Earning your Stripes: why celebrating stretch marks in pregnancy is GR-R-REAT

stretch marks fb

“NOOOOO!!!” I cried.

I found it… glaring at me from the right lower side of my expanding belly: my first stretch mark. At 24 weeks (6 months), it showed up like a slash mark on my gorgeous baby-bump.

I growled with irritation!

Seriously, I rub greasy lotion on that skin religiously.

I’ve been chugging water like a camel.

I even tried vitamin E oil, till I broke out in a nasty rash that covered my entire tummy.

Grrr, stupid allergies. Ruined my chances for a perfect glowing belly full of people and potential for wearing my bikini proudly again (for my husbands eyes only, of course).

Then I remembered who was listening. Instant conviction settled over me. Not only had my great God, who designed my body to do exactly this, heard my cries of vanity… but so did my sweet daughter inside.

Crap. Now I have body guilt AND mommy guilt.

Thankfully, “there is no condemnation (guilt) for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

It took a few hormonal tears, a pep talk from my darling husband, and a personal resolve to have a holy perspective before I was able to say this, but here is what is true:

stretch marks pinI am earning my TIGER STRIPES!

Each stretch mark represents so much:

  • God’s design of my body to expand and provide life to two little humans
  • My willingness to serve and sacrifice for our children
  • The fact that my belly really did undergo major reconstruction (its not all in my head that I feel huge)
  • I am a woman! I am not a girl… I have gorgeous curves and getting said curves required a little more room.
  • I am a mother. I am not an object. My body is not a notch on the hot-n-skinny scale.
  • I am still sexy to my husband. He compares my stretch mark to a tough-girl bruise or war wound. He says it makes me look more hard-core.

This week held a first for me in my journey of motherhood: guarding my tongue for my daughter’s (and son’s) sake.

At age 2 or 12, our kids are looking to us to define their worldview. I don’t want my son to judge a woman’s beauty based on her lack of stretch marks. I don’t want my daughter finding her worth in clear skin or a perfect body. But this will be their “default mode” if I live from that perspective.

I am taking the words of Jesus very seriously:

“But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone hung around your neck. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off…” (Mark 9:42-43)

It is my goal to “cut off” that mentality from my day to day thinking. Of course, it’s not enough just to stop thinking negatively about my body. So I will do as Romans 14:13 says, and “decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.”

A bump progress picture from week 23.
A bump progress picture from week 23.

This means:

  • Focusing more on God’s glory instead of my vanity.
  • Finding positive things about my body (see list above) and other’s bodies too!
  • Finding accountability partners who will call me out on my words or behaviors that reflect a negative self-image.
  • Surrounding myself and my children with people and messages that concentrate on glorifying God’s image.
  • Avoiding or addressing media and advertisements that pull myself or my children back into self-focused thinking (positive or negative).

I will no longer growl at my body every time I notice a flaw. Instead, I will look at each part, beautifully made, and proclaim to the world: They’re GR-R-REAT!

My first "bare belly" picture, and you can barely see the stretch mark!
My first “bare belly” picture, and you can barely see the stretch mark!

How about you!? What do your “tiger stripes” mean to you? How do you “cut off” negative perspectives in order to help your family (and self) flourish as an image bearer of God?

*Need to positively affirm your body today? Take a picture, exactly how you are. Include your daughters or your whole family! Post the picture to your favorite social media, and give glory to God for being made in His image with the following tags: #Beautifullymade #thankyouJesus

Want more on this subject? See my post on being overweight here.