Flawless

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flawless_sarahb

Over the past couple of weeks, my shower has become my prayer cell: standing with my back to the spray, letting the water minister to my sore muscles and my tired soul. I take a shower at least twice a day now. If I need to cry a little, I can. (Usually by this point in pregnancy, it doesn’t take much to get me crying.) If I need to sing old Keith Green songs, I can. If I need to pray—I always need to pray—I can pray snatches of Scripture and surrender without audience or interruption.

But on this night, I found myself thinking of a few things I’d seen in the news. Over the past couple of days three famous women went viral for daring to reveal their real bodies: stretch marks on supermodel Cindy Crawfordfacial imperfections on Beyoncé, the woman who woke up like this, and Kate Middleton daring to show her grey roots.

The Internet collectively lost its mind over the shock—SHOCK!—that their beloved beauties are in fact, real. This is what so much of the world tells women: you’re only as valuable as your photoshopped and curated self.

I turned off the water and carefully stepped out of the tub, reaching for a towel that no longer wraps around my body. I stood in front of the steamy mirror and grinned at my own reflection.

Flawless.

I have put on weight in this pregnancy, of course, but I have no idea how much. (In one of the greatest favours I’ve ever done for my own peace of mind, I put away my scale a few years ago. I highly recommend this.)

I am days away from giving birth, you see. I am puffy and tired. My hips ache, my breasts have changed and my abdomen defies the laws of physics.

I have big babies and they have left their mark on me. I have silver stretch marks on the sides of my body from my first, then on the lower part of my abdomen from my second, the ellipses on the sides of my stretched out belly button are the gift of my third, and this fourth baby, she has made her mark now, too: bright red and dull blue lines like a map criss-cross down the centre of my body landscape. Someday these marks, too, will fade to silver like the others but they will remain with me. My skin has been stretched to accommodate new life. My body bears witness to the ways that living my life all the way through is changing me.

And I think my body is more beautiful for these very imperfections.

To some, my stretch marks and grey hair, my freckles and my round body are impediments to overcome, a flaw to fix, a battle to wage war against. And yet those are the very aspects of my body that I have come to love because they tell me the hard-won stories of my own life.

I believe that our citizenship in the Kingdom of God is a bit upside down to the world’s ways. After all, our imperfections, our mess, our reality only makes us more beautiful, more valuable, more precious. The very things that the world disdains about us can become our greatest ministry to one another, make us precious to the ones who love us, or become our altar for meeting God.

The same thing holds true for our whole selves: the world only tells us the places where we are broken, the places where we’ve failed, the places where we are weak and imperfect and inefficient. But the Gospel tells us that those places, the places of our dry desert and lonely wilderness, will bloom with beauty and richness. The mended places are places of strength for us. What the enemy meant for evil, God will use for good.

So much of being born again is having eyes to see and ears to hear. We look past the world’s value system and score boards as the lie. We see that bravery and love, kindness and strength, sacrifice and beauty are more subversive than we ever imagined.

We need never cower in secrets and illusions of perfection: redemption is flawless.

I believe that dangerous women own their stories, their bodies, their brokenness. They live their whole lives as invitations to wholeness, a beauty that embraces and subverts the whole of our stories, embodied.

______________

 

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Sarah Bessey

Sarah Bessey

Sarah Bessey is the author of Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith and Jesus Feminist. She is an award-winning blogger and writer who lives in Abbotsford, British Columbia with her husband and their four tinies. You can find her online at SarahBessey.com or on Twitter at @sarahbessey.
Sarah Bessey

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  • Saskia Wishart

    Beautiful Sarah. Sometimes I am amazed/disturbed by the extent to which I am able to locate every flaw on my own face and body. How subversive it is to embrace the flaws and broken bits in ourselves, and what a beautiful invitation to embrace that in other women around us. Dangerous. And thank goodness for bodies which make little humans and come out showing that something beautiful has been birthed!

  • Oh Sarah – this felt like such balm to read. I have a few stretch marks, and a flopped-out belly with weak stomach muscles since giving birth, but I wear them with pride. I honestly just love your writing. The shower is often my prayer cell, too. Here’s to reversing expectations and living the upside-down kingdom.

  • “But the Gospel tells us that those places, the places of our dry desert and lonely wilderness, will bloom with beauty and richness. The mended places are places of strength for us. What the enemy meant for evil, God will use for good.”

    Thank you so much for this.

  • DeAnna S.

    Loving this whole dangerous women series. I hope all of this is collected into book from at some point. I would love to have it all contained to read together.

  • Oh, Sarah. This is such beauty. It reminds me of the way it smells outside when Spring finally begins to thaw the Winter and the sun is shining to melt the snow and ice. It’s thawing my heart today.

  • My stretch marks and I thank you. 🙂 I have big babies too and I’ve always been self-conscious about my stretched out skin. I need reminders like this.

  • Helen Burns

    So great… may I say how amazingly PERFECT you and your words and thoughts are today to women everywhere. Ones, like me who are past the childbearing years and those who will still be coming into this season. We are perfectly, wonderfully created and I thank you for bringing truth and beauty to us all through your lovely wisdom and insight. I adore you and love you – always and forever. xo

  • Thanks be to God that you are not wasting your energy regretting the very thing God designed your body to do, but instead are celebrating the beauty of His plan for you. Praying right now, Sarah, for a safe delivery and healthy baby.

  • Nicole A. Joshua

    “…our imperfections, our mess, our reality only makes us more beautiful, more valuable, more precious. The very things that the world disdains about us can become our greatest ministry to one another, make us precious to the ones who love us, or become our altar for meeting God.”
    This is good news that brings freedom. I want to bury this truth deep in my heart, so that it becomes part of my being, so that it becomes my truth.
    Thank you Sarah.

  • cjdeboer

    “Our imperfections, our mess, our reality only makes us more beautiful, more valuable, more precious.” YES! THANK YOU Sarah. This post needs to be read by every woman!

  • Jenni Flood Eastin

    yes, Sarah, yes. Dangerous women own their stuff. Great post.

  • Standing slow clap….your words bless. Always.

  • “But the Gospel tells us that those places, the places of our dry desert and lonely wilderness, will bloom with beauty and richness.The mended places are places of strength for us. What the enemy meant for evil, God will use for good. ”

    Hanging on to this promise on this fragile of days. Thank you for always speaking to the dangerous women in me!

  • Kristin Demery

    Love this — partly because I’m due in 3 weeks with my third child (all girls, my poor husband is hopelessly outnumbered), but mostly because it’s voices like yours that I want my flawlessly imperfect daughters to hear. 🙂

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  • Ruth

    Great comfort and truth in this! I’ve had 4 major abdominal surgeries, Caesars, hysterectomy, and abdominoplasty ( major tummy tuck ) to fix my ripped muscles, remove piles of scar tissue, and remove fusions of organs. I now have a flat tummy of sorts, but it doesn’t make the difference I thought, as a side effect it might. I like having my huge and problem causing ‘peg bag’ gone, but I’m still recovering 18 months later. It’s like you say God makes good things out of difficulties and He has used this to show me that real beauty is not in having no stretch marks or loose skin, or no bulge anymore, but in relying in him to get me through and thank Him for my life and being a dangerous woman is wonderful. Life….here we come…Jesus ready and wild to the core with His freedom! 🙂

  • Sarah, I am learning to walk this out: owning my story, my body, my brokenness, inviting wholeness! You put words to my messy journey. I do love your words so much! Also, I won’t add to the overdue advice I’m sure you’re hearing. Suffice to say that I have walked with many mamas on the “overdue” journey. I love that you’re making space to write about it with such grace and honesty. It gives such dignity to the whole thing. Dangerous woman indeed. xo

  • Emily

    I absolutely love this… There aren’t actually any long, thought out responses to be given to this; because it really doesn’t need it. There are small, slow steps being taken towards real beauty; and that real beauty is in God’s hands to create.

  • hayleycrocker

    This is great, Sarah. I love the analogy and the beauty of this truth. Just shared it on my page.

  • Oh yes oh yes. I have put away the scale, for years now, and it’s especially liberating when pregnant. Gosh, I love midwives. I’m so happy Maggie is here. She is beautiful. You are beautiful. Big babies are beautiful!!!

  • pastordt

    Beautiful. Sarah. Thank you.

  • Tammy

    Beautiful, Sarah. Thank you.

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  • BritW

    This is everything. 🙂

  • Thank you, Sarah, for encouraging us to bravely continue being the women we are — daughters of God made exquisite by grace. Happy baby! – Fawn

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