The Gospel is Still Beautiful in Ugly Moments

It’s been a while since I wrote anything here, but here I am, back with some half baked thoughts.

I hate my stretch marks.

No, this isn’t about to be some inspiring post about learning to love your body despite your flaws and embracing body positivity. Just bear with me.

My three year old is fascinated by my stretch marks. She’s always pointing at them when I’m in a bikini, asking what happened and how I got my booboos. The first time she asked, I told her that it happened when I was pregnant with her. She got very quiet and then said, “I’m sorry I hurt you,” before kissing my belly. Sometimes even the rowdiest pre-schoolers have a deeply sensitive side.

Recently, however, she’s been wanting to know more and more about what it was like when she was a baby. How did I get out of your belly? What was I like? Did it hurt? Did I cry? Did you cry? Lots of questions about birth! So I explain and tell stories and mime out what I looked like when I had a 21 inch long baby in my belly. And she laughs and enjoys the stories.

Until she asked when she could be born again.

There are moments you long for as a parent. You can’t wait to hear them say I love you, you get excited about showing them things you love, and you pray from the moment you know you’re going to have a baby for their salvation. This was one of those big moments: the moment I got to share the gospel with my three year old. I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited in my life!

In little terms, I got to explain what regeneration looks like. I told her that she can never come out of my belly again, but that if Jesus comes into her heart, she becomes a new creation and we call that being born again. She asked a lot of questions, got stuck on the idea that Jesus was a baby in the manger, made the world’s saddest face when I told her that Jesus died for her disobedience, got super excited when she found out He rose again, and affirmed that she had to be “happy and obedient,” a connection she made by herself. And then she went back to playing.

It’s the terrifying thing about parenthood. You plant seeds and then have to trust God to water them. I didn’t think she’d even remember having this conversation; she’s three, she lives in a world where she’s a lion or a horse or a princess or Spider-Man at any given hour. How do you understand the gospel at three?

But God is good. Where we faithfully plant seeds, He will faithfully water.

Over breakfast the next day, my brother and I were talking about ways to explain regeneration. Lily’s ears perked up and she said, “Jesus live in my heart and I’m born. No out of a belly.” We talked for a little while longer about Jesus, how He died and rose again to rescue us, how He helps us be happy and obedient out of love. And then she smeared yoghurt all over her face. Duality of preschooler.

But as I cleaned her up, my heart was so full of joy! It was such a basic understanding. But it’s a seed and such a blessing to see! God moves in the hearts of even the smallest among us.

I was struck by the fact that we might not have had these conversations if she hadn’t been so fascinated by my stretch marks. Something I see as ugly sparked an interest in something holy. But isn’t this how God works? He, the creator of the world who makes something out of nothing, also takes ugly broken things and transforms them into new creations. He takes dead hearts and gives them new life. He uses trials that we find unbearable to refine us into people who trust Him. He redeems the irredeemable. He takes my stretch marks and uses them to help me share the gospel with my daughter.

How much do we trust that He is using the broken things in our lives to tell the great story of His glory and gospel? Life is full of messy moments. Scratch that… That’s too simple. Life is full of devastating moments. There are situations that crush you, moments that you feel you will never survive, burdens that feel too heavy to carry. But do we trust that the God of the universe, the God who has promised to be enough, really is faithfully enough?

I want my life to be a reflection of the gospel, no matter the stage I find myself. When my life is good and full of happiness, God is faithful. When my life is dark and terrifying, God is faithful. When moments are ugly, the gospel is beautiful.

We all hate the ugly times. We hate the scars. I hate the stretch marks. But God can use even these moments to tell His story. May He give us the ability to preach His goodness with our entire lives!

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