Coping With Body Changes
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." John 15:1-8
Can you believe that cowlick in the picture on the left? Can you imagine that my stomach got even bigger than that in pregnancy on the right?
Keeping up with the constant changes our bodies face over a lifetime can be difficult. There are so many, especially in the life of a woman! These are things either I have said about myself or have heard other women in my life say about their stage of life:
Adolescence: “My hair used to be blonde and straight. Now it’s dark, curly, and I don’t know what to do with it."
Pregnancy: "I’m pregnant, feel sick, and don’t want to see myself in the mirror. My other pregnant friends are glowing. Meanwhile, I’m growing in ways I didn’t think was possible.”
Menopause: “I just can’t lose this belly fat anymore, and I have been eating better than ever.”
Senior status: “My skin is just so thin. It doesn’t bounce back like it used to."
Take heart! Not only does our God walk through those changes with us and loves us the same, but He gives us renewed purpose in each stage of life.
Invisible Fruit Of Eternal Worth
What's a good way to cope with the constant changes? Staying connected. When we are connected to the vine (depending on Jesus), and giving thanks for the Father, we will put less of our identity in our body’s appearance and more into who we are connected to. Life will be less about what we look like and more about Who we're with.
Instead of untagging pictures and spending emotional energy over the mirror, we can focus on the fruit. We can learn to embrace our body and give thanks for it, using it for the humbling work of the Kingdom, for the invisible fruit of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:23).
Just because you can't hold this fruit in your hand, it doesn't mean it's useless. It holds surpassing value. The fruit of the Spirit gives long-lasting life, beyond anything we can create on our own. My friend Amia said it this way: “every fruit (re)produces its own kind! There are seeds within each one, no matter how big or how small it is, still fruit…with life in it AS LONG AS it’s still attached to the vine.”
The Gardner Loves His Branches
Jesus said that remaining in Him, trusting Him, believing Him, depending and leaning on Him “is to my Father’s glory, that your bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (v. 8). God the gardener takes care of us, the branches. That's branches, plural, not branch, singular. We are branches together, and none of us is less or more than the other. We are all connected to the vine, a part of the bigger work of producing fruit for the kingdom, which is to give glory to the gardener.
If we are constantly fretting over our own body’s branch, we have little room to give glory to the gardener, and our focus is probably not on the resulting fruit. Will worry over wrinkles take any of them away? No. If God can dress beautiful wildflowers in the grass, sustain trees over hundreds of years, push weeds through cracks in the sidewalk, how much more will He take care of you, His child? He knows what He is doing. Trust the gardener. He loves His vine and branches!
And remember that God has a sense of humor, so you can laugh too. I frequently send a group text postpartum wacky hair picture to a few other close mom friends. They send theirs back to me, and we can all laugh together. I bet whatever you're going through, there's someone else who can relate. You're not alone!
The Gardener Is For You
“Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’” John 20:15
Imagine you are in Mary’s shoes. You think God is gone, that He has abandoned you, that you are all alone. You still seek him, and when you ask around, suddenly Jesus turns to you and says your name. It’s Jesus! He’s alive and your friend. He cares for you.
The gardener is not in some distant land. He has been there with you since the womb, through every growth spurt, pimple, wrinkle, and hot flash. The gardener is Jesus, raised from the dead, who will be with us through every change in life, whether that be adolescence or menopause, and will be with us through death, into eternal life with Him.
Reflect and Respond:
1. What changes are you experiencing now? How have you been able to give thanks through it? Have you been able to laugh?
2. Do you ever hear accusatory voices saying that you are out of control of your own body or that everyone else is put together except for you? Give that control over to the Lord. He is the one who cares for you.
Edited by: Danielle Holmes