Stretch Marks

I have some battle scars.

Yesterday afternoon I laid out in the sun and then did some yoga. I felt great, and I was overwhelmed with gratitude that I get to have this kind of life. As a college teacher, I have the privilege of a lot of down-time in the summer, and as a new yogi I’m constantly in awe of what the body can do when given space. Like many girls, before I went to bed last night I had to check my tan lines. There’s a sweet satisfaction in seeing that tanned skin next to  my natural ghostly complexion. While I was examining my emerging bronze glow and checking in with sore muscles from a detoxifying yoga practice, I noticed stretch marks.

Stretch marks! Stretch marks are only for people who have babies! I thought. But then I remembered… Not that long ago I looked different. I felt different. I was about 6 sizes heavier. My wedding dress was a size 4. But most of the clothes I put in the boxes for the U-haul were a 10-12. I ballooned in less than two years. The growing pains of marriage and the heartache at its failure was too much for me. I became increasingly depressed. I rarely laughed. I cried often. I hid away in the house. The stretch marks came without me even knowing it.

I actually didn’t notice these marks until yesterday. They must have been there for at least two years, but I’m just now starting to take regular inventory of myself again. How do I look? How do I feel? What’s going on in my body, heart, and mind? It’s good to check in. Being daily in the Word is my mirror too, a better mirror. Growth requires reflection.

What happened to me back then? I got too big. Not just literally, but spiritually speaking. My focus was on myself: my hurt, my pain, my loss, my discomfort. Just as I was taking up more room physically, I was taking up a lot of room in my own thoughts. Therein lies the danger. I’ll never forget the day that I sat weeping in my bathroom floor, the only place I knew he wouldn’t come in to see me crying.  I finally cried out to the Lord and asked him for help- not the kind of help that means I’m still doing most of the work. I wanted the kind of help that allowed me to quit and for Him to take over. He did. I walked out of that room with a renewed heart, and he began to renew my mind.

The next couple of years, leading up to where I am now, required me to let go of a lot of things, to take responsibility for where I’d been, and to trust the Lord with my future and my heart. As I began to decrease, He began to increase. It’s amazing to me that this has had a physical effect.

I don’t mind the little stretch marks. They’re scars. They’re a reminder. They won’t let me forget where I’ve been, and the healing that has come.

Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength[ of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:25-26


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