In the fifth grade I became aware of how I looked in a swimsuit. Nobody said anything to me. I had simply and suddenly realized that I had a larger frame than most of the other girls my age. I have always had more of an athletic build, but by the time I made it to junior high, I had noticed that my muscular thighs were touching. And I obsessed over it. In seventh grade I still had baby weight, which meant I now had to suck in my pudgy tummy every time I sat down so the boys in my class wouldn’t notice I wasn’t as thin as the other girls. I had wished I could have been one of the lucky few who didn’t have to worry about the carbs they’d consumed—because not even an ounce showed up on their thighs.
Thankfully, I had parents who were very encouraging. The moment they heard me mutter a negative comment about myself, they spoke words of affirmation and love. But the words they couldn’t hear were the ones I said over and over to myself inside my head every time I stood in front of the mirror. Those words cut deep and stuck around all through high school.
I remember shortly after I was married, while doing my devotions one morning, I read Psalm 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” I smirked and thought, Well, my thighs aren’t so wonderful. Instantly I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit come over me, as if God spoke the words out loud, “Why do you doubt how I made you?” I was stunned! No one had ever confronted my inner thoughts before, but here I stood in our tiny apartment all alone, having a conversation with God. “I don’t doubt you” I said out loud. “Then why did you smirk when you read those words?” I heard a voice speak back. I paused for a moment, trying to deny the conversation that was taking place inside my head, and instantly my eyes filled with tears.
I broke there in that moment because I realized that in all those years of looking in the mirror and being unhappy with the way I looked meant I didn’t approve of the way God made me. It meant that every time I questioned why I wasn’t just born “naturally thin” like the rest of the girls in my seventh-grade class, I doubted his plan when he knit me together in my mother’s womb. I doubted that I was his creation, his wonderful artwork. My being unhappy with how I looked was like my telling the painter I hated the painting.
I promised from that day forward to never speak negatively about God’s wonderful creation again. I would be confident knowing that the way God made me is exactly the size and shape he intends me to be.
Have I struggled with this since then? Yes—especially when I didn’t lose the baby weight as quickly as others. But a gentle reminder is all I need to walk confidently in the body God created for me—even at the public swimming pool because this momma is going down the water slide with her kids!
This summer, my friend, I pray that you will embrace this wonderful season with your kids and put on that swimsuit! I also pray that you will embrace the way God made you, knowing that he put careful thought into your every detail and declares that you are fearfully and wonderfully made—even if wearing a swimsuit is a little terrifying!