“If our bodies were meant for a museum, we would take every pains necessary to restore them to their former glory. But if display is not their purpose, then we must look in the mirror differently.”

Inspired by “Loving the Little Years” by Rachel Jankovic.

Mom confession: there have been a few desperate times in the years since having children where I hid in the shower or pretended to take a long time on the toilet just for a few moments of uninterrupted silence. Mothering is hard, and especially in the early years it can feel like you are barely keeping your head above water. I am told it will get easier eventually.

The chapters of Rachel Jankovic’s Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches are only a few pages long—just the right length for a quick skim during a bathroom break. Jankovic’s nuggets of wisdom include discourse on knowing your children as individuals, training little girls to manage emotions, living life “in the rock tumbler,” and more. Jankovic is a mother to five children, who at the time of writing this book, were ages 5 and under, so she definitely understands the chaos of life with little people. I admit I was a bit intimidated to start the book, since I hate being told by moms who are awesome, how easy it is to be awesome like them. But her tone and style are very approachable, and her clever and lighthearted perspective on parenting is quite refreshing.

My favorite chapter, entitled “Me Time,” describes God’s purpose for our bodies. To explain, I have to give a little personal context. I’ve had two babies now, nearly back to back, so until a couple of months ago, my body has been at the mercy of a small human, for either pregnancy or nursing, for over four years. After each birth, I made a modest effort to exercise and eat well, but I wasn’t prepared for the variety of non-weight-related changes that happen after housing and nourishing a person into existence. Though I am often tempted to frustration about how clothes fit or the side effects of sneezing, Jankovic offers a refreshing perspective:

“Motherhood uses your body in the way that God designed it to be used. Those are the right kind of damages...motherhood is what your stomach was made for—and any wear and tear that it shows is simply the sign of a well-used tool. We are not to treat our bodies like museum pieces. They were not given to us to preserve, they were given to us to use. So use it cheerfully, and maintain it cheerfully.”

If our bodies were meant for a museum, we would take every pains necessary to restore them to their former glory. But if display is not their purpose, then we must look in the mirror differently. Sure, we may need scrape off a little rust, oil the gears, or tighten a few screws on this fleshy tool God has given us, but we wouldn’t view our diet or exercise as supreme if the goal isn’t bodily perfection.

God’s word offers plenty to meditate on when we begin to lose perspective about our bodies. My favorite place to turn in any conversation related to beauty is 1 Peter 3:3-4: “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of the hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” Here, Peter encourages us to adopt God’s view of beauty, which blossoms from the heart to transform our external person. (Bothered by the term “gentle and quiet”? Read my reflections on it here.)

Paul has a similar encouragement for followers of Christ. He challenges us to train our hearts for godliness—”for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8).

Paul gives the Corinthians further instruction about the purpose of the body: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

But the Bible offers more than instruction for how to use our bodies. God gives us hope amid our frustration with them: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).

If your home is host to any number of tiny humans, I would highly recommend escaping for a few moments to read through “Loving the Little Years”. Grab a couple of other new moms and make it a book club. And if you see me fretting in front of a mirror, I could use the reminder as well—“my body’s a tool, not a museum piece.”

Meredith Storrs

Meredith serves Cornerstone with the Women’s Ministry and as a Global Liaison.

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