Connect with us

Articles

Wonderfully Made

My body was made for more than looking at.

Published

on

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

I did not love my 16-year old body. The mirror said: “Your teeth aren’t straight. Your thighs wobble. Your skin has too many moles and freckles. Your smile is more gum than teeth.” Every picture I saw of myself at 16 was a painful reminder of each flaw.

I did not love my 26-year old body. The mirror said: “Your teeth may be straight, but it’s still more gum than teeth. Your thighs wobble. More than they used to. Your skin has even more moles, and some scars to add to the mix. Your chin is too round.” I avoided pictures whenever I could.

My 27-year old self got married, and my body had to come along for the ride: insecurities and issues wed with intimacy. “He loved me despite my gummy grin,” I thought. “Despite the wobbly thighs.” But my husband loved my 27-year old body. He loved it without criticism, without comparison, without complaint. He seemed delighted with my asymmetrical form. His voice began to compete with the shrill accusations of the mirror. “You’re gorgeous,” he would say. “You’re blind,” I would reply.

My 30-year old body got pregnant, and as that little seed began to grow in my hearth, so too a new seed began to grow in my heart. What if bodies were meant for more than looking at? What if, after three decades of believing that the mirror doesn’t lie, it turns out that the mirror was lying after all?

I watched in wonder as my belly swelled with life. This tummy that had never been flat enough, thin enough, pretty enough for a bikini … this same tummy was enough to grow a human being. What if my stomach wasn’t for looking at, but for sustaining life?

In the hours after my daughter was born, I sat amazed as my asymmetrical, pencil-test-failing breasts produced first colostrum, and then milk. The perfect combination of nutrients and antibodies, custom designed for my infant and served at exactly the right temperature every time. I thought: what if my breasts were not for admiration, but for my husband’s joy and my baby’s nourishment? Are they not wonderful? Yes. They are wonderful.

I shouted in triumph as I gave birth to one, then a second, and then a third baby. This body that had never been athletic enough, never fast enough, was enough to go through labor and delivery, and recover three times.

My arms, which had never been toned enough or bronzed enough, were strong enough to hold my newborns for hours. To soothe them to sleep. To snatch them from harm. To feed them their food. My legs, which had never been thin enough, were perfect for walking up stairs, carrying the umpteenth load, for teaching toddlers how to play hopscotch. My face, which had never been pretty enough to turn a head at high school, was delightful enough that my babies would stare and coo and grin at me for hours.

My body was made for more than looking at. It was made for me: to live in, to laugh in, to touch with, to serve with, to feel with, to nurture with. It was made for use. It was made for enjoyment.

I love my 36-year old body. My teeth are the same. My thighs even wobblier. My stomach squishier than it’s ever been. My skin has added wrinkles to the moles and scars. But I love my 36-year old body, and the mirror is no longer allowed to speak. From time to time it tries to shout its accusations, but I’m learning to walk away. And now that the mirror is quieter, there’s another voice I am able to hear more clearly:

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14 NIV)

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

Bronwyn Lea is a South-African born mama of three, braving the wild frontier of mothering in California. Once upon a time she trained as a lawyer and worked in vocational ministry, but her specialties now include speed-diapering and minivan-parking. When she gets to hang out with grown-ups, she loves to study and teach the bible. She blogs at Bronwyn's corner. You can also find her on Facebook, contributing over at StartMarriageRight.com, and on Twitter.

30 Comments
  • Michelle

    This is wonderful! What you’ve shared is a blessing. Thank you!

    • Thank you, Michelle. it has been such a good journey, and I so badly want to communicate freedom and grace to other women too.

  • I love this. And I love that you discovered it in your 30’s! I know you probably struggle from time to time with this as most women do, but tot share it who beautifully. I am about to turn 53 and that mirror still bullies me. Thank you for this insight.

    • Thank you, Mindy. my original working title for this piece was “mirror, mirror on the wall – shut up!”, but I love the edited title which so much more clearly conveys God’s grace on the topic of body image. may we let the Word speak ever more clearly than the mirror.

  • What a wonderful testimony, and such a helpful perspective — yet I must admit surprise to read of your inner thoughts and emotions! I’ve always looked at you and thought, “Wow, she has such a natural beauty and poised confidence about her!” :-) I guess that just goes to show that we all struggle with discontentment, and only He can fully satisfy.

    (P.S. Have you read Sophie DeWitt’s book, ‘Compared to Her’? SO helpful!)

    Thanks so much for sharing this, Bronwyn. So glad to see you over here at Ungrind!

    • Thanks, Kate. Yes, we all keep our insecurities fairly deeply buried, don’t we? God’s work has to be DEEP with us :-)
      Sophie’s book is on my “must read” list, but I haven’t had a copy in hand yet… maybe it’s time to pay amazon a visit.

      • Fantastic piece, Bron! And, yes, I agree: definitely pay Amazon a visit! ;-) Sophie’s book is excellent and is worth reading alongside Keller’s The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness. Brilliant stuff!

        • So many wonderful books to read!! I have 6 days sans kids in October and I think every spare minute is accounted for… all with my nose in a book :-) Thanks for adding Tim Keller’s book to the list.

  • Heather

    I am so grateful you wrote this post. I am 26 and have been riding the weight roller coaster and have been critical about my body for years. I am also engaged and your words have definitely helped me put things into perspective. I am looking forward to all the wonderful things that God has created me and my body for.

    • Thanks for your kind words, Heather. I remember standing in front of the mirror one day in my early twenties and complaining about something I saw, and my mom saying “My baby, one day you will have a husband and he will love your body just exactly the way it is, and it will be so good for you.” She was so right. May God continue his good, transforming work in us! Every blessing to you in your upcoming marriage.

  • Bronwyn, what a beautiful testimony to how God really created our bodies! I love this, and I can’t wait to have children someday and discover more about the way God made me! Love Katie

    • Thanks Katie, and I know you will have gorgeous, worshipful photos to document the journey!

  • Tim

    Bronwyn, you’ve written a post that men can relate to as well. Bodies never look the way we think they should.

  • Keiz Pipkin

    Bronwyn, this is lovely. I sometimes wish we lived without mirrors because they wouldn’t have such power over us. Although I find them helpful after eating spinach ;-) It really is amazing what God has crafted our bodies to do!

    • What a wonderful idea: maybe we should have a world without mirrors except for a small compact just big enough for spinach detection….

  • Thanks for your input, Tim. I only know the women’s side of this struggle, so it is encouraging to know that this is something we ALL need grace and truth in.

  • Betsy

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this! You have a real gift for writing, and I thank you for being so honest. I am three months postpartum with my second daughter and this is the message I want and need to hear over and over. I’ve shared this with my facebook mom’s group that includes hundreds of moms and hope they will be blessed by it as well.

    • Thank you, Betsy, and thank you for sharing the article – it’s a message I hope us women will deeply take to heart and know we are MARVELOUSLY made. Congratulations on your little girl’s birth! What a wondrous season.

  • Jessica

    Excellant! You know it’s funny, I have a friend who has been a model (done small jobs) and to me she is flawless. She looks in the mirror and sees nothing BUT flaws. The enemy of our soul lies to us all simply to stop us from singing praises to our Creator!

    • The enemy has pulled a fast one on us in this department, that’s for sure. I am very deliberately trying to put some “voices” in my daughters head to combat the enemy’s shouting: I tell her “there’s nothing more beautiful than a smiling, kind face”, and when she’s all dressed up in the morning and ready fr kindergarten to say “you look all ready for fun and play!” Instead of “you look so cute!” (But its hard, because she really is so very cute….)
      Thank you for your kind comment!

      • Betsy

        This is such an important topic – how to talk to our daughters. It would be awesome if you decide to write a post about that as well. I tell my toddler she’s so cute all the time cause I just can’t help myself, but I avoid talking negatively about my own or other people’s bodies, and don’t allow disney princess stuff or cable tv in our house. I would love more tips on how to foster a healthy and godly body concept in my girls.

  • Well-written and very poignant in our culture of looks, money, and power as supposed aspirations. Equally important is the ideal that we, as mothers, should teach our young boys that beauty is, indeed, inside a person and in the eye of the beholder simultaneously. My wish and my prayer would be that we would all feel as loved and treasured by our husbands as you do yours.
    Cheers and kindness,
    Sheila

  • Nancy Lambrechts

    Well said Bronwyn, you write so well. I’m going to share this.

  • Thank you for sharing this! I don’t know you, but saw this on a friends ‘Facebook-wall’ and was drawn to it. Thank you for reminding us what’s most important and for telling it in such a beautiful way.

    • I love finding great surprises on facebook! So glad you found ungrind :-)

  • Thabile

    Thank you, I really needed to hear this. I have always felt that way about my body. I am slowly starting to accept it but … Thanks for sharing.

    • Bronwyn Lea

      Thank you Thabile. I’m so glad we are on the journey to appreciating God’s handiwork together.

Articles

When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

Published

on

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone
Continue Reading

Articles

Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

Published

on

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone
Continue Reading

Articles

He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

Published

on

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone
Continue Reading

Become An Insider!

Enter your email address below to stay in the loop on the latest from Ungrind.

Welcome to Ungrind!



Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

As you read, we hope you consider us friends, the kind you feel comfortable sitting across the table with at the local coffee shop. You can read more about me HERE and our team of writers HERE.

Latest Articles

What Women Are Saying

"I am very impressed with the content of Ungrind. It is a place young women can go for encouragement, inspiration, and practical ways to navigate a life of faith. In a world that is telling women to find fulfillment through a million 'things,' Ungrind reminds us that we fill our cups through the Word of God and the commonality we share as women who pursue Him."

--Jennifer Strickland, author of Girl Perfect: An Imperfect Girl's Journey to True Perfection
COL_TeamUs_BannerAd

Five-Minute-Friday---4

familydevotional

Disclosure

We are a member of the Amazon affiliate program and regularly use affiliate links. If you purchase an item from an Amazon link we provide, we will receive a small referral commission. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. We only share books, music, and products that our writers personally have used and highly recommend.

Trending

Wonderfully Made

by Bronwyn Lea time to read: 3 min
30