Originally Published on flatironswomen.blogspot.com
My kids taught me something the other day simply by being kids.
Our family went to the beach. Of course, this is Colorado, so by “beach,” I mean Boulder Reservoir. I have three kids, and we brought a little friend who I watch as well. We brought the kayak, the cooler, the swim bag, the folding chairs, floaty toys, and beach balls. There was schlepping, my friends, plenty of schlepping.
I slathered sunscreen on my 37-year-old self and decided it was unnecessary to reveal the body that had been sausaged into a swimsuit. I knew I was just going to sit in the camping chair, counting four children over and over again as they splashed and played, disappearing and reappearing countless times. There was no need to get sunburned when the only thing I wanted to put in the water was my feet.
Next to us, two college-aged girls appeared with their 20-year-old bikini clad bodies, smart-phones, and floaty rafts. They caught my attention as they put their raft in the water near my kids and then twisted and contorted their bodies to make their svelte figures appear more lovely, more alluring, more perfect than they already were. They rejected photo after photo as not Instagram-worthy enough. These gorgeous girls thought this angle showed a roll. That angle gave her a double chin…
I’ll be honest. I watched. I judged. I rolled my eyes at their youthful insecurity. I wished they could learn what I already know as an older and wiser person: It doesn’t matter what other people think about your body. You are loved just as you are. You are fearfully and wonderfully made by God.
Mmmmhmmmm. I got that one down. I know that perfectly well as evidenced by my sausage-suited heinie fully-covered, sitting in the camp chair counting my children while pretending to enjoy my book. I’m not comparing my body to theirs. I’m not comparing my body to the mom over there who clearly competes in Ironman competitions. Mmmmhmmm… Definitely not.
The fact that I took a million pictures of my kids playing and having fun had nothing to do with posting them on social media to make me look like the best mom ever. Mmmmhmmm...
Yes, you’ve detected sarcasm.
We are the same, 20-somethings looking for approval. We are the same, beautiful girls with an air of self-importance. I’m sorry I judged you.
The only ones who are different?
Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3-4)
When we first arrived and walked through the hot sand to get to the water, my kids and their friend were delighted. “Wow! It’s like the ocean!” my son said.
“I’ve never been to this ocean before! I’ve only ever been to the ocean in Boston,” our four-year-old friend replied.
They were in awe, amazed, overjoyed.
We stayed all day, and they played and played. They chased each other. They built sand castles with moats. They found seashells and other “treasures.” They floated and raced and swam and jumped. They buried each other in the sand.
They didn't care what they looked like. They were just enjoying the sun, the water, the sand, the mountains. They thought this little reservoir was as vast and amazing as the ocean. They were wild and carefree, as I scoped out strangers, attempting to assess whether or not they might be creepy sexual predators or kidnappers.
The kids have no fear. The kids don’t worry about the size of their rear-ends or the single or doubleness of their chins. The kids just get in the water and play. They don’t worry about creepers or drowning. They make mud pies. They enjoy the beauty and the bodies God gave them.
I am the King’s Kid. What if I basked in the safety of His arms and prayed my worries over to Him instead of hoarding disasters in my mind?
What if I used my body to splash and play and search for treasures? What if I enjoyed being in this incredible body that can run and jump and hike and kayak, instead of planting it in a chair because someone might realize my body is not the perfect shape?
I mean, life like that sounds way more fun. I guess I’ll let Jesus have my child-counting and body image anxiety.
I’ll be making mudpies.