It’s been hard looking in the mirror these days. The woman staring back at me looks nothing like the one I so readily remember. She has a rounder face, arms that have lost whatever toning they once had, legs that are dimpled and thick, and ankles that are swollen beyond recognition. Her hair is much shorter than she ever wanted and her make up never looks quite right. At 36.5 weeks pregnant with her third baby, she looks tired, upset, disgusted.
I see her, and I wince. I don’t like what she looks like. I don’t like that she’s not as small as she was with her other two pregnancies. I don’t like the comments she’s been told by friends, family, and even strangers:
Are you sure there aren’t two in there?
You look about ready to pop. How much longer did you say you have to go? . . . OH. WOW. That long?
Your face is SO round!
You are SO big!
Are you sure you didn’t miscalculate the date of your LMP?
Te miras TAN gorda! (Spanish for “You look SO fat!“)
Yes, she’s been told quite a bit. She took it quite often with a smile, but deep down, it hurt. Not because it wasn’t true, but because it was. And she knew it.
I’ve tried to accept her as much as possible but the messages of this world have sunk in deeper than I’d like to admit. I cried as I watched when the new stylist chopped her hair off in a way that was so much different than the picture I gave her. I cried when my husband and children told me I was still beautiful . . . that it didn’t matter what my hair looked like. I cried because I wanted to look different, be prettier, not look like the woman in the mirror. I was embarrassed of her.
It was after one of my grand pity parties that I turned to the Word and realized how incredibly selfish I was being. I was reading Proverbs 31, no less, when this scripture jumped out at me.
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. –Proverbs 31:30
The world’s focus is on beauty, the perfect pregnancy figure, the perfect hairstyle, etc. (and of course, it goes beyond pregnancy). It was what I was striving for. I longed to hear, “You look great!” “You’re all belly!” (Yes, we pregnant ladies love that one.) I didn’t realize that in so doing, I was focusing on the world’s standard of beauty and not God’s. I was unknowingly teaching my children that what a person looks like on the outside was far more important than what was on the inside.
For me, what was on the inside was a small baby girl, who needed my body to do just the right things in order to sustain her to infancy. She needed me to have a larger blood supply, larger hips for her to snuggle in, and more fat for nourishment when it was time to be born and fed. My body was doing an amazing thing, and instead of joyously marveling at the beauty of God’s miracle, I was focusing on the image I wanted to portray, and the woman I wanted to look like.
I felt a bit of sadness overtake me at that moment when I realized I had just a few short weeks to feel my daughter’s little kicks in my womb, her sporadic hiccups, her twists and turns. I suddenly realized that these last days may be the very last time I experience pregnancy, the marvel of a child growing within me. The morning sickness, the fatigue, the pelvic pain, and Braxton hicks were all a part of the process, a part of making sure she was safe, she was cared for, she’d have all she needed to prepare for her entrance into this world.
I felt a knot in my throat as I realized what a precious gift I had been given and was taking for granted. I had almost missed it . . . I had almost let the woman in the mirror take my joy. I had almost traded in truth for lies.
You see, this is what I came to realize. The ugly side of my pregnancy was not the woman in the mirror but the woman on this side looking at her. The woman in the mirror was not ugly; she was nurturing a baby. The ugly side was my thoughts toward her, my selfishness, my vanity, my heart. I didn’t look at her with God’s eyes, or my husband’s, or my children’s. I looked at her through the world’s eyes, and that was my mistake.
My children didn’t see her as I did. They saw me, the mommy that kisses their boo-boos, gives them hugs when they need them, prays over them constantly, and takes them by the hand when it’s time to cross the street. My husband didn’t see her either. He saw his wife, the woman who adores him, his lifelong partner, his constant. It was only me who saw her. Only me.
Oh, if I could see as clearly as my children or be as loving as my husband then I wouldn’t have allowed myself to get this far. . . Had I just taken my insecurities to God, I would’ve seen a completely different person every time I glanced. I would’ve looked and seen a woman who fears The Lord. I would’ve remembered that “The fruit of the womb is blessed.” I would’ve embraced His perfect love for me and not let the superficiality of this world lead me astray. I would’ve seen what was truly important in this season of my life.
I thank God for His merciful guidance and my eyes that see more clearly now. I thank God for every minute of this pregnancy, and I thank Him for the beauty He places inside each and every one of us who seek Him, the beauty that is truly far more remarkable than anything this world offers apart from him.
I don’t know what the woman in the mirror will look like on the other side of this pregnancy. I don’t know if she’ll have marks of the season engraved on her skin, a softer and fuller appearance, or if she’ll somewhat resemble what she looked like before. Whatever it is I see, I know my eyes and my heart must remain focused on the inside, on the me that stands on both sides.
I have come to find through this journey that the woman in the mirror now sees me differently as well. She smiles more and nods at me with a new sense of wisdom. I look at her and see a woman who is content, calm, focused. . . and at peace. In Christ, she is simply, and yet remarkably, beautiful.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. -Romans 12:2
Have you embraced the woman in the mirror?
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