Learning to Let Go…(But not let “it” go) (5)

You have probably heard someone say at some point, “Wow ‘so and so’ really let herself go after having kids.” It seems that our society loves to fixate on how people look on the outside. It doesn’t matter how accomplished or self-sacrificing a person is, if they don’t look good they must be doing something wrong! At least this is what I observe. Don’t get me wrong, I love looking nice and even more than that, being healthy. I also think that how you look on the outside can reflect how much you value yourself. However, as a woman it can be very stressful to think that we must look a certain way to be considered beautiful. I myself am on a journey of redefining what is beautiful for myself. I admit, I’ve counted calories and been obsessed with my pants size…especially now, as a new mom, I have no idea what size that is for me. I have looked at myself in the mirror quite a bit in the last year as my body changed shape and size continually and thought…I wish l looked this way or that way.
But slowly, my mind is changing. You know what is beautiful? A woman who works 50 hours a week to provide for herself and comes home and takes care of an aging parent. A mom who gets up at 3 am cheerfully to snuggle and feed a crying baby. A woman who takes the time to visit a lonely friend and provide them with encouragement and fun.
…these are more beautiful images than any outfit or body size someone can come up with.
After having Lucas I was so excited to be quite a bit lighter and smaller than my pregnancy size. I loved fitting into my maternity clothes and even feeling small in them! But it wasn’t long before old insecurities and thoughts fought to take ground in my perception of myself. After a couple weeks I found myself hating that little bulge on my tummy or wishing my flabby legs looked as toned as they did when was running. Exercising comes slowly after having a baby and resting your body and letting it heal is more important than getting back to marathon shape for a new mom. But the desire to be “fit” again made me itch.
Then, after spending time with other young moms, whose lives and hearts I admire very much and taking some serious time to pray and think about my new son I am responsible for I realized something important. I was at a crossroads. I needed to let go. No, I don’t mean I needed to “let myself go” and give up on ever exercising again. But I need to let my grasp on controlling what I look like and constantly needing to define myself go. I needed to stop judging my body and accept what I had with thankfulness. And slowly that image in the mirror began to change into something I like looking at, something…beautiful.
That little bulge is where my most precious possession grew and formed and use to live. Those squishy parts that use to make me cringe I now see as a softer version of myself, that go with my now softer heart. Those arms may not look muscular but they are getting very strong as I use them hold and comfort my son. I am beautiful. I don’t need society to tell me I am something worth looking at. I have a husband who likes how I look, a son who needs me and could care less if I am wearing makeup, and a God who sees my heart and has declared me as precious.
Letting go of needing to control what I look like has given me the freedom to love who I am and the ability to truly enjoy taking care of my body again.

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