a love letter to my body.

{This post is part of the inspired SheLoves Magazine synchroblog. Write your own love letter to your own body and then link it to SheLoves.} Dear body,

I'm not really sure when things between us went awry. Probably around age ten when our honeymoon phase unexpectedly ended. Up until that point I was head over heels for you, cartwheeling in the grass and wearing swimsuits without hesitation. I was proud of you. Perhaps even too proud at times.

I know this rift between us is my fault. I know I'm the one who stopped appreciating you. You, who never once stopped loving me. I don't even know where to begin. With an apology? A new promise? A heartfelt "I love you"?

Yes, let's start there. I love you, body. I really, truly do.

I'm sorry for taking you for granted, for not recognizing your worth and value despite your countless attempts to show me just how capable you are. I'm sorry for analyzing you in the mirror and scoffing at your imperfections, examining every flaw up close and hating you for them. I'm sorry for all the wishing--the wishing for a flatter tummy and bigger boobs and slimmer thighs and a smaller nose. I'm sorry for putting pressure on you to become something that you aren't, for holding you to impossible standards, and for constantly comparing you to others. I'm sorry for not being aware of, and grateful for, your beauty.

Because you are beautiful. And to ignore that is to insult my Creator, who created you in the likeness of Him. You, body, just like me, are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Today I want to thank you. Thank you for my legs, dimples and all, and my ability to walk, skip, jump, climb, jog, run, and most importantly--dance. I love to move and I could not move without you. Thank you for my arms, these strong arms, that allow me to embrace others warmly and hold my sweet baby every day. Thank you for a mouth that can kiss passionately and eyes that can stare into the souls of others. Thank you for ears that can hear the wind blow, my baby's coo, and the chorus of voices sweetly singing at church on Sunday morning. Thank you for my skin; for the moles I've inherited, the wrinkles I've developed from smiling often, and the stretch marks and scar I've received after giving birth to my baby boy.

Speaking of which, I don't know how I'll ever thank you for growing a healthy, perfect, beautiful baby boy. I don't know how to express gratitude for carrying me through nine months of pregnancy and stretching so big and cutting open so nicely and healing together just fine. You are amazing. God designed you to do that but I still have no idea how it's possible. You sustained life inside of me---perfect, whole life that is half me and half my husband. And to think that during that time, if I'm being honest, I probably despised you the most. I diligently rubbed cocoa butter on you every single day, desperate, so desperate, to make it look as though you had never stretched at all. I cried sometimes when you didn't fit into the clothes that I wanted to wear. I tried my best to appear confident but you know deep down, as well as I do, that I didn't feel that way most of the time. And now, as I hold this baby in my arms, my baby, I cannot apologize enough for not loving you the way that you deserved to be loved during that time.

Now, in this very moment, you look more different than you've ever looked. You're wider and softer, yet also stronger and more capable than you've ever been. You are beautiful, and I'm sorry for not appreciating you like I once did. I'm in awe of you, and in awe of the way that God perfectly designed you.

Today, if you'll have me, I want to renew our vows. I want us to get back to the place we once were, where our love was strong, secure, and carefree. These are my vows to you;

Body, I vow not to take you for granted. I vow to treat you as the temple that you are and to fill you up with real food and lots of water. Likewise, I vow to not withhold you from things that you've come to love like dark chocolate and frozen yogurt. I promise to take care of you and to not let apathy or laziness interfere with your ability to walk, skip, jump, climb, jog, run, and most importantly--dance. Yes, I promise to dance more often.

Body, I vow to look at you in the mirror with adoration and gratefulness and nothing less. I vow to tell you that you're beautiful more often and to believe others when they say it too. I promise not to hide from swimsuits, or lingerie, or to have any more tantrums in the closet. Rest assured, my husband will hold me accountable for all three.

And finally body, I vow to do everything within my control to keep you working properly as long as possible. I want you to play with your children, and your children's children, and maybe their children's children. I want you to travel, to see this magnificent world that God has created for you to enjoy. I want these legs to walk through places like Paris and Italy, and maybe even run a half marathon someday. I want this belly to carry more babies, these arms to embrace more people, and these lips to speak more words of truth into those who need it most.

We can do all of these things together, I'm sure of it.

I love you body. I really, truly do.