Have you ever noticed that a change in your life's circumstances tend to make you look at the world differently? Even if it is a good change, our circumstances can still color our perspective. If someone were to win the lottery, their life would never be the same again. Soldiers coming home from their latest tour of duty have also faced life changing circumstances. While defending our freedom, they may have suffered a debilitating injury or at the very least seen some terrible things they will probably never forget. While there is a great sense of purpose to what they did, the reality of dealing with a physical, mental, or emotional wound is something they must face on a daily basis.
This reminds me of countless stories from Scripture, but I’ll stick to three. First, I think of Jacob wrestling an angel in Genesis 32. Jacob had struggled with his identity his entire life. He was born hanging onto his brother Esau’s heel and eventually we see Jacob steal his brother’s birthright. When Jacob wrestles with the angel, he says, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” (v. 26) The angel responds with, “…What is your name?” (v. 27) It is at that point that he responds with, “I am Jacob.” (v. 27) This was the moment Jacob claimed his identity and finally got comfortable in his own skin. While it was a glorious and dramatic event, Jacob left that altercation with a permanent limp. He was forever changed by that wrestling match with the angel.
Next, look at Job. Scripture states in Job 1:8 that he was, “Blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” Yet his life was not without trouble. Far from it! Everything was taken from Job but it was restored back to him at the end of his story. This is a difficult situation to wrap our minds around because on the one hand, you want to praise God and are pleased that Job has his health and wealth restored, but the fact remains that he still had ten graves with his children buried in them. One does not forget burying their child (let alone ten). Those events inevitably changed Job and the way he saw his life and the world.
Lastly, look at Jesus at the tomb of his dear friend, Lazarus. Scripture tells us that “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) Yes, Lazarus was brought back to life but he also had to die again, though we do not know when. There is no doubt that there was sadness again after that second death.
The takeaway message? Life hands us great blessings but the results may be something we just are not comfortable with. Every limp and every scar have a story behind them. I say all of this because I deal with wounded people almost every day. While this next thought may seem off-topic, I truly believe it isn’t. It makes me sad to see young mothers trying to lose their “baby weight” right after giving birth because they don’t like it or their significant other doesn’t find it attractive. I have even heard them talk about how ugly their c-section scar is! So many women want to go back to how they looked before they had their baby. Sometimes that just isn’t possible. The fact is that life moves on and things change. As we jump over the hurdles that come our way, we quickly find that things are never how they were yesterday or ten years ago. Being blessed with a baby is a beautiful thing! After a person goes through something major there is always a story, a scar, a limp, or as I like to put it...a badge of honor. It is so important for mothers to understand that the after-effects of having a baby is nothing to be ashamed of. My wife and I have not yet been blessed with the opportunity to have children naturally (we are proud adoptive parents). If we ever are given that chance, I don’t want my wife to have those fears or anxieties. I have often told her that I, as her husband, would always see her c-section scar, baby weight, or whatever as a badge of honor. She will always be beautiful in my eyes. I don’t think this should ever be something a woman is ashamed of. Sure, there are some women who are able to lose the weight quickly. And of course there are the celebrities who spring right back after having a baby, but that is with the help of an entire team of nutritionists, trainers, and who knows who else.
1 Samuel 16:7 is a reminder of how we ought to view ourselves and how our significant others should view us: “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” We must learn to look beyond what is seen and instead focus on the heart. If you are a mother and have a “badge of honor,” know that you only have it because God has blessed you immensely. Let it serve as a reminder of the gift that has been given to you. Sure you can look back at how your life was before…that’s what memories are for! However, don’t look back and lament what you have lost. Instead, think about the honor that has been placed upon you and rejoice knowing that you brought life into this world. Your child and others owe you a multitude of thanks.