At 3:07 in the afternoon on Wednesday, November 4, 2015, Luca Caloway was plopped onto my chest within the first seconds of air thrusting itself into his lungs. After two days of labor & two hours of pushing, all 7 lbs 7 oz of his little body flailed as he looked me in the eyes, yelling at me in between the gasps of each new breath. Even louder than his cries was this new found voice resounding through my whole being, wediditwediditwedidit. Our first huge we did it between me & my husband, me & my baby, me & my body. We did it.
We’ve all been through a lot. Husband, baby, body. So the first couple weeks having brought forth life, I was so kind to myself. I could have shouted it, stripping my shirt off to show off my ever so cushiony new stomach (pop the contents of your stretched insides out & your stretched stomach feels leathery soft), “MY BODY DID IT WE PRESSED A BABY OUT OF A VERY CONFINED AREA.” & maybe I can more contribute it to the nine months of McDonalds french fries & large sweet teas, but for the first time since grade school I wasn’t at war with my body. You want steak & potatoes & salad & dessert for dinner? Eat up. I’m so proud of you.
Breastfeeding hadn’t helped matters as within a week I slunk back into my pre pregnancy skinny jeans, having lost every Luca induced pound my body had gained. I ate brownies & more dessert & more dessert & somehow I was closer than I had been my whole entire life to having a six pack. Truth. So I loved my body all the more.
I said, “You can be whoever you want to be, darling.”
I said, “I’m so proud of you.”
I said, “Forgive me.”
Because I spoke love you love you, sweet girl, & I didn’t have place to love myself. I loved the body I had created, the one I had rigged by skipping meals & denying the hunger pangs. Sure, I could love that body in which my hip bones protruded & my clavicle stood high out of my flesh. But could I love my body for the hunger pangs reminding me I need nourishment? Could I love my body for the things it loved so dearly– lattes, chocolate, desserts, pasta? If I never skipped a meal, ate healthy & how a doctor might recommend, could I love my body then?
Its easy to love your body when you’re in your little control box, manipulating the system to perfection. Its easy to starve yourself into looking ‘skinny’ in a couple photographs. But to boldly love your body while you indulge in that piece of chocolate cake with your coffee while you sit in that silent room with your latest read laid bare before you on a Sunday afternoon? To love yourself the day you couldn’t make it to the gym, or the day you slept in?
Maybe when I think about it loving my body is loving a piece of God & hating my body is hating a piece of God. Maybe its that small & that big.
“You are my dearly loved son, & you bring me great joy.”
What if that was the ultimate goal? The concluding line wrapping up everything He ever says or speaks over us? You are loved, you are loved, you are loved. Not just words meant for Jesus, but meant just as much for those covered in His image. You are loved, child. You are a vessel of joy.
& maybe when we truly see our bodies for the powerhouses they are created to be– each function out for your good– maybe when we see how truly loved we must be to be compact with such potential & flexibility to cope with whatever comes our way, maybe then we can truly love ourselves deeply. & only when we know how to handle ourselves with kindness could we possibly learn to handle others with that same mercy & grace.
You are loved. You are someone’s joy.
Be kind to others. & share that kindness with yourself.
“I hope we change. I hope we grow. I hope we push against the darkness & let the light in & breathe into the kingdom come. I hope we become a refuge for the weary & the pilgrim, for the child & the aged, for the ones who have been strong too long. & I hope we all live like we are loved.”
-Sarah Bessey, Out of Sorts