I was 22 when God gifted us with our first child. I wasn't stick thin by any means, but in those days I definitely could wear clothes sized in the single digits (and I've yet to see those days again!). I was extremely sick for nearly the first half of that pregnancy. I lost weight the first 16 weeks and was hospitalized more than once for fluids and meds. Many nights I slept in the bathroom floor because it took too much effort to move from bathroom to bedroom. Kevin became a pro at getting out of the way quickly because in the morning as soon as my eyes opened, I was literally sick. It wasn't a pleasant time, to say the least, but it was worth it. In the middle of this, Kevin's company moved us to Georgia and we literally lived in a hotel with practically nothing but a McDonalds, Waffle House, and a mom-n-pop restaurant nearby. As I began to slowly get over that hump of extreme morning sickness (24/7), my doctor told me to eat anything I craved. I had ground to make up. Plus, if I was craving it, I most likely would keep it down. With such limited food choices, that advice packed on the pounds. LOTS of pounds. After having lost around 20 pounds, I ended up gaining 65 pounds. That meant that in a span of 4.5 months I gained 85 pounds. Little Miss Adriana was only a tiny portion of that! Talking about some extreme stretch marks! Follow that about a year later by my lupus diagnosis and the beginning of massive amounts of steroids and other meds that quickly changed my metabolism and skin elasticity. Followed by two more kids and a few more years on this body. I'm walking around today with stretch marks nearly covering my full body and many of them are literally the width of two fingers! Yes---that is crazy!
They are the evidence of having brought life into this world. They are a reminder of what the female human body is capable of doing. The scars are the results of a miracle.
I'm going through a different time in life now that is creating stretch marks. Stretch marks on my soul.
We can live life in such a way that we don't get them. We can float along. We can ignore God's call on our lives. We can be like many of the world and just act like we love Christ, but never put our faith in action. We can be a fan instead of a follower of Christ. We can sit on the sidelines.
We miss what life is about. We miss the opportunities God has to change us. We miss hearing His voice. We miss out on being the person He designed us to be.
Growth isn't easy. I'll be honest. Sometimes it just plain hurts.
When He calls us to abandon what we thought we knew and look at things differently and from His perspective, it may hurt and it may stretch us.
When He calls us to step out in faith and trust Him, it can stretch us beyond our capacity.
When He calls us to forgive, it most definitely can stretch us beyond our own abilities. Most especially when that forgiveness comes situations that have left scars upon scars.
If Christ is going to dwell in us there WILL be stretch marks. We can't stay the same if we allow Him to shape us.
I love this imagery from this past advent season on "A Holy Experience" blog by Ann Voskamp. She had been beautifully describing Mary as she is stretched with Christ growing inside of her. Ann writes of how she herself had become focused on praying that she wanted her life to be a womb for God. "Come dwell in me, Lord. Come dwell in me."
To be a dwelling place of God, a womb for Christ, means to be extended, taken to one’s outer edges…stretched.
To be a womb for God means there will be stretch marks.
To be a womb for Christ, I’ll feel my inner walls, my boundaries, stretch.
Stretching the shape of a soul hurts.
I know for me, I want that to also be my prayer. "Come dwell in me."
Even as it stretches. Leaving marks behind. Because...
I want to be changed. I want to be a dwelling place for Him.