Ep. 71 || Mom Bods & The Gospel

The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily:  Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I am Emily Jensen here with my sister-in-law, Laura Wifler. We are so excited to be back, recording after a maternity leave for both of us. We both had babies this summer. 

Laura:  Yes, it’s been an incredibly long time since we recorded. We’re both feeling pretty rusty and sleep deprived. I am literally sitting in spit-up laid-in yoga pants. [laughter] I am the epitome of a tired mom that has a newborn; that’s for sure. 

Emily:  Today, our goals are to share some exciting stuff with you guys about the fall. We haven’t necessarily been recording, but we have still been doing a lot of stuff behind the scenes for Risen Motherhood we that want to share with you and then also, we are going to talk a little bit about mom bods, mom bodies, body image after you’ve had children. Obviously, Laura and I are heavy in the thick of it right now.    

Laura:  [laughs] I am not sure we should be talking about this right now. 

Emily:  I shouldn’t even be using the word ‘thick’. [laughter] 

Laura:  That is a word that describes us quite well. [laughter]  No, it’s a little sensitive topic right now but we are excited because I feel like it’s real, and it’s real for no matter where you are at, after babies, so we are excited to talk about that later. 

Emily:  First off, in case you don’t follow us on social media @RisenMotherhood, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, Laura had Eden Lynn on June 8, and I had Evelyn Ann August 4.  

Laura:  They are both sweet little ladies and we are excited for them to be both best friends growing up. [laughter] We also have another announcement. We added our sister-in-law, Becca Jensen. She is joining our team, which we are super excited about. Emily and I are more on the writing and the content creation of things and we ... basically can’t count at all. [laughter] 

Emily:  We can do some math. We are smart in different ways, but our sister-in-law, Becca was a middle school math teacher. I always love that whatever we say, she’s already gotten to the solution of the problem mathematically before we’ve even thought that there was a math problem to begin with.

Laura: We’re excited to have her on to help us out with the financial stuff. It’s so fun to be three sister-in-laws working on a project about the Gospel, which is something we are all so passionate about. We are really, really blessed to have her added to our team. Also, you guys have requested this over, and over, and over again and so we are launching transcriptions this fall. We are slowly back filling the archives, so we’re trying to get those as far as we can, but going forward as well, we will be doing those as the shows come out. Even this show right now, you can hop onto our website and you can click on ‘view transcription.' If you work, or if it’s just easier for you to read, or we’ve heart you guys are using these podcasts to discuss with a group of mom friends, hopefully it will be a great reference for you to be able to check out the transcriptions, see it in writing and consume it another way.     

Emily:  Another thing we are really looking forward to – we’ve been wanting to do this for a while, is to continue to add more voices to Risen Motherhood, and more experiences, and so our blog, will, Lord-willing this fall will feature a lot of different writers, and different voices, and different topics that maybe Laura and I don’t feel equipped to cover. We are really excited about that, and also excited about a lot of highly requested shows that we’ve processed through over the summer a little bit, and we are going to try to tackle some hard topics this fall, getting some great interviews, and I think we have an ‘Ask Us Anything’ slated for October, right Laura?     

Laura:  Yes, it’s one of our top listened to shows, which always blows me away, and it was really fun because that was one that we didn’t prepare super heavily for last spring, but we were able to shoot some stuff off the cuff and get more candid with you guys, so we are looking forward to that.  

Emily:  The final thing I want to mention because I just drank out of it this morning, and I’m super excited about it is Risen Motherhood mugs have arrived at our sister-in-law Becca’s house, and we’re planning to give some of those away this week, right Laura?   

Laura:  Yes, and we want to give away some of these mugs to you guys! We worked with The Created Co. to get these coffee mugs made. They are really fun. I haven’t seen them yet – Em, can you describe them?  

Emily:  They are mat black, which is cool, to reflect the Risen Motherhood brand and they have a pretty pink peony on them. It says, “Risen Motherhood,” pretty small. You don’t have to scream Risen Motherhood on anyone while you’re drinking it. [laughs] It’s really nice and subtle and hopefully, something that is just fun. I don’t know; I always like a new coffee mug.  

Laura:  We are really excited to have them and you can’t buy them anywhere so we hope that you win one this week. [laughs] 

Emily: I think that that was our business that we wanted to take care of, our announcements, our ‘hey’. We hope that you guys are excited about the fall and here are things that are coming but now it’s time to dive into the mom bod conversation. Obviously this is something that is high on Laura and I’s mind [laughter] because both of us are pretty newly postpartum. There is a lot of pressure from the culture postpartum to immediately look like you didn’t have a baby. 

Laura: Pretty much. And today we’re talking about even beyond postpartum, I think it’s near and dear to our hearts right now, but we’re talking about how after babies everything changes permanently. It doesn’t matter if you get back to that goal, the weight, or you fit into the pants, sometimes the pants still don’t fit you quite right! It’s a permanent change, having babies. There’s so much pressure on what we need to look like, and how we should feel, and how our bodies should act after babies. So we’re talking about all the changes that happen and how hard it is, but also the hope of the gospel.

Emily: And Laura, I don’t know what influences your mind as you’re looking at your postpartum body, but I know that generally, right after I gave birth, I had this moment where I’d look in the mirror and think, “I am so skinny.”  And I am so proud of how I am doing, and then you get home, and four days later, you look at yourself again and you’re like, “Whoa, I look like five months pregnant still!” [laughter]

Laura: I know! I told the nurse, right after I had my son; my first born, I was literally laying on the table, I just looked at my son, and I just said to her, “Look how skinny I am!” [laughter] I literally said that to the nurse. [laughter] That’s how delusional I was.

Emily: It’s literally like the race is on for your stomach to go back. It’s like you start the mental countdown, like, “Okay, how many months of an excuse do I have before I feel like I should look normal again, and if I don’t, I am out of excuses?” That’s kind of the stuff that goes through my mind, which is really distorted.

Laura: And far beyond, after you recover and you feel like you’re looking great; the body image thing, up and down, your body is just not "20-year-old pre-baby" anymore. There are long-lasting effects on your body image after you have kiddos.

Emily: Obviously this is something we want to apply the gospel to. We don’t want to just accept what the culture’s telling us, or accept the messages that are in our own mind about the way our body looks, and how we should be prioritizing that or not. We’re going to think about, in creation, how God originally designed Adam and Eve perfectly. Laura and I, as we were preparing for this show, we talked about how Eve would have had the perfect Whole 30 diet [laughter]. She had the whole garden; whole 30. She probably would have had a great body that wasn’t – not necessarily "greatness"  in the sense of what our culture thinks is great – but however God originally designed it to be "great." She wasn’t impacted by age or stretch marks or scars or any type of habits like gluttony that would have put on extra pounds, and things that weren’t necessary.

We don’t know all the details of that, but what we do know, is that God originally created her to be beautiful and perfect, and to reflect Him.

Laura: At that time too, a big key point is that she delighted only in God. He delighted in her exactly as she was, and she wasn’t focusing on self. But because of the Fall, we know that that stopped. Immediately she started wanting to delight in herself, she wanted to worship self, she began to doubt God’s version of beauty and she truly wanted to be divine, and not having those limits of restrictions.

I think we’ve mentioned Hannah Anderson on every show almost since we’ve had her on our show, but I love the quote from Humble Roots; it flipped my world upside down. She has a few pages on body image, but she says, “We do not hate our bodies for what they are; we hate them for what they are not. We hate them for not being God-like.” And basically she goes on to say that just like Adam and Eve, today we reject the bodies that tell us that we can’t be God. And so that’s what happened in the Fall, that all of our value was put in ourselves, and not in its proper place. 

Emily: That’s when all of the shame entered too. The shame of how we look, and worrying too much about that. But thankfully, God did not leave us there, and we have freedom in Christ; we are free from having to feel shame about our outward appearance, or being dissatisfied about the way we look because it’s not about us. It’s about God, and it is about what He is doing in our hearts, and that’s really what God cares about – our motives.

That Hannah Anderson quote is really important in the gospel, and redemption reminds us that we have to be dependent on God at the cross, we have to accept our limitations, we have to see our imperfections, and be repentant, and that we don’t need to be focused on ourselves. We’re not living for ourselves anymore. We have died with Christ, we’ve been raised with Him, and now we are going to live for Him, and not for our own idea of the way we should look.

Laura: Every time I pick up my 40 pound toddler and my arms start to shake, – you know how after pregnancy you suddenly get weaker or have wrinkles, moles, or more freckles and stuff – every time I look at things like that I am like, “This is weakness. This is the sign of things changing and the fall, and now that can be a picture of my dependency on Christ.” Every time we see another wrinkle, you have another C-section scar, or you have stretch marks, those are signs of the fall, but those are also signs that point you to the fact that you are limited; you are not God, and that Christ came back to save you, and that you serve a limitless God.

Emily: I love that as we look ahead to the future, and where our hope is, we are going to have a restored body someday when Christ returns, we don’t have to have it now. In all of eternity, the verse says, When we see Christ, we will be like Him.” We don’t know all the details of that, but again, Christ came back with scars, and I don’t know all the deep theological nuances, but we can know that, “It’s okay because this is short and momentary, and we are truly here on this earth to serve Him and do good works. We don’t have to have the perfect, non-weak body right now.” 

Laura: God isn’t asking us to have this perfect pre-baby 20-year-old body. [laughter] That is not found in the Bible, and it’s important to see that there is very little emphasis ever placed on what your body looks like, or even certain healthy eating styles or exercise regimens.  We’re supposed to be self-controlled, self-disciplined, but we’re not getting this pressure from scripture to be this goddess-like body. It’s definitely coming from culture. God’s ideas about beauty are all heart-related things.

Emily: There’s no Galatians 5:3 “This is how you should look on the outside [laughter] and this is the time by which your jeans should button again. [laughter]

Laura: You need to have a six-pack please.” [laughter]

Emily: I think one of the reasons why we wanted to talk through this and think through this, is because sometimes, we think body image issues are isolated in our minds. At least that’s what I think like, "I’m the only person who knows that I think about this, and I am the only one who knows I am worrying about this." But really, it spills over into every other relationship that we have. I see that it hinders my ability to love those around me, and it hinders ministry and things, so we just wanted to talk through a couple of ways to be aware that when we’re not believing in the gospel, and what it says about our body image, it is probably impacting relationships.

Laura: The first one is, are you letting the way that you believe you look, affect your intimacy in marriage? Are you able to accept compliments from your husband? Do you believe that you are worthy of his, or anyone’s – for that matter – love and affection? Our body image can do a huge number on affecting those things, and so we don’t want to let that control us, in the way that we interact, especially with the person who is most dear to us.

Emily: Some of you guys know I welcomed my first daughter this summer, and I have four other sons, and even to think about how I’m passing along God’s idea of beauty to her as she gets older. Does she see me focusing on external appearance all the time? I just started to think about, wanting to pass on the importance of heart motivations. That is what God cares about and it’s crazy because if I have a distorted view of how important my physical appearance is, or even how quickly I want to get rid of my mom bod, I am going to impress upon her,  without realizing it,

Laura: The conversation always lends itself to daughters pretty quickly, but both of us, having sons, body image and the way we view ourselves, affects our boys too. They’re watching us; men are not immune to unhealthy body image. A big thing that we can model to our boys is that, not only how they view themselves when, maybe a girl rejects them someday for a date, or they don’t make the baseball team or something. But also, when they are looking for a wife someday, we can help them know what kind of woman to look for. Do they go after the ones who are really insecure and fretful about what people think about them? Or are they looking for a woman who’s really confident, and the only one whose opinion matters, and that’s God’s.

Emily: Other ways it can also affect us, obviously is our attitude. I don’t know Laura if you’ve experienced this, you probably do, feeling a little- 

Laura: I know what you’re going to say. [laughter]

Emily: You’re feeling a little frumpy [laughter] and you’re feeling a little not happy about your external appearance, and it can really affect your attitude and the way that you treat those around you. I feel ultimately, that that is as a result of self-focus. Any time we’re overly focused on us, and how we’re doing, it can cause that. But for sure, with body image.

Laura:  I feel like my attitude just spills - my frustration about what I look like – spills right into my relationships. 

Then looking at our our time; it can be easy to spend an unhealthy amount of time on body image. Not just in, “I have to do this workout, I have to eat like this, I have to put on this makeup, I have to take off this makeup and put on special overnight creams and all of those things.” Which aren’t bad in and of themselves, but then again we also spend all this extra time thinking about it, researching, "What are the right things? What’s going to make me look ageless? What is going to make me feel good today?" When we start putting all of this time into it, we’re focusing in on the wrong things. I love the Keller quote that says, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less. And so let your affections be on Christ, and not on yourself.”

Emily:  Speaking of thinking of ourselves less, the more that we’re focused on dissatisfaction with the body that we have, the more reclusive we can be. We are meant to live out the good works that God has prepared before, and for us. We want to be bold in our serving. Sometimes I feel like, when we’re focused on body image, we can say “no” to opportunities because we don’t want people to see we haven’t lost that 10 pounds from baby. 

Laura: I remember getting asked to do some announcements in front of a women’s bible study, and I was like, “Mmm, no” because then everyone will see all the things that I don’t like. That is all that they’re going to look at; they’re not even going to hear me, they’re going to be focusing on all those things I don't like. That is warped and incorrect, but I wanted to pass on a serving opportunity simply because I didn’t want all eyes on me. So, there’s an example. Don’t let that be you. [laughter]

Emily:  Practical is always subjective, but we wanted to leave you guys with a few ideas. 

First of all, you’re probably not going to be surprised by this, but get in the Word. I feel like that’s about the only way we can renew our minds and have right thinking and be able to meditate on what is true – to know the gospel, to know what it is that God wants us to be focused on and caring about. To know what it is He’s not asked us to worry about and honestly, just to get our hearts focused on the right thing. We can’t do that if we’re not regularly in God’s Word, which I am now preaching to myself because postpartum, that is incredibly hard. 

Laura: We were both just talking before we recorded the show about how much we have lacked and missed being in God’s Word, and how we feel ill-prepared to record, but we’re grateful. God uses all seasons, and He shows up for us. Yes, get in the Word, and we’re preaching to ourselves. Also, along with that praying for a proper view has been my number one thing that has changed my view of self. It’s asking God to change my heart, and to adjust my expectations of being fully satisfied in Him, and not looking for that in the way I look.

Other practical things are like, maybe you need to stop weighing yourself, or you need to stop trying to put on those jeans that are too small [laughter] and dying all day because they’re way too tight [laughter]. 

Emily: You know when you put on something in the morning, you’re like, “It fits!”  and then at four o’clock you’re like, “It does not fit. It definitely does not fit” [laughter]. 

Laura: Emily Voxed me the other day and was like, “Today I put on my first pair of real jeans,”  and she’s like, “This is worthy of an announcement!"  Like, “But they were way too tight, way too tight but I did it” [laughter] 

Emily: I regretted it. I wanted all the maternity pants back in the afternoon [laughter]. 

Laura: I was cheering you on!

Emily: I reburied them in my drawer [laughter], get those out of sight. But in general, maybe it is spending less time on hair, makeup, clothing, getting ready because you’re like, "I have been really focused on that." Maybe there’s this season to just let off of it a little bit. Or maybe you’ve just been avoiding taking care of yourself because you feel ashamed about the way you look, and so you haven’t invested any time in that. Maybe you need to. Go get a haircut, get a new whatever it is that’s going to help you stop, not be so self-focused, and feel a little bit more comfortable.

Laura: Or maybe you need to think about your words in front of your children and just check yourself. If they’re in the bathroom hanging out with you while you put on your makeup, or you’re at the pool and you’re not willing to get in the water for reasons that are, because of the way that you look, maybe a lot of it is just checking your words, and how you speak about yourself in front of your kids.

Emily: And final caveat, I feel like when you have a mom bod, you’re always worried that other people are looking at you and judging you, and speaking of myself, I am never looking around and thinking about mom bods [laughter]. Honestly I am always looking around thinking about how awesome, especially my friends and stuff, what a great job they’re doing and things. It’s just funny; we always think people are worried more about our bodies than they really are. They’re not!

Laura: Yes. A hundred percent. That is so true, Emily. [laughter] In closing, just remember that your body is supposed to be imperfect. It will never be like the airbrushed, photo-shopped pictures, it wont do everything that you ask it to do because we’re made with limits. 

We have to learn to adjust our expectations, and while it’s important to be healthy and self-controlled and take care of the body that God has given you, we also need to embrace that weakness that we have, in full humility, and let it point us to God who is limitless, and is perfect. We want our weakness to point us straight to God, and the God who saves us, and one day we’ll redeem our bodies as well.

Emily: For more information and resources on this, you can find us at risenmotherhood.com. Check us out on social media at risenmotherhood.com. Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.  Hope you guys join us back here next week.