What Prayer and Swimsuits Have in Common by Jeanne Damoff for The Consilium

Swimsuit season is around the corner.

Maybe that’s not the opening sentence you’d expect in a blog post about prayer — though wouldn’t it be nice if confessing those extra pounds could remove them as far as the east is from the west? Yeah. Not happening.

As I was saying, swimsuit season is around the corner. And for many of us, that means we become even more acutely aware of our perceived bodily imperfections. No matter how flattering the style of our swimwear, we still feel exposed (because we are) and self-conscious. Every flaw is magnified and our assets (if we even believe we have any) obscured.

I don’t have to tell you that our culture is a cruel taskmaster, and the older you get, the harder it is to keep step. If we believe the headlines on the magazines in the grocery store check-out line, every woman should be thin, young-looking, rich, powerful, in charge of her life, pretty, fashionable, well-educated, independent, sexy, sexually uninhibited, economically productive, athletic, confident, assertive, and free to pursue her dreams no matter what they are.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that all these things are inherently bad. But I am saying any of them can become a distraction or, worse yet, an idol. If we’re motivated by culturally dictated lifestyle goals, we’ll never be enough, and we’ll never discover the wonder and contentment found only in the identity Christ purchased for us.

We need to recognize that our culture is selling us lies.

Even though many of these things are not necessarily sinful, none of them will bring peace, satisfaction, or purpose. And none of them indicate God’s favor. We need to stop listening to our culture’s definition of life and start listening to God’s. For some of us, this may mean unsubscribing to magazines, turning off the TV, or walking away from the computer screen. The answer won’t be the same for everyone because the primary issue is our heart. Freedom for all of us is found in the truth.

And what is the truth? That’s the best news!

Keeping in mind what our culture says we should be, consider what God has said about us:

We are created in His image, covered by the shadow of His wing, held in the palm of His hand, fearfully and wonderfully made, created for His pleasure and glory, chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, taught by the Holy Spirit, known, protected, shielded, shepherded, disciplined as beloved children, grafted into the vine, loved, cherished, set apart, adopted, His workmanship created for good works that He has foreordained for us to walk in.

We are His body, His ambassadors, the light of the world — a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden (even behind the blousiest swimsuit cover). We have this treasure — the beautiful love and life of Christ — in clay jars. Some of our jars may be a little lumpy and some may be slightly cracked, but the jar isn’t the point. The living water that flows out of it is.

So, here’s my swimsuit season challenge to all of us: Pray without ceasing.

That means we’ll have to walk away from the mirror and forget what we look like — refuse to hide behind self-consciousness, and shift our focus to all the people around us. We really can go through this season (and every season) with our eyes wide open, choosing to see rather than worrying about being seen.

At the pool, on vacation, in our own neighborhoods. At work, with family, out running errands. Let us be vessels of prayer, available to the Holy Spirit to be filled with intercession, thanksgiving, wisdom, grace, comfort, and encouragement. Let’s be present with all our senses, our spirits awake to the aches that lurk behind the other person’s flattering one-piece, expensive shades, and sprayed-on tan. She’s actually dying to be seen.

Swimsuit season is around the corner. And you know what, sister? Your heart looks amazing. Don’t hide it.

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Jeanne Damoff is a writer and speaker, serves with local refugee and special needs ministries, and loves to help people find beauty and purpose even in their most broken places. She endeavors to be present in every moment, to see God’s image in every person, and to discover His gifts everywhere. Jeanne is grateful to be a wife, mom, mother-in-law, grandmother, and friend. She blogs at The View From Here.

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