For years, I walked around with a little heart-shaped cup in my soul, holding it out to people or things trying to find fulfillment. -Lysa TerKeurst
After the birth of Eli, I struggled so deeply with my post pregnancy body. I was so ashamed that my body was unable to shrink down immediately after having a baby, and even more ashamed that my body was unable to deliver a baby naturally. I felt as though my body had failed me. Neither of those things are things to be ashamed of. They are just unfortunate circumstances that I had to deal with. But because I felt so defeated at that time, I tried to find fulfillment in other things that would prove my body could actually do something right.
Some people turn to food. I turned to exercise. I began working out after I was cleared from my doctor, but rather than working out to make myself feel good and knowing I was making a healthy choice, I worked out to fill that hole in my heart that my experiences had created. I wanted exercise to make me feel good about myself, but my mindset was so jacked up that instead of feeling good about working out, I felt guilty. I exercised out of guilt. I exercised because maybe if I worked out enough, I would lose weight, and if I lost weight, maybe people would accept me. What the heck? I didn't need to worry about being accepted. I have a wonderful group of friends and family that love me, no matter what. I have a husband that loves me no matter what. Why did I think I wouldn't be accepted because I still had some baby weight? Oh it just breaks my heart that I did that to myself.
I told myself so many lies: You are not beautiful; You will never be beautiful; You are gross; Your body wasn't capable of a natural birth, what kind of woman does that make you?; You better exercise or people will always look at you in disgust; No amount of exercise will ever help you; You are a failure...
Can you believe I said those things to myself? I can't either.
It wasn't until I had a life changing conversation with my husband that I was able to pull myself out of the funk and start to make some changes to the way I was thinking. I exercise now because I enjoy it, not out of feelings of guilt. It does make me feel good. It was that conversation that started to help me believe in myself, to know I was accepted by those that love me and my God, and that conversation reminded me that I do not need to find fulfillment in being accepted by others. I need to find my fulfillment in Jesus.
I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19
It was by His grace that I have I have been able to replace the lies I had been telling myself with the following truths:
Even though my body may not meet the cultural standards of beauty, I am beautiful in His eyes.
Those stretch marks are a sweet reminder that God trusts me with one of His own.
God loves me, no matter what the scale says, no matter how much I exercise, no matter what size pants or shirt I wear. His love for me goes way beyond something so superficial.
God accepts me for who I am.
My heart means more to God than my appearance....
And the ultimate truth:
Only Christ can give me complete fulfillment in life. I cannot find real fulfillment anywhere else, but through Him.