bounce back" after giving birth? With some women, they do go back to how they looked before having a baby. But others have lasting evidence that they carried and birthed a child. Instead of trying to get rid of this evidence, shouldn't we be celebrating the fact that God gave us the privilege of nurturing a human life and bringing this life into the world... even if we have to go up a pants size afterwards?
My husband has pointed out that I get stressed over things I can't change. And he is right! After I run or lift weights, I get stressed because I expect to immediately notice the difference when I put on my clothes. (Can we just take a minute to say how dumb that is? Geez!) But a stressed mama does no one good. Neither does a stressed wife. And to be stressed over something as superficial as my outward appearance is just appalling!
I don't want to waste another minute of my life worrying and fretting over something as superficial as the way I look.
Instead, I want to focus on the amazing privilege I have had to carry, nurture and birth three little humans, and then to continue to use my body to sustain their life through nursing. I want to focus on the Lord and obeying His word when it comes to my family.
Ultimately, I would rather be pleasing to the Lord and have the character of Christ than a "perfect" outward appearance.
I know I'm not the only woman in America who feels pressured by the way our society says we should look. I hope that you will see, as I have recently, that our cultures standards are not based on the Bible, are unrealistic for most, and are not important in light of eternity. God sets the standard, and it has nothing to do with our outward appearance. Instead it has everything to do with the heart, and that should be our main focus.
P.S. I am still going to eat well and strength train/run. But I am not going to be so focused on it that it consumes me! I think aiming for getting exercise every other day is good, and focusing on eating well most of the time, with the occasional sweet here and there is even better!