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The Book Thief
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
On Gold Mountain
Bread & Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter
City of Tranquil Light: A Novel
The Distant Land of My Father
The Paris Wife
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
Fall of Giants
World Without End
A Stolen Life
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption
The Pillars of the Earth
Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation
The Road
Trials of the Earth: The Autobiography of Mary Hamilton
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal
Cutting for Stone

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« mercy in action | Main | have mercy »


I stood in front of the mirror in the bathroom pulling my hair back into a pony tail. With my arms in the air and no sleeves, I saw my arms. This thought split my brain in two like a strike of lightning. “Fat arms.” 

And as insanity would have it, I answered myself. With sadness. Appropriate sadness. I thought, “These arms have held your babies. These arms have given love to your husband. These arms have baked when friends are hurting. These arms have fought for truth, wholeness, healing. These arms have raised up to heaven and not remained slack for lack of praise.”

I inherited these arms from my mother and grandmother. Their arms have been shelter for me. I have never, never thought of their arms as “fat.” In fact, we frequently heard from my mother, “come get under my wing.” She would put her arms around us and shelter us albeit temporarily from the world.

I adored my maternal grandmother, Zelda Bernice Williams Morgan. Her name means Woman Warrior Brings Victory. This unlikely warrior’s arms provided me a place of security in my childhood. I remember standing beside her in church listening as she sang the songs of our faith. Her high, nearly shrill, voice sang out loud uninhibited by lacking talent. 

This place beside her – with her strong arm holding that hymnal – reserved me in the halls of her faith. Now I know that children grow up to make decisions for themselves about faith. I did not ride in on her proverbial coattails. But they were loving and promising and invited me in… the breeze from her own entry almost swept me into the Presence.

Today I sat with a group of women. I shared honestly about my struggle to see my body and myself accurately and to value myself. I told them about this very term “fat” and how I degraded myself with it. Tears honored the violation. We are learning how to re-write our negative self-talk. 

When I think too highly of myself, I am worshiping myself. And when I degrade myself, I am still guilty of placing a standard of perfection on me. In other words, I want to be like a god. The accurate view places me as the apple of God’s eye as His creation who reflects Him. It also places me at the foot of the cross. I cannot save myself from myself or from my sin and the impending death that ensues. Jesus paid the price for me to be free. Free to see myself accurately. Free to enjoy relationship with God as His daughter. 

Peter tells us, “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness (condition acceptable to God); by His wounds you have been healed.”

Bore means to carry. In his arms, Jesus carried my sin. I enjoy a condition acceptable to the Father because of this eternal work. And the Old Testament reminds me that the Father carries me. 

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you! Isaiah 46:4

I am willfully removing that phrase “fat arms” from my vocabulary. It doesn’t make my arms skinny. But it makes me reflect more accurately the dignity my Lord has imparted me. I want to honor my arms with an image of me holding my babies. I remember how I was held. I trust that the Lord will hold me.

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