This is simultaneously my best and worst season. The days are longer, the air is warmer, and the skies are bluer. There are beaches and pools, which I love, but there are also…yep!…swimsuits, which I hate.
Every spring, I put on last year’s swimsuit, determine to drop a few pounds before I go anywhere in public wearing it, then scold myself for caring. This year is no different and I intentionally check my heart. How much should a Jesus-loving wife and mother care about her swimsuit-clad body, and what do I want my daughters to learn as spring rolls into summer?
The reality is, we live in a hyper-sexualized culture that equates sexiness with value. It screams at us that a hot body will lead to a happily-ever-after life and that if only we can rock a bikini (at any age) and draw the eyes of men, then we will find all that our hearts long for and fill the vacuum in our souls. The fact is, all of that is a lie.
Living most of my teen years frequenting the beach, I learned that if “hot” is the goal, happiness is not the reward.
A lot has changed from my bikini-wearing-hungry-hearted-teen season of life to my tankini-wearing-over-forty-and-fulfilled season. I have long since discovered that the acceptance and affirmation I always longed for comes only from One source, and His name is Jesus. He never gets tired of telling me I’m beautiful and He reminds me that it has nothing to do with what I see in the mirror but what He sees in my heart.
Still, I live in this world while trying not to be “of” it. So, on (and off) the beach, here are the lines I draw in the sand, so to speak, and pray my daughters learn them early:
- I’m a woman, and it’s okay to look like one. God created me with curves and called it “very good” (Genesis 1:31). I don’t need to be ashamed of how I am made and hide His handiwork. However,…
- My curves were created for, and belong to, one man, and he alone gets to see all of them (1 Corinthians 7:2). I am not intended to dress as eye-candy and be ogled by every sex-saturated male passing by. But, I am free to be completely seen and enjoyed by my husband and, to him, I can be both hot and holy.
- My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). I need to grow in knowledge in order to take care of the only body I’ll ever have, and grow in grace to accept that it is a temporary dwelling subject to gravity and decay.
- My body is God’s workmanship created for good works (Ephesians 2:10), not my tool to fill my quest for affirmation or acceptance. Only Jesus in heaven, no man on earth, can do that.
Moms, sisters, let’s set the example. It takes work to quiet the noise of the culture that yells at us to be thinner and prettier and then to put ourselves on display. Whether you’re stunning at twenty-something or fighting metabolism meltdown at forty-something, let’s neither hide our bodies nor display them. Let us seek always to have a joyful spirit that draws souls rather than a hot body that draws attention.
See you by the pool.
I know we’re all in different stages and learning different lessons, so please tell me what you think. Where are your “lines in the sand” regarding body image, dress, and the culture?