One by one they began to appear on my growing belly, the tiny zebra stripes of motherhood. Then almost overnight they seemed to get bigger, redder and angrier. Stretch marks.
I looked in the mirror and cried selfishly. My head told me to be proud that my body was growing a new life, undergoing an amazing, miraculous feat of energy … blah, blah, blah. My pride and vanity spoke louder — I was ruined, imperfect and obvious.
Supermodel Heidi Klum walked down the Victoria's Secret runway five weeks after giving birth. Miranda Kerr was back modelling bikinis just two months after her son was born. Brazilian model Gisele Bunchden was snapped looking flawless at the beach in a bikini a few weeks after the birth of her daughter Vivian. The list of celebrities who have claimed 'back' their bodies after childbirth is endless.
When it comes to motherhood our culture prefers pregnant women to glow iridescently and new mothers to burst with effervescent, nurturing energy. No wonder I had unrealistic expectations about the impact birth would have on my body!
As maternity leave stretched on I woke up each day willing the baby to arrive so the marks would stop appearing. In the midst of the imperfection of growing a tiny human I began to think about the perfection of the resurrection bodies we are promised if we trust in Jesus.
The Bible tells us our earthly bodies are characterised by physical and spiritual weakness, fragility and inevitably death. In contrast we learn that resurrection bodies are spiritual, imperishable, glorious and made for eternity. But what about my stretch marks? Would they be part of my heavenly perfection?
Under the weight of my flaws I tearfully apologised to my husband for my brokenness. Surely he was expecting the unattainable flawlessness of a supermodel mummy? My husband gently reminded me of Jesus — whose body suffered and was broken on a cross. Jesus — who bore the weight of sin so we could be free and right before God. Jesus — who endured pain at the hands of others in order to bring something good, something beautiful from the ugliness. Jesus — whose scars were the physical proof of his actions and identified him to those who doubted. Sometimes a scar is not only a reminder of pain, but a promise of what comes next.
After Jesus came back to life again, he showed off his scars. They were part of his resurrected body. For us his scars are visual signs of his great sacrifice — they are scars of love. The Bible tells us that just as we bear the image of the first created man on earth we will bear the image of Jesus in heaven.
My scars show I carried a child and gave birth. Jesus' resurrected body bears scars as the physical reminder of who he is and what he has done. Will I have stretch marks in heaven? I don't know. But if I do I am in good company.
In the days since my son was born I have often looked at my scars with a sense of wonder. The pain of pregnancy and birth is still raw and real. But now, with my son in my arms, I am swallowed up by the joy of new motherhood. My stretch marks are now scars of love.
First published April 15, 2014
Writing is both a personal and professional passion of mine - with training in Theatre, English Literature and Journalism I love of all forms of communication! After working in journalism, public relations and the performing arts I'm currently taking some time out to focus on a new adventure: motherhood! I live with my husband Andrew and our son Guy in Christchurch, New Zealand, where we enjoy spending time with our large extended family and serving our local church.
Sophia Sinclair's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/sophia-sinclair.html