“Mommy, what are those silvery lines on your hips?” Brooke was inquiring about the stretch marks that are plentiful on my body; the result of birthing three of my five kids. She was studying them with intense curiosity, mixed with great concern as to what kind of horrible animal could have scarred me so severely. Even though I described the beauty of what the stretch marks represented to me, she couldn’t get past how unsightly they were to her.
“Good thing those marks aren’t on your feet where everyone would be able to see them,” she quipped. Again, I stressed that the stretch marks were a beautiful reminder that my body was used in a sacrificial way to make her birth, and the birth of her two sisters, possible. It’s the mark of the ultimate servant who gives her life to make new life possible for others. Not that I actually died in the process, but my unblemished body died during the rigors of pregnancy. Impressed with my own answer I responded, “Now don’t you think they are beautiful?”
She wasn’t in tune with my spiritual correlations and clever metaphors. “Mom,” she started slowly, “you are beautiful; those marks ? not so beautiful.” Oh, the honesty of a six-year-old! Really, she’s right in one sense. The marks themselves are not so beautiful. They are jagged, uneven, discolored signs that my skin was stretched almost beyond what it could bear. It was stretched so thin that it will never be the same.
I stood in front of the mirror and continued to examine the stark evidence of my past pregnancies. A strange sense of pride welled up in my heart as I realized these scars made me like Jesus in a way. I gave my life to make new life possible. I carried these new lives and took on their weight. I was stretched almost beyond what I could bear. My experience left me scarred and forever marked. But the product of these scars is a joy I could not have gotten any other way.
It still moves me to tears to think about Jesus’ scars. It is amazing that the God of the universe would care so much for me that He would allow His Son, Jesus, to give up His life for me.
While I have not been called upon to physically die for my children, I have been called to die to the selfishness that characterized my life before kids. Life was about me back then. My schedule, my needs, my wants, my time, my money, my desires, my dreams and my plans dictated how I spent my life. But that is not what God wanted for me. He wanted my life to be about Him and His plans for me. In marched not one, not two, not three, not four but five little beings to make sure I am reminded on a daily basis that the pathway to joy is paved with little stones of service that when carefully laid one right beside another lead to great places.
Braiding this one’s hair. Tying that one’s shoes. Fixing this one his favorite cookies. Changing another’s diaper. Taking one out for coffee. Cheering another at her sporting events. Praying this one through a hard time. Washing that one’s clothes. Dusting this one’s room. Cleaning up that one’s spilled drink. Teaching this one to roller skate. Planning this one’s birthday party. Helping another one catch a frog. Putting a Band-Aid on this one’s scraped knee. And that’s just one day in the life of a mom.
I am convinced there is no greater way to model the heart of God for our kids than to serve our families with a happy heart. Not that we are to become our children’s slaves. That would teach them laziness and disrespect. But to model for them the joy that can be found in giving our lives in service to our Lord and others. When we model this joy for our kids, we set the standard for what we expect from them. I expect my kids to have a good attitude when serving family members and others. I want for them what I have discovered – when you serve, you look a lot like Jesus.
Jesus gave His very life so I could find new life. My scars therefore, are precious reminders, real treasures of my service that started the moment of my children’s conception and continues to this day. Giving my body gave my kids a chance at life. Modeling Jesus’ example of service points them to the new life they can have in Christ. They don’t have to fall prey to the selfishness that reigns in this world.
I don’t have to be a victim to the selfishness that screams for attention either. I become a giving person by giving. I become a caring person by caring. I become like Jesus by acting like Jesus. Not by thinking about it. Not by making promises to do it. But by the act itself.
Just as these acts change me permanently, my scars also are a permanent marking. Trust me, I know how permanent they are. Before I came to appreciate their beauty, I tried all kinds of creams and lotions that promised to reduce the appearance of scars. Some even boldly claimed to heal stretch marks. I became a marketing statistic as I bought their empty promises. No amount of cream, no amount of rubbing, and no amount of wishing them away worked. They’ve become permanent residents on my hips. So, since I can’t change it, I have chosen to embrace these symbols of my courageous attempt at motherhood.
Jesus embraced His scars as well. And now for all of us, they are symbols of His courageous success of becoming the Savior of the world. After His resurrection, He could have come back without the pierced scars on His hands, feet and side, yet He left them there. The rest of His body was whole and healed, so why leave these scars? While theologians could argue this question, I think He left them because He wanted to. He came to love not the scars themselves, but what the scars accomplished. He was called to be the Savior of the world and He did it. I am called to be a mom, and I’m doing it.
Let’s face it – motherhood is a stretching experience whether we are talking about our physical bodies, our mental capacity or our spiritual outlook. But it brings me such joy to see the correlations between my service to my children and what Jesus has done for me that I thought it worth pondering. Whether you birthed your children through your body or through your heart by adoption, you have served ? you have sacrificed ? you have been stretched.
Ponder today the gifts behind the markings and scars of motherhood?
I looked at the older woman and wondered what it meant.
Do we tell with our body about the life we’ve spent?
The wrinkles on her face, the posture of her back.
The fingers softly bent, and the joy in her laugh.
I’d seen other faces marked with a frown and scorn.
Their presence seemed quite harsh and their spirit very worn.
But in this woman there was beauty despite the evidence of time.
The peace in her cloudy eyes and laughter behind the laugh lines.
She had a grace about her though her body was now slow.
For she had learned the joy of being and in her heart she knows,
She spent her life in celebration choosing joy to be found.
In whatever life gave her she stood on His solid ground.
Lord, may the markings on my body be like hers in some way,
That I lived and loved and laughed and celebrated every single day.
Used with the permission of Proverbs 31 Ministries. If you would like additional information on Lysa TerKeurst or Proverbs 31 Ministries, please contact them at www.proverbs31.org
This article is taken from Lysa’s upcoming book: The Bathtub is Overflowing But I’m Completely Drained. This is a book no mom should miss reading! To pre-order your signed copy see the back page of this issue. This book is due to be released with Harvest House Publishers July 1 and includes a Bible study at the end of every chapter.