Summer is almost here. Can I hear an “Amen!”?
I love everything about summertime, except that inevitable afternoon when I’ll have no choice but to pull down the blue Tupperware storage bin, and cringe through past seasons of stretched-out and see-through bathing suits.
How is it that the seat of every swimsuit suffers pill-balls and snags? Worse, the realization that I actually wore those sad and saggy bottoms poolside and dockside – in plain view of other humans – is especially unpleasant.
Who of you has gone bathing suit shopping already? Oh you brave, brave souls.
What did you buy?
a) A sporty Speedo one-piece?
b) A modest, not-too-flashy tankini?
c) An itty-bitty yellow, polka-dot bikini?
d) A muumuu?
We live in Texas, for Pete’s sake! Swimming (especially if you have a child in your life) is not an optional summer activity ’round these parts – it’s common law. Perhaps you didn’t know that when the weather gets Lone Star hot, it’s required of all true Austinites to stampede every local water venue within one hundred miles?
And so, we float down pretty green rivers, dive off docks, and rope-swing into shady springs. By September, we’ve typically cruised through at least one-hundred days of SPF 95+ heat like it’s nothin’. It’s just the way we roll.
And yet, in a city of very pretty and outdoorsy people, shopping for a bathing suit can press even the most reasonable of us down, down – ever farther down – into a spiral of despair. Where did those moles come from? And what the heck is that, now? Is hair even supposed to grow there? It’d be better just to cover up, and lay low…
Here’s the cycle, as I see it.
At worst, we hate our bodies. At best, we don’t find our bodies especially beautiful:“Does this tankini pull down far enough to hide my muffin top?”
We don’t want other people to note our obvious (to us) inadequacies or flaws: “I sure hope this knee-length swim-skirt hides my monster thighs.”
We don’t like being subject to more attractive, real-life bodies:“Isn’t it enough to see air-brushed perfection in magazines? Do we all really need to see a real-life Barbie prancing about the neighborhood pool in front of my sons?
We don’t think our bodies compare favorably to the one in the next beach chair: “I bet my husband wishes I had her butt. She must work-out all day long! Must be nice to have all that time – she must not have a job.”
In our own minds, we fall waaaay short: “I wonder what I would need to do, or have done (or buy) to look more desirable?”
And then we might condemn: “I can’t believe she’s wearing that skimpy bikini! Is she really in such need of attention? I’m glad I’m not nearly so shallow.”
Or try to control: “Tonight, I’ll skip dinner, and then hit the treadmill to burn an extra few hundred calories.”
Or we might just give up and cry: “I’m just not going to undress. I’m disgusting. I’ll never change. Why am I this way?”
Come on girls!! It’s time to put on our big-girl panties, examine our hearts, and stop circling the drain.
Do you identify with any of the above scenarios? Which one, in particular?
Know this: our thoughts and anxieties about bathing suit shopping are the fruit of a deeper, more pervasive root that grows in the heart.
Stop and listen to your inner conversations. What is the underlying root that is producing your critical spirit, your frantic striving, or your never-ending anxiety?
Expose it: Be honest and brave. Stand naked and vulnerable before your tender Creator; who calls himself a bridegroom who delights in his bride. His mercies toward us never dry up. He will keep his vow in making all things (us included) beautiful in his time.
Bring it: Bring your pain and shame, and your bitter disappointment to your heavenly Father. Hand it over to his care and safekeeping. He is the only one that can conquer death, create and sustain new life, and make beauty from ashes.
Find it: Find a suit that suits you! Find the courage not to tear down yourself – or others – in order to feel superior. Find the God-given physical and inner beauty of others. Don’t let a swimsuit steal your joy.
Find the joy that plays in ten-thousand places this summer.
Peace (and maybe even a cute suit) to you this summer.