If life were a beach, I would have no cellulite. Because I am vain enough that if given the “opportunity” to wear a bathing suit every day of my life, I would work harder to look good wearing one.
Clothes cover a multitude of sins. I’ve said that with a smile on my face over the years, and in saying it, I’ve given myself permission to keep right on overeating–because I can cover it up. For more years than I can remember, I’ve taken to wearing bathing suits with those cute skirts for bottoms. I’ve hidden behind what are true reasons–“I’m just being modest” and “Less skin exposed, less sunscreen needed; it’s economical!”–but the bigger truth is, I’m vain. In fact, I could equate my modest coverage to Moses’ wearing of a veil to cover the fact that the glory of the Lord was fading from his face (2 Corinthians 3:13). I have worn more and more fabric to hide the fact that the glory of my youth has faded as well.
Thankfully, I live in the center of the state and, quite simply, don’t have many opportunities to wear a bathing suit on a day-to-day basis. My 5′ 10 1/2″ frame generally displays clothes well, and I have often told people that one of the reasons I like being tall is that I can eat more than the average female. Which makes me doubly ashamed that I’ve eaten so much that I’m not comfortable in my own skin. My own lumpy skin. Because this year, a cute little skirted bathing suit isn’t enough to cover my multitude of sins.
I’m tempted to begin scuba diving so that I can legitimately wear a wetsuit. I’ve lamented that our styles for swimsuits haven’t returned to the early 1900s, when modesty (i.e. swim dresses with bloomers) was the norm. But mostly, I’ve grieved the loss of my younger body (and consoled myself with food, of course).
Twice I’ve entered stores featuring Spanx–and walked out without purchasing anything. While a skirted bathing suit seems OK, I am drawing the line at compression undergarments. I also am rethinking my former disrespect for those women who seem to have complete disregard for social norms and wear clothes that are either too small, offer too little coverage, or simply emphasize the unattractive.
It used to be when I saw those women–you know who I’m talking about–I just wanted to say:
“Oh, honey, no. Just because they make that (almost) in your size doesn’t mean that you should wear it. Bless your heart.”
But now I’m thinking I might just view those women differently. Yes, they are letting it all hang out when I wish they weren’t. But they aren’t faking fitness or physical perfection. They aren’t merely covering their bodies, hiding their sin, as I in my vanity tend to do. They aren’t veiling the fading of the glory.
When I know my sins will find me out, or my overeating will be visible to all, I tend to exert a bit more self-control (Numbers 32:23). And when I know a lot of my flesh is going to be exposed to the sunlight (and the wind and waves), I become very aware of my misdeeds.
The Bible says:
“Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God” (John 3:20-21, NIV).
I realize that overeating is a sin we as Christians take lightly. For me, the overeating is not just an “I like food” issue but rather a “I turn to food when I am stressed (which is too often)” issue. When I arrive at the beach in a bathing suit, my sin is apparent to all, and I know that if I were faced with wearing beach attire every day, I would be very motivated to consistently do something about it. How sad! I should desire to live by the truth, knowing that all my deeds are evident to the God I love, the God I desire to please. (And the God to whom I should be turning in my stress…)
My shallow vanity–even if it leads to cellulite reduction–is still in vain. But if my vanity leads to brokenness and a desire to live, daily, in the light of God, letting it all hang out, not trying to hide my imperfections and sin but rather seeking to live in a manner that pleases my loving Heavenly Father, then my vanity has served a purpose.
God knows what I look like–inside and out, skirted bathing suit or not, shallow vanities or not–and He loves me anyway! Do I love Him enough to live in a manner that pleases Him?