Yesterday was my first public pool/beach experience for this summer season. As we were packing up to go and I was choosing which swimsuit to wear the dilemma began and then came the challenge to myself. When I challenge myself it's really not a challenge in my own strength, but more a challenge of faith. You see I am learning that everything in my life as a believer centers around faith. Not faith in faith, but faith in Christ and believing His word and displaying my belief through my obedience to it. Obedience is evidence of faith and faith is not faith until it is tested.
What on earth can test a woman's faith more than a public pool?
The dilemma came as I was choosing what suit to wear:
Option 1: Somewhat modest bikini
Option 2: Not so modest bikini
Option 3: Tankini with skirted bottom
Rationalization of Options:
Option 1: Well it's pretty modest and I could keep a tank top on
Option 2: Only wear this one at our family's pool when just family will be there or with my husband by my side at the beach, but I do have some swim trunks now from VBS that will match the top, could wear the bikini top and shorts
Option 3: Would not get as much sun and will have a skirt tan line, but would not embarrass my girls or compromise the standard we have set for them in suit choosing and I would feel comfortable walking around in it
Okay, Option 3 is the winner.
Now on the way to the pool comes the challenge.
Oh Father, please help me to have a good time today. Help me not to compare myself to another woman here. Let me not make myself feel better or worse about my appearance by comparing myself to some other female.
You see I have allowed my entire pool or beach experience to be ruined at times because I saw some other female with a figure that I thought I could in no way ever measure up to and God help my poor husband if he even looked in her general direction. I would spend the rest of the trip in fear that when he looked at or touched me he was wishing I was her.
Then there are the times that I have found myself scanning the vicinity comparing myself to those in the what I considered to be the less than perfect figure categoryy and saying to myself, "well I look better than her" and then allowing this to determine my confidence in myself.
"For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding. But we will not boast beyond our measure, but within the measure of the sphere which God apportioned to us as a measure, to reach even as far as you." (2 Corinthians 10:12-13)
How dangerous it is for we as Christian women to determine our worth and confidence by comparing ourselves with each other and measuring ourselves by each other. Does not our society do that enough? I do not want my daughters to gain their confidence and worth by their outer appearance so I cannot do it myself. How dare I tear another person down in order to make me feel better about myself, even if I do it without their knowing it. The Lord looks at my heart. I want my heart to be pleasing to my God.
I also no longer want to measure myself by myself. I have learned that my mirror lies to me. I can look in it one morning and be pleased in what I see. Then not even a week later I can look in that very same mirror and all I can see is stretch marks, a bottom that's just not what it used to be, legs with cellulite, arms that are now waving in a way that they never did when I was "raising the roof" ten years ago. I will leave the bathroom determined never to eat again and to work out 6 hrs a day until I look 21 again.
The only mirror I can trust is the mirror of God's Word.
The Word of God tells me that "All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field... The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God stands forever." (Isaiah 40:6-8) How foolish is it of me to put my hope and confidence and worth in something that is not lasting. What determines somethings true value, even in our society, but that it is something that lasts. This flesh will not last. No matter how many protein shakes you drink, no matter the gym membership, no matter the surgeries, the loveliness of this flesh will fade so if I put my confidence in this withering fading flesh then my confidence, my worth, will wither and fade with it.
"for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh," (Philippians 3:3)
So my challenge to myself was not to compare myself this day with another female in any way. My challenge was not to look at another woman and say "well, I used to look like that" or "good grief, I could never look like that" or "at least I don't look like that."
My challenge was to enjoy the day with my girls-> heart to heart not flesh to flesh.
My challenge was to show my girls that living a life of faith is trusting God to see you through every part of your life, even the public pool experience as a middle-aged happily married mom :-)
Did the Lord help me meet this challenge? I can tell you with all honesty and confidence that yes He did. He did by giving me His Spirit to dwell in me and be my Helper and giving me the strength and authority in Christ to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-6)
"For the Lord will be your confidence..." (Proverbs 3:26)