This is a devotion from the book Wake Up Laughing by Rachel St John—Gilbert. A friend shared it with me earlier this week. I loved it because it talks about being comfortable with ourselves no matter what we look like. Everywhere you look today you see what you mind interprets as the "perfect woman". We could all describe what that woman looks like – even if we were blind. However, that is NOT reality. People come in all shapes, sizes and colors. It is the condition of our heart that is the most important. This devotion reminded me of that. I hope it will do the same for you.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
I love big women. Before you get nervous, let me explain…
In Texas, almost every woman drives either an SUV or a van. While I was sitting at an outdoor cafe, a huge black SUV whipped into the parking lot. The driver was the kind of woman I have admired from afar for years. She filled the driver’s compartment with ease and appeared to be about the size of a high school quarterback. Nice, sturdy arms, pretty blond shoulder-length hair, attractive, happy face. She hopped out of her girl-truck, cell phone in hand, flashing while teeth in a smile a big as her SUV. She wore a loose-fitting T-shirt embossed with a Baylor University alumni logo. With confident strides of her sturdy legs, she headed into the cafe’ and ordered a Chocolate Java Joe, no apology offered.
Whenever I see this kind of woman, I always feel a twinge of envy and a smidgen of admiration. Women like this seem so doggone….carefree. Often thee women seem to give more bear hugs, laugh with more gusto, and face life with a come-what-may attitude. You gotta love ’em!
I think my feelings stem from the fact the these women appear to be comfortable with who they are and with the size of their bodies. It’s a rather maverick stance—flying in the face of what society says a beautiful and content woman should look like. Our physically obsessed culture relentlessly flaunts waif-like young women with pouty lips and sullen faces as examples of femininity. The politically correct diet of the sexy American woman, according to the Beautiful People, should include bouillon cubes, celery sticks, soy milk, and tofu. Every truly health-conscious beautiful wannabe, the magazines tells us, would spend all of her spare time in the gym with her personal trainer. Often, the truth be told, many gorgeous women (by society’s standards) get stuck on the insidious gerbil wheel of always running after but never reaching that "ideal".
Now, if I were twenty years old, parts of this recipe for the "perfect woman" would be appealing. But add another twenty years, extra pounds from three pregnancies, and carting around the fruit thereof on one hip all day, and, well, I’m looking for the recipe for the "real woman." And I think ample women who are living large and happy have at least part of the secret to the recipe.
It occurred to me that God tends to use a lot of creative license. A trip to the zoo quickly demonstrates my point. He made everything from an awkward, leggy, pink flamingo to a embarrassing-but-fascinating red-and-blue-bottomed mandrill. As a society, we seem okay with God’s creative genius when it involves a variety of personalities—but we can be less accepting when it comes to different kinds of bodies and facial features.
Perhaps you, too, have felt small inside when bombarded with images of what a beautiful woman should look like. As Christian women, we can help each other by shifting our values and focus away from the external and onto the internal—and better yet, to the eternal. Let’s do our best, with God’s help, to make each other feel comfortable and free—accepted for whom we are today, not some ideal we hope to achieve someday. We each must make our own recipe from what the "real me" should look and feel like. But we can leave our that heaping cup of unrealistic expectations.
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry.