"When I see your face, there's not a thing that I would change
'Cause you're amazing, just the way you are."
Those words are cute for bubblegum pop. Nobody actually talks like that, though. At least, that's what I thought, until arresting body-image fears crept to the surface of my heart and then finally made their way out of my lips.
Cradling the cell phone to my ear, I sat hunched over on my bed, grabbing a throw blanket close to my chest. My throat tightened from the effort of holding back tears.
"What is it babe? You can just ask me." My fiance's voice was calm on the other end of the phone line, as usual. David and I had so much in common, but our personalities were polar opposites. In the course of dating and engagement so far, we had navigated our fair share of stressful situations. Whenever tension escalated, I talked faster and made hasty decisions. Meanwhile, I admired how David would take a deep breath, slow down, and remind me with a smile that he loved me, no matter what.
"Um, I don't know how to say it."
"That's okay. I'm here." His breathing was steady in the silence, as I tried to formulate my fear into words.
"It's just that, I wanted to get really skinny for our wedding. I mean, I know I'm already thin, but as soon as we got engaged, I automatically thought, 'I need to go on a diet.'"
"Well, you don't need to," David said gently. I shifted the phone and wiped the tears from my cheeks before continuing.
"I thought you would say that. The thing is... it hit me the other day... maybe you don't even think of skinny as the most attractive! What if you prefer a really curvy body type? I hadn't even thought of that before." It was difficult to breathe deeply now, as a few tears swiftly turned into weeping. David was quiet. Trying to regain composure, I finally asked, "I just wanted to know which you prefer. I'm scared that if you want more curves, like--I don't even know how to look like that."
"You're asking me how I prefer your body to look?" A touch of surprise colored his gentle question.
After taking a few shallow breaths, I whispered, "Yes."
"Oh, babe. It's not like there's this ideal body type that you're either getting closer to, or farther away from." There's not? That was news to me. David continued, "If you're doing your best to be healthy, if you're taking care of yourself both physically and spiritually, then that's the way that you're going to be the most beautiful. Then however you look, will be how God created you to be. And I love who you are."
"Are you quoting this from somewhere?"
Laughing, David said, "No, I'm not quoting anyone. That's honestly what I believe. You don't have to worry."
The fear dissipated instantly. Granted, it came back in various forms over the course of our engagement, and it still sometimes creeps into my heart to this day. But as my sister and I used to remind each other as teens, "I love my body!" (The correct response was always, "I love *my* body!" And then, in unison, "We love every-body!") It might seem cheesy, but this self-affirmation was really necessary in my younger years. As an adult, I've tried to keep loving and accepting myself: heart, mind, and body.
Here's a recent picture while on tour in California, 9 months after giving birth. Physically, I'm in great shape! At 9 months postpartum, fitness is going exceptionally well. On the other hand, there are aspects of recovery that are going quite poorly. (As I've mentioned before, my hormones are very much out of whack, and I'm carrying an inexplicable sadness like a constant weight on my shoulders.)
Looking in the mirror, what do I see?
Whether I'm at my highest level of fitness, or whether I'm 8 months pregnant; whether I'm my typically, happy self, or whether I'm not feeling like myself at all, I want to recognize the beauty of simply being. After all, that's the only way I'll be able to accept that kind of love from anyone else. Care to join me today? 'Cause, as Bruno Mars smoothly expresses it: you're amazing, just the way you are.