I Have Stretch Marks

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“Is it possible that the beautiful, spotless bride of Christ looks like a body that has lived? A body with wrinkles and scars and calluses?”

By Jordyn Osburn

bellyMy first stretch marks showed up in about sixth grade, when my bones grew faster than the skin around my knees. I noticed more during volleyball season in ninth grade when my butt muscles grew. More later when my stomach grew.

I was in my friend’s basement one night, about to soak in her hot tub, and one of the girls with us saw the sides of my waist. “What happened to you?” she asked, concerned. “You have scars right here.”

They were proof that I was fat, I was convinced. I even wondered if anyone would want to marry a woman with stretch marks. As far as I knew, I was the only one who had them. My mom didn’t. No one else at the beach seemed to. I’d never seen one in a magazine.

Walgreens had cocoa butter for pregnant ladies, so I bought it and spread it over my body religiously. That did nothing.

Eventually I met Jesus, and he told me that I was beautiful and I didn’t have to try to be, and I believed him kind of. I lost interest in tanning and brand names and not letting anyone see me before I straightened my hair. But the stretch marks still bothered me.

Maybe in heaven my new body won’t have stretch marks, I thought. Maybe I’ll be 10 pounds lighter in heaven too. And my teeth will be straighter, and my hair will be blonder, and I’ll look incredibly similar to Jennifer Aniston. Maybe in heaven, we’ll all look like Jennifer Aniston.

I gained the freshman something in college, and with every new pound came a new purple line on my side. It would eventually fade into a creamy, white, faded but permanent reminder of my weight, my pant-size, my imperfection. I regularly checked to see if they were any less noticeable before I got into the shower.

I went on a month-long missions trip to the Philippines and found some cheap stretch-mark disappearing potion at the mall. I actually asked the guy behind the counter if it worked, he said yes he thought so, and I believed him. So long cocoa butter, now I have magic potion.

You can guess how well that worked out.

Even after I got engaged I worried about them. About a week before our wedding I sat down with Zach, looked him in the eyes and said, very seriously, “I just have to warn you, my body isn’t perfect. I have stretch marks.” He laughed. He could have laughed at me because of my immaturity, but he laughed with grace, and warmth. “So do I.” And I saw so much love in his eyes that I literally felt Jesus embracing me.

We got married, and I felt beautiful. We got pregnant, and I felt beautiful. And then I was seven months pregnant, and my little bump was becoming a bulge, and I glanced in the mirror on the way into the shower. “Oh gross.” I said out loud.

Zach heard me from around the corner. “What’s gross?” “My stomach. I’ve got purple lines from my skin stretching. And they’re only going to multiply. It just makes me feel gross.” Zach got up from wherever he was sitting and came to find me. “You know what it makes me feel? It makes me feel like kissing you.”

It’s humiliating to admit that I’ve had such a hard time believing Jesus. That I haven’t even noticed my unbelief, my sin, when I say, “Yeah Lord, I know I’m beautiful, but my teeth aren’t beautiful.” Or “Yeah Lord, I know I’m beautiful, just not my stomach, or my butt, or my hands.” Just not my voice. Just not my walk. Just not my…self. Yes, God! I trust You! I believe everything that you say about everything!—except me.

Often I’m reminded that maturing in one area doesn’t necessarily mean my ratings go up in the rest. I spent the last few months facing the possibility that I might actually be choosing to die for Jesus. And after some serious wrestling, I really believe my heart made a surrender. I would have thought that a missionary willing to die for Jesus would be way past the vanity struggle. Maybe most are. But apparently each surrender is its own, including the laying down of the insecurity, of the pride.

By the time I gave birth to Joel, I had enough markage around my stomach to wonder if I’d been clawed by a bear. And sometimes still I lift my shirt in front of the mirror and finger the scars and feel some sort of self-pity, or I worry that my husband might wish he had a model for a wife.

And then I look at my nine-month-old son pulling himself up by the windowsill, eyes barely able to peer outside. He glances my way to make sure I’m watching him play and still impressed, and he makes make eye-contact. He grins with two tiny teeth. He bobs his jaw up and down at the pace of his little bobbing arm. He squeals. And there’s just no possible way that a child so beautiful could make me ugly. There’s no way I could be upset that carrying him inside me left me with marks. They’re life marks.

Maybe some of our scars won’t follow us into resurrection, I don’t know. But Jesus had scars on his resurrected body. On his hands, on his feet, on his sides. Scars that proved that he lived, and that he loved. Scars that remind me of who he is and how he loves. He let Thomas touch them. Maybe someday he’ll let me touch them.

Lately I keep going back to Psalm 45. It’s a wedding song, and it’s prophetic of Jesus coming for his bride. Verse 11 says, “Let the king be enthralled by your beauty.”

Let him.

Is it possible that the beautiful, spotless bride of Christ looks like a body that has lived? A body with wrinkles and scars and calluses? A body that has loved beyond herself in a way that stopped caring about what she thought was perfection and fixed her gaze on the one and only Perfect One? A body even willing to groan and bleed for love the way her Maker and Savior did? I think it’s possible. I think I want to be that kind of bride.

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About Jordyn:

Jordyn_bioJordyn Osburn is an almost 25-year-old with an itch to see the lost found and the lonely set in families. Her incredible husband Zach and beautiful baby boy Joel have traveled with her across the country and the equator to join Jesus as he loves extravagantly. She likes to sing loud, dance in the kitchen, bang on instruments and gather with people who do the same. Her greatest longing is to see God’s dreams come true.  Jordyn and Zach Osburn share a blog at www.thetalkingdonkeys.wordpress.com.

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Image credit: Jordyn Osborn

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