Born to Bear an Image

So I ran a 5K last week.

Well, ran is kind of a strong word.

I ran until the excitement wore off. I walked up two hills with my hands on my hips (as if that helped with the cramping). I jogged until I came upon a group of walkers, then I sped up (as if their pace was TOTALLY slowing me down). And then I sprinted down the final hill (key word: down) in case anyone was watching so they could assume I had run the entire course at that pace (HAHAHAHAHA, deception is so funny!).

The race was untimed. It was laidback. It was really just an excuse to get pelted with color bombs, and maybe to wear a tutu.

[With Pender & the Boul]

I have no idea what my time was. I don’t know how much of it I actually ran. I don’t know how long my armpits stayed green.

But I do know I had fun, that I completed the course, that I crossed the Finish line before the volunteers packed up their things and left.

I remember when three miles was a warm-up. When an 8-minute mile was slow. When I could run up and down a soccer field for ninety minutes straight.

It’s tough, remembering how I used to be.

I used to be fast. I used to be hard. I used to be skinny.

Now I’m slow and soft, rounded and wrinkly where I used to be smooth and flat.

I’m reminded every time I pass by a full-length mirror just how different my body has become. I’m reminded when I struggle up the hill. I’m reminded when my calves burn and my thighs ache and I cannot catch my breath.

But I know the only voice reminding me is my own.

It’s so easy, particularly this time of year, to see God in the golds and the reds and the leaves on fire. It’s easy to see God in the cool fog sifting through the hills of my backyard. It’s easy to feel His extravagant hand when my heart and coffee cup are full.

But it’s near impossible to remember that none of these things were created to bear His image, His own God-breathed likeness. At least not in the way that I am to bear His image; me, a girl with jiggling thighs and a stretch-marked stomach and an awfully biting tongue.

And then I’m reminded that the silver lines in the places that stretched to hold one baby and then another should count as badges of honor. That my soft lap is perfect for sleepy little heads to rest while watching cartoons. That my arms, though pieces of them sway when I do something ostentatious like wave, are the ones they rush into for comfort.

That God the Father is clearest and closest in the quiet moments of parenting, the ones that go unnoticed until my heart just bursts from the effort of loving too hard.

And then I feel His stamp on me, even on the places that are stretched and folded.

Or maybe especially on those places, the places that have stretched and folded to make room for two tiny people. The places that bear the image of God the Father whose love is larger than the places, even with all that extra room.

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18 Comments

Filed under Faith

18 responses to “Born to Bear an Image

  1. A very loud amen, from one aging athlete to another–great, great job evoking the same wistfulness and bittersweet joy that I too often feel–until I recall my true gratitude and rediscover His grace.

  2. Amen, I say Amen…I have had four little ones and I may just about have given up on ever getting back to the before and just starting down the path of being ok with that. “But I know the only voice reminding me is my own.” – we are our own worst critics – we are so damn hard on ourselves, when everyone else just looks at us and sees friend – sister – wife, we see flaws. I am going to try to see less with my eyes and more with my heart. Thanks for your amazing words friend. (ps I couldn’t have run down the hill, much less the rest of it.)

  3. How very beautiful Jess. Gosh. I think you should try to get this published somewhere. So many of your essays are just magnificent and inspirational. Like you.

  4. I was just remembering yesterday that I was fast. And that each year I am slowing down. And one day, I will be fast again. But I won’t have to run.

  5. You are amazing. So proud of you!

  6. Love this! Thank you for your amazing perspective!

  7. julie dawson

    That’s beautiful Jessie.

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