I was reading from Galatians last week and when I got to the last chapter I read “From now on, let no one make troubles for me; for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body” (verse 17).
In the notes of my NAB Bible it explained ” The marks of Jesus: Slaves were often branded by marks (stigmata) burned into their flesh to show to whom they belonged; so also were devotees of pagan gods. Paul implies that instead of outdated circumcision, his body bears the scars of his apostolic labors (2Cor 11, 22-31), such as floggings (Acts 16,22; 2Cor 11,25) and stonings (Acts 14,19), that mark him as belonging to the Christ who suffered and will protect His own.”
The first thing that popped into my head were my own scars.
When I became pregnant with my firstborn, I saw websites like this one (warning: contains pictures of Post-partum women, including nudity) and although I dreaded discovering my “new” body after pregnancy/birth, it didn’t matter as much as I’d imagined it would. Since I had already experienced losing my babies to miscarriages, scars seemed to be a small price to pay for my baby.
I thought I was going to make it without stretch marks since I got all the way to a HUGE 37 weeks with only one tiny one. But in those last 3 weeks they suddenly appeared everywhere. Having 2 more children since then has added to my collection of scars strewn artistically across my belly and sides (and legs) and they have bothered me at times. They are especially ugly to me early post-partum before they’ve faded a bit. Why couldn’t I be like one of those miracle women (my mom) who didn’t get any? And why oh why hadn’t I been confident enough to wear that bikini for my hubby back before babies?
But if I think about it this way, the way Paul states it, how interesting. He bore the scars of Jesus, who marked him as His own. Marks that he had received in his calling and vocation as an Apostle. Even though his scars were acquired through floggings and stonings(not exactly something you would put on your resume), he was not ashamed to be marked as belonging to Christ.
I don’t have to be ashamed of my scars. God has given me the body I have, to live out the vocation He has made me for. I have been marked as Jesus’ own through living out my calling and vocation to Motherhood. They may not be seen as beautiful in our culture, but I know what they are.
I bear the marks of Jesus on my Body.