Thursday, August 14, 2014

Bathing Suits and Love

It has been a WONDERFUL summer! For so many reasons - I'm so thankful. It's been a summer of connecting with my family in a way I was never able to before; the shame that covered my life kept getting in the way of really knowing them, and of letting them really know me.  I really feel like I know my boys now, and what a difference it's made in our day-to-day life! And our marriage? It's honestly never been better. So much peace and joy in the Feltmate household - it's a beautiful thing. (Not to say that it's perfect - my boys are still boys - all of them - and I'm still me...but that's ok!)

So the Feltmates went to World Waterpark in West Edmonton Mall this summer. The kids had a blast, the husband was happy, it was an excellent day.  Well, mostly.  When you're almost as wide as you are tall, you can imagine that a bathing suit is the very, very last thing you might ever wish to put on. So I didn't. Well, I did have one on, but it was covered very securely with shorts and a shirt. Anyway, I did a few slides and enjoyed the wave pool a bit, but spent most of the day hanging out at the kiddy pool with Jake, while Chris and Chandler tackled the more adventurous attractions. I loved watching his delighted face as he whooshed down the little slides again and again (and again). But as I sat there on the edge of the pool, watching people of all shapes and sizes pass by, I just felt worse and worse about myself. (Comparison is pure evil, my friends - it's a game I'll never win...) Interestingly, and slightly annoying-ly, the whole time I was there, I had a tune stuck in my head that I couldn't help humming out loud. (Fortunately, the humming was swallowed up in the cacophony of laughter and shrieks and water and conversation surrounding me, so I just kept on humming...) By about the fifth hour or so, I was thoroughly depressed, stuck in a pit of guilt and inferiority, but the tune remained and I finally recognized what I had been humming: "Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me; Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me..." over and over and over. Tears came to my eyes in spite of the crowd all around me, and my heart was filled with joy and amazement and gratitude to this One Who goes to such great lengths, Who arranges such minute details, to assure me of my worth and to whisper His love just when I need it most.

How amazing is it that this God just loves us - just as we are?! As I observed the people around me, I couldn't help but notice that no body is perfect. Flaws and imperfections that may be covered up most of the time all come out when the swim suit goes on, and insecurities that may be well hidden have a tendency to rise to the surface.  I also noticed varying degrees of discomfort and embarrassment, and it seemed to have very little to do with the size or shape of the individual, from what I could detect. It went both ways, too. There were tiny, beautiful little ladies who could barely take a step without pulling at their suits, and much larger, beautiful ladies who were playing with their kids and prancing around the waterpark with not a care in the world. There were lean, muscular men who were in the water fully clothed and softer, rounder ones who were barely clothed at all. Such an interesting phenomenon...

By the end of my time at the waterpark, God had allowed me the privilege of seeing through His eyes for just a moment: for the first time, I really saw the inherent, universal grandeur of each glorious being, each carefully-crafted body; each and every one the deliberate and thoughtful and premeditated creation of a meticulous and purposeful Creator. And as much as it's my habit to resist such thoughts, I had to believe that this applies to me, as well. What a gift - to be reminded of the beautiful truth of Psalm 139:
For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
(Psalm 139:13-14)

Sometimes it helps to go back to basics, back to the beginning. I have value because God made me. PERIOD. This is a truth I can pull out every time those evil, self-loathing, devaluing, joy-stealing thoughts come calling. This is a truth I can stand on.

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