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The number of times I’ve said no.
The number of times I’ve replied, ‘No” to the question, “Are you pregnant,” when in my mind, clearly I was not!
Have you been asked the big ask? Maybe one of the following scenarios that I have encountered with the big ask sounds all too familiar to you:
A few pounds-or even several pounds—gained here or there and people’s minds begin to wonder, followed by their mouths starting to inquire, “Are you pregnant?”
A few months after delivery and you’re still not back to your pre-baby weight clothes but are doing your best to get it back and someone says, “When’s the baby due?”
Perhaps, as was the case for me a month ago, five years postpartum mind you, someone queries, “You’re not pregnant are you?”
What?!?! I woke up this morning feeling like I looked good. Make that, for the first time in a few successive weeks, I got ready, looked in the mirror before I walked out the door, and without a qualifier thought, I look good today. On a morning when I wasn’t pushing disappointed thoughts to the side that my stomach was rounder than I would like in total consideration of the joyful effort I put into being in shape, and I am asked the big ask!
If you are empathically identifying with me, you understand thebig ask can be difficult because we women so closely tie our self-worth and self-importance to our image…even though we know better.
Let’s face it, the big ask stinks if the answer is a big no.
For any woman, it is embarrassing and discomforting to be asked if we are with child when in fact we are not. It can be difficult for various reasons which may include the following:
For women in that last category, the big ask is most likely the most painful. That’s why, even though it may cost you a great deal of patience or leave you desiring information you don’t have, it is best to let a mother-to-be share the news herself—if in fact she is a mother-to-be.
Remember, pregnant women most likely will plaster baby news on their social media or speak as they glowingly rub their baby bump if they are with child. Avoiding the big ask will spare you undue embarrassment and a fellow woman undue pain.
When the question is asked and we, as graciously as possible, communicate the negative, how do we move forward in victorious thinking? How can we respond to this question and not lose our confidence in the healthy body God has given us? We can consider these five viewpoints:
1. God is ultimately concerned with our hearts and not our shape. He values holiness, kindness, gentleness, obedience to His will and caring for His people as the measure of His disciples; not a number on the scale. Not one time in the Bible is a woman’s girth mentioned. We don’t even know what Samson looked like, only that he was strong. David and Joseph were noted as being handsome and a few women in the Bible as being beautiful in form, but their measurements were not recorded. Why is that? Because it isn’t baseline measurements that equal true beauty and strength. Beauty and strength take many forms.
2. A disciplined life includes taking care of our temples, but does not mean making an idol out of them. While we want to look our best, that best will vary in different stages of life. Health and physical wellness is the goal, not a number on the scale or the size of our jeans. Fitness goals are good. However, we can reset our baseline, if needed, considering our stage in life. Pounds will come and go, the number on the scale will change, but character should be steadfast.
3. The devil wants to distract you from what truly matters in life. The distraction of self-doubt may be one of his greatest pressure points for women.Worrying over our shape can cause us to falter in our daily responsibilities. Further, our lack of patience and grace with ourselves can overflow to a lack of patience and grace extended to our families. Give yourself the grace that you would like for your best friend to give herself.
4. Other people don’t see you the way you see yourself. People who know and love you will likely see you as better than you see yourself. We are our own worst critics…even though well-intentioned people may wrongly ask the big ask. Consider, what about you draws other people to Jesus? It most definitely has to do with your character, acts of service, and the way you treat your fellow man, not your body!
5. Remember: do not take to heart everything people say. We have all made mistakes and said things that in retrospect we wish we hadn’t. We should realize that sometimes people speak before they think or with sincerity of wishing others well. Most likely, if we are askedthe big ask, and we answer the big no, the person who asked will feel terrible. Instead of replaying the situation over and over in our minds, we can go to the scriptures and recite affirming verses from Psalm 139 or Colossians 3.
I’ve talked to other women who were asked the big ask and responded by throwing away the dress they had on when asked or by cleaning out all the pregnant looking clothes in their closet. However, these responses, while gratifying in some ways in the short term, will not push us towards Jesus.
Some questions hurt; the big ask is one of them. No matter how many times the question arises to the negative for us, may we rise above the deceitful thinking that the enemy wants us to wallow in.
We are more than our silhouettes and the number on a scale. We are women strong in the Lord Jesus and mighty in His power. We will take captive those negative body image thoughts that are thrown in our direction, and we will replace them with the truth of God’s word. We are valued, we are loved, and we are being made beautiful and righteous every day in the image of our Creator. Look beyond the things that are seen and to the eternal life that is unseen. Give grace where grace is needed and take an extra portion for yourself.
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Brooke Cooney is a pastor's wife, mother of two, and foster-mom of one. To capture the eternal in the everyday, she blogs about family, faith, and lessons along the journey at ThisTemporaryHome.com.