On baby bellies and works of art

Ellie Farmers Market

Editor's Note: I wrote this three years ago when Ellie was just a baby as a journal entry that could be my forever reminder that I'm created in God's image and a beautiful work of art. If you have those moments of deep insecurity, hurt or a sense of unworthiness, then I wrote this post for you. I hope it's an encouragement. 

It was like any other night, and any other bath time. And she stood there, in the middle of the tub, just pouring the warm water in buckets over her head. Every now and then one bucket of full water would drench her to the point where she would gasp, wide-eyed and startled by the amount that had just soaked her. And with a grin, she'd do it again. and again. and again.

But this bath night was different. In the middle of maybe number 20 of the bucket drenching, she stopped. Something caught her eye, and she froze. I couldn't help but watch. With a curious face she looked down, standing in the tub (because sitting is overrated apparently...) she caught sight of her belly. The big, bulging, adorable baby belly that I so love. And for a moment she just stared at it, as if she was really seeing it for the first time. And then, after a brief pause, she took her little hands and with the biggest grin from ear to ear, just rubbed her belly. She couldn't take her eyes off of it. After a good rub, she looked up at me with a smile that could melt the hardest heart, affectionately patting her tummy over and over.

I sat there watching her...and it struck me as both beautiful and sad. She looked at that little belly with the purest heart, knowing that it was hers -- a masterpiece.

I couldn't help but wonder if we all start out that way -- in love with the design and creation of our Father -- round bellies and all. And then I wondered, at what point do our affections for His work of art -- Me and You-- turn into self-loathing?

I'm the kind of girl who would prefer to put on my make-up in the dark, so I don't have to see what the mirror shows -- because when I look, I don't see beauty, I see a litany of imperfections. I see mistakes and what appears to be damaged goods.

What should have been a happy night-time routine, instead made me feel heavy. Because the same self-destructive thought process that I constantly battle with regarding my appearance and self-worth, I fear will someday reflect on my little girl, who at this age sees only her beauty and value. She looks in the mirror and can't help but smile. With only half of her teeth and wild, wavy hair, she sees a face that is loved unconditionally; a Princess in her parents' eyes.

In a passage written for her daughter, author Ann Voskamp wrote: "In the beginning, our God spoke beauty because He is Beauty, and the God of the Bible is an artist and what you must never forget is that you are His art. Touch your face right now and feel what you really are, what His Son whispers, 'My masterpiece worth dying for, my beauty worth redeeming.'"

Friends, that's it! Despite our shortcomings, or perceived imperfections and even the brokenness that we carry with us through our lifetime, our heavenly Father sees us as worthy of redeeming. He sees us as beautiful, because we are his most precious works of art.

He carefully and thoughtfully designed each and everyone of us -- you and me. And although many days still, and many days to come, I look in the mirror and see little to be desired, I have to remember where I came from. None of us, not one, was created on accident. His love for us as his most perfect creation is living proof that we have worth -- proof that we are beautiful in His eyes. And we need only to look to Him for affirmation.

My own confidence and self-worth is a daily battle. It's years of low self-esteem and walls of defenses built up in strongholds.

Bath time was a revelation, though.

I want to look in the mirror, and despite my instincts, have the same affectionate grin as my daughter -- seeing myself, as if for the first time, as a work of art.

It's hard. Really hard. And allowing God to break down my walls, brick by brick, feels painful at times. It feels vulnerable, and reveals wounds that I haven't wanted to tend to. You know what, though? He is the great Healer -- the perfect and almighty Redeemer! And he can do a work in you and me, so that we see ourselves (despite all of our baggage!) as lovely.

I want our sweet girl to know that she is loved and beautiful and a work of amazing art. For her to see herself in that light, that example needs to start with me. (A tough pill to swallow, but a freeing revelation!)

My prayer for her, and for YOU, is that when we look in the mirror, instead of seeing what we perceive as imperfections and brokenness, we see ourselves how God sees us every second of every day-- as beautiful masterpieces, lovely and pure, and so worth loving!

- Michaela