Thursday, April 5, 2012

you should wear a padded bra.


i can remember those words like it was yesterday. 
i was in eighth grade at a party. 
i was wearing a burgundy striped shirt and blue jeans. 
"julie, you should wear a padded bra," he said. 
those words, despite the fact they were purely superficial, were damaging to my young 13 year old self-esteem, especially coming from the opposite sex. i was only then beginning to find my identity in Christ, and wasn't prepared spiritually for words like those, in a society that focuses on looks above most everything else.

(oh my word! right? can you believe i'd put that on here! look at that oversized shirt and top of the head ponytail!)

flash forward to high school...new words struck me...
"julie, you're definitely in the ibtc" (itty bitty titty committee...excuse my french). 
my best friend and i would joke about being in the 'club,' but my joking only covered up the newly opened wounds formed from the words spoken to the 13 year old me. mind you these words aren't anything earth shattering (these 'wounds' aren't really anything compared to what some kids go through such as abuse or neglect)...but, nonetheless, they hurt my view of who i was as a developing young woman.

(senior year...after extensive braces and learning how to fix my hair)

i'm now 29 (almost 30...yikes), and those words have stuck with me all of these years, and in some ways, defined who i am. i don't think of them often, but, after just having a baby, and my body changing in many ways afterwards, they are here again, staring at me in the mirror...mocking me. 
they say (not sure who says it) that time heals all wounds...i don't believe it does...the wounds become scars that eventually fade, but they are still there. like stretch marks after being pregnant...they last long after your baby has grown into a man, they aren't as noticeable (maybe some are), but you still know they are there.
i became more confident in college and didn't care what i looked like...i was more confident as a woman, because i was confident in Christ. i excepted myself as who God made me to be...i was studying the Word everyday...spending time with Jesus everyday, and not focusing on who might like me or what i looked like. the Bible says that imperishable beauty comes from a gentle and quiet spirit...which is precious to God {1 peter 3:4}. that was my focus, so i didn't care what others thought about the way i looked.


where is my confidence now?

i'm about to get personal.
when i become pregnant with my little man, i thought (don't judge, mommies, you know some of you thought this too)...how exciting, my boobs will get bigger...finally, i'll look like a woman and not an adolescent teenager waiting to go through puberty!
well, month after month (really day after day), i'd look at myself in the mirror and wait for those babies to grow...and they didn't, however, my belly, butt and face did. right before he was born, i went shopping for a nursing bra and remember the lady at the store telling me i might want to wait until after my milk came in because they usually get bigger...so i thought, ok...i'll wait till then...
and i waited...and waited...and when my milk never really came in i knew exactly what size to get...
the same size i've always been...since 8th grade! (you can read about my breastfeeding struggles with jude  here).


then came baby #2...little nora girl...i thought maybe this time will be different...maybe i'll be able to breastfeed and bond with baby girl in that way...i was told by numerous people that the second time {normally} your milk comes in faster and even more so than with your first.
after baby girl was born, i started to breastfeed her after they finished cleaning her off and taking care of me. she was a great latcher and started to eat right away...i thought...oh wonderful! this time is going to be so different! the whole time we were at the hospital, she ate every 2-3 hours and i was super stoked. after we got home, everything changed. i still continued to feed her every 1.5-3 hours, but at every doctor's appointment, she continued to lose weight...until she had lost about 1lb and 1oz...we (meaning my sweetie and i) decided we had to do something because our little one was literally starving. i had already tried pumping, and discovered there wasn't much, so i decided to forgo breastfeeding. with everything that had happened with jude and the emotional mess i was, i decided it was best for our little girl to have formula...in some ways this was a hard decision for me because it made me feel a little like less of woman...'if we were deserted on an island, i couldn't have even fed my babies,' i think to myself a lot...but, God in His infinite mercy and grace would provide in some way like He always does. not being able to breastfeed and {i know this is silly} not filling out certain shirts sometimes makes me feel less feminine...like i'll always be a girl.

would i feel more confident had i been able to breastfeed my baby? maybe
would i feel better about my ever changing body when i look in the mirror if i actually had the figure of a curvy woman (and by curvy, i mean in all the right places)? maybe
would Jesus love me more if i had those things? no
does He love me just the way i am, created in His image, created by Him in the way He wanted me to be? yes, yes he does!

i don't want nora to struggle with the superficiality of her looks, but in today's world, it's hard not to let those images of food-deprived supermodels push you towards worldly beauty. i don't think it's wrong to look nice...i don't think it's wrong to wear nice clothes, or make-up or to dye my hair even (i gotta cover those premature grays!), but i do think it's wrong for those things to become an idol of my heart...to pursue those things instead of pursuing Christ. i want to teach her that she was created in the image of the most high God...whoa! that's huge! i want her to know that He created her...he knit her together...every toe, every freckle, every hair...in the perfect way that He wanted her to be...do we live in a fallen world? yes. do we have perfect bodies? no. but one day we will...not on this side of heaven, but someday, we will...until then, our beauty comes from inside...that gentle and quiet spirit, the kindness you show others, fearing the Lord, living as a girl and woman of purity and integrity, seeking Christ and His kingdom first above all else...it's those things that make us beautiful.


for you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb
i praise you, for i am fearfully and wonderfully made.
wonderful are your works;
my soul knows this full well.
my frame was not hidden from you,
when i was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth. your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
how precious to me are your thoughts, o God!
how vast is the sum of them!
psalm 139:13-17




4 comments:

  1. Beautifully written, I enjoyed reading it can indeed identify with some of your struggles. So glad you know God's love trumps all those feelings :)

    Happy Easter!!

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  2. I love this so much. I can relate in so many levels. Thank for writing this post. Have a great easter

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  3. Thanks for sharing your heart Julie. I have always thought you were so pretty!! This year I have thought a lot about the fact that at times we can do everything right and our bodies just don't do what they are supp. to do. It has been hard for me to accept, but all we can do is our best. Happy Easter!

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  4. I read this last week and have been meaning to comment ever since. I can relate in so many many ways to your post. Loved your honesty and your reflection. I have struggled with the same feelings and find that it is an ebb and flow of finding my confidence and identity in God. I can sympathize with your breastfeeding woes because I was unsuccessful in breastfeeding my first child (I was able to pump for 6 months, but it was very overwhelming). I cannot imagine the stress you went through with all that. Anyway, I had a much different experience with Nora as I nursed her for 18 months and then forced her to wean. It was a blessing. However, I am now stuck with my girlish curves and my insecurities. As bathing suit season is upon us I have spent a lot of time moping and fussing over not being able to wear anything. I have struggled with a lot of what you wrote in this post and felt so reassured by hearing your voice on the issue. It is a great reminder to me to stop feeling sorry for myself, or to focus my attention on such a superficial thing as my physical body. Thank you!

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thanks for leaving me a comment. i can't begin to tell you how much your words mean to me!