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)
Welcome to Ungrind!
Do you want to be inspired, motivated, and equipped to live the everyday story of your life well?
If so, you’re in the right place. Whether you need encouragement in your relationships or in your faith, I hope you’ll find the transparent voices of mentors and friends here at Ungrind.
So, grab a cup of coffee and keep reading. We're so glad you're here!
Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
Get Our Free Ebook!
3 Ways to Navigate Personality Differences
Sometimes personality differences can wear on us. Here are three ways we can navigate them in a loving manner.
Surprised By ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’
If you haven't seen this film, God may speak to your heart through it in ways you weren't expecting.
The Wedding Ring
Are you struggling in your marriage? Here's how a wedding ring helped one wife fight for her marriage.
5 Ways to Live an Out-of-Control Life
Here are 5 ways to let go of control and trust your present and your future to God.
5 Creative Places to Find Prayer Accountability
Do you want to pray more, but are easily distracted? Here are some practical ways to stay focused.
How to Rescue a Day Gone Wrong in Your Marriage
Just because a day doesn't start well, doesn't mean you can't rescue it.
How To Change Your Life in 10 Minutes
Here's how you can change your life with a simple 10 minutes a day.
What Women Are Saying
-- Emily P. Freeman, author of Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life
"Real life is not always pleasant. Every marriage experiences disappointments, misunderstandings, sickness and financial crisis. Ashleigh doesn’t camouflage the pain in her own marriage, and offers practical ideas on how to walk through the difficulties and find intimacy on the journey. If you are anything like me, I predict that as you read, you too will find yourself laughing, wiping tears, and saying 'Oh, yes.'"
-- Gary Chapman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages
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.
Faith4 years ago
When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds
Motherhood4 years ago
Surviving a Strong-Willed Child
Faith4 years ago
7 Ways to Create A Family Altar
Friendship5 years ago
Beyond the Registry: The Ultimate Gift Guide for Expectant Parents
Relationships2 months ago
5 Ways to Teach Your Child to Hear God
Marriage6 years ago
4 Reasons I’m Not Facebook Friends With My Husband
Everyday Faith4 years ago
6 Simple Ways to Give Thanks in the Thick of It
Articles5 years ago
10 Ways Life is Like a Box of Chocolates
Articles7 years ago
How to Lift Up the One You Love
Articles5 years ago
Relationships7 months ago
Facing Our Motherhood Fears
Digging Into Scripture2 months ago
How the Psalms Speak to Our Emotions