As we make New Years decisions, if we even bother at all, most women reflect on their looks and what they hope to change. Change can be good if it comes from a motivation to take care of the temporary body God has given us. Sometimes though we need to learn to love the body God gave us. I am grateful for the way God taught me to love what he has given me.
A decade ago my husband and I were chaperoning a group of college student on a mission trip in China. Each student had a Chinese roommate and stayed in a dorm. And each day we got a ticket so we could walk the three blocks to the shower facility. It was a community shower facility. It was a little embarrassing, like showering in gym class, except we were all older and needed to act as unembarrassed as the local Chinese women who stared openly at us. We were in the center of China, an agricultural area, the Iowa of China. Not manyAmericans came that far inland. So the Chinese women stared at us who were generally taller, blonder, and a bit more reserved (we never did get brave enough to scrub each others backs). Although I was 26 at the time, I had never seen so many naked women together: grandmas, mothers, teenagers, kids. Chinese and American. Because you can’t stand in a community shower room silent and with eyes downcast when fun conversations and laughter are going on around you, I began to look around and chat. I knew, because my health teacher told me, that bodies come in all shapes and sizes. But never before was the evidence right in front of me without the concealment of clothing. And in that shower room, I began to appreciate the way ever body is different and beautiful in its own way. And I began to believe that we are all beautiful in our way. Appreciating God’s handiwork, I could marvel at the sagging breasts of a mother who had clearly been a nursing mother and admire the muscles in a lady who obviously did physical labor. And the heights, as the two cultures shared the showering space….every size imaginable. And there, during the summer I of my first pregnancy, I became comfortable with my body, because I realized it was God’s workmanship.
If you have never had a communal showering experience that taught you to appreciate your body, well I found a web site for you: My Body Gallery. You type in your height and weight and then search (you can register but you do not have to). Real pictures of real women who are the same height and weight come up. I played around on the site, changing the height but keeping my weight. I loved it. I love the bravery of the women who share their images and the reminder that there isn’t one best shape. And while your daughters, unless they are teenagers won’t really benefit from this site, Moms need to be content with the body God has given them. And if body contentment is an area you need to work on, maybe this site will help you on your journey.