A few weeks ago an older Costa Rican woman who I hardly know came to our house. I walked downstairs after feeding Selah to put on some coffee and some bread for this lady, whom we will just call “Natalie”. I am always trying to bless this woman and show her Jesus. So when I came downstairs, I was a completely caught off guard by her comment. And I quote, “Cindy (yes, Cindy not Sidney)… You still look like you did when you were pregnant. Your stomach is still out and you walk like a pregnant lady.” (Insert very fake smile here as my response….. I mean really…. what do you say back to a thing like that?! I of course refrained from all of the rude or sarcastic responses I was dying to say).
As I thought more about what Natalie said to me, I felt the Lord speak to my heart. “You are a vessel of my creation. We have co-created together and you have given love to an eternal being.” A vessel for the Lord. I carried something that He knit together inside of me. I created life with God!
Yes, bearing a life leaves stretch marks. Us women tend to hate those things. But why?! They are a badge of honor. What you cannot see from these stretch marks are the much larger stretch marks on my heart…. my stretched marked heart. My heart after meeting Selah has never been the same. It continues to stretch. It continues to have a greater capacity for love…. greater than I ever could have know.
My heart has stretched. It has a greater capacity for compassion and pain of others. As I read about miscarriages, infertility, child refugees drowning and a parent surviving to remember it, orphans, parents who lose a child, my girls who were raped and have a child they love but never wanted, abuse; my heart breaks in a new and much deeper way than ever before.
My heart has stretched. It has a much greater capacity for joy and for love. I can be brought to tears so quickly now! I can love more difficult people because I know that they are someone’s baby… that they are God’s baby… and I somehow have a new understanding (although very inadequate) of what that means to Him.
There are things in life that mark us forever. Sometimes you see those marks- sometimes they’re even stretch marks. Lord, let us cherish these marks- the blessing of life- the blessing of co-creating with you. Sometimes those marks are on the heart. Sometimes they are beautiful- like the ones on my heart that I bare after meeting my Selah Grace. Sometimes they are painful- like the ones I also bear after seeing people I love and work with die after a life of injustice- sometimes those also appear as wrinkles on the face. Each stretch mark on our hearts; both the sweet and the sour, mark (as if a tattoo) milestones in our relationship with the Lord. They are monuments. They are pillars of remembrance. We are living! We are loving and hurting- sharing two very strong emotions in the Lord’s heart as well.
I am so thankful for those stretch marks. I am eternally thankful for that stretch marked heart.