A Stretch Marked Soul

stretch-marked soul

A Stretch Marked Soul by Robynn

When I was pregnant with my first child, my beloved grandmother instructed me to get some coconut oil based cream and apply it to my enlarged belly. She claimed, with conviction, that it was a way to prevent stretch marks. I followed her instructions that first pregnancy. To be honest I’m not sure if that particular round of baby-growing produced stretch marks or not. I don’t remember. I do know that in the next two pregnancies I neglected to use the miracle coconut oil goo and I do know that I now boast a delightful map of markings all across my abdomen.

C’est la vie!

Now I’m wondering if there’s a similar preventative ointment to be applied to the soul. Or is there something that can be soothed into the stretched soul retroactively to minimize the lines?

My friend Rachel is a doula. She’s also studying and apprenticing to be a midwife. Several times a week she meets with women whose bodies are morphing, changing, growing. They are stretched–magnificently –to accommodate the most amazing, yet common, miracle: birth! These women are willing to undergo this bizarre bulking in order to participate in the birthing of life. Astounding yet glorious.

The word stretch actually implies resilience. One definition suggests expanding or extending or enlarging as if by physical force. Another definition of the intransitive verb, according to Merriam Webster, says, to become extended in length or breadth or both; to become extended without breaking. As an adjective it means, the ability to revert to original size and shape after being stretched, squeezed and twisted as in stretch fabric that doesn’t wrinkle or sag.

The soul that’s been stretched by personal agony, by family disasters, by community devastations is forcefully extended and consequently exhausted. (Coconut oil doesn’t seep that deep). I am beginning to see that perhaps we have a choice in the outcome of such circumstances. We can choose to be brittle and bitter. We can cross our arms, stamp our feet and refuse to give. We can choose to be unyielding, unresponsive, inelastic, inflexible.  The soul can abort the lessons of loss and tragedy.

Or, and I’m only just now catching glimpses of this, we can choose to stretch. Our souls can give into the pulling and protruding. We can participate in what is being birthed in us. Something must come from the near-breaking misshaping.

What feels like it’s killing us might actually bring life. What seems like death might result later in birth.

The soul can be as pliable as the uterus but it takes time to regain its original shape. And even then it’s never really the same. The stretches produce marks that proclaim the story. They outline the ways we’ve been converted. Our souls are transformed in to deeper and wider vessels to contain more of the Presence, more of the Mystery. We learn and grow and we are ever changed, from glory to glory. Would we want to undo that? We don’t want to be who we were. Our lives, our spirits, our souls are made over by our sorrows, our griefs, our calamities.

Stretch marked souls are souls that have leaned into the Holy Midwife. They’ve worked together to endure for the joy set before them. There is birth, messy and marvelous. There is life, bloodied and born.

Like my grandma, my friend Susanne, has an age-old treatment for my stretch marked soul that she texted me early this morning, “REST. (God) isn’t going anywhere, and you’re actually still going through a huge transition. In time, your new normal will allow routine time with (Jesus) again. For now, just let (Him) minister to your soul in rest and recuperation without you having to “do” something…(unless it’s fun, life-giving and restorative)!”

I’m going to try massaging that in to my spirit for a long while. I suspect I’ll always bear the stretch marks. The Rest Remedy will surely help them fade. But I choose resilience. I choose to cooperate with what’s been going on. The labour has been long and at times arduous but something mysterious is being birthed in me!

Picture Credit: http://unsplash.com/

14 thoughts on “A Stretch Marked Soul

  1. Wow! What perfect timing. We have just returned to our home in NA and I am worn out from the souls stretching of many moves in many cultures over my life time. The Lord has given me Is30:15 for this next season. How incredibly affirming to hear that your friend had the same remedy. “In repentance and rest you will be saved. In quietness and trust is your strength. ”
    Now to live it, by His grace.
    Thank you for sharing. God used your words to minister to me this morning

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  2. One more comment. As I was pondering this beautiful post some more, one of my favorite Sara Groves songs came to mind. “Something Changed” speaks so beautifully of the change and growth that is birthed out of a time of stretching. Here are the lyrics, as well as a link to a music video. (This song was featured in a movie called The Ultimate Gift some years ago…great movie!) http://youtu.be/EcqFZV8UJMs

    SOMETHING CHANGED by Sara Groves

    Something changed inside me
    Broke wide open, all spilled out
    Till I had no doubt
    That something changed

    Never would have believed it
    Till I felt it in my own heart
    In the deepest part
    The healing came

    And I cannot make it
    And I cannot fake it
    And I can’t afford it
    But it’s mine

    Something so amazing
    In a heart so dark and dim
    When the walls fall down
    And the light comes in

    And I cannot make it
    And I cannot fake it
    And I can’t afford it
    But it’s mine

    Oh, thank You, Lord
    Thank You, Lord, thank You, Lord

    Leave it like a skin upon the ground

    Something changed inside me
    Broke wide open, all spilled out
    Till I had no doubt
    That something changed

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    1. Thanx for sharing the song lyrics! This article was wonderfully apropos today~I know I just need to rest and heal for now…Battling severe depression. Praying that the Transcranial Magnetic Therapy I’m having for 6 wks will make a major difference, as I’ve had multiple med failures, and switching to the generic of Cymbalta, the only one that helped, made things worse…plus the seasonal depression is kicking in…feeling rather discouraged. Thanx for the encouraging message!

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  3. “The stretches produce marks that proclaim the story.” I LOVE that…thank you. I also have an extensively road-marked abdomen! But I would never wish those marks away. They tell the story…the story of “stretching” pregnancies that resulted in the births of 4 precious babies. And so it is with spiritual “stretching.” God has allowed and walked with me through some very difficult times…circumstances I would never want to relive. But I would never wish those memories away, or want to erase those circumstances from my “story.” The God-given peace, strengthened trust, and affirmation of God’s faithfulness that were born out of those circumstances are far too precious.

    Blessings on you, Marilyn. Thank you for inviting us along on your journey. Looking forward to hearing what God is “birthing” in you right now.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your heart here. I’ve never thought about the strengthening that comes through stretching. I’m grateful for that.

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  4. Tired souls unite! I am so happy to have found this site…….a gathering where one can rest for a time and feel surrounded by others who understand. In light of all that is going on everywhere in the world these days your words Robynn, “I choose resilience”, are perfect. Thank you for giving all of us your Fridays.

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  5. A friend who is suffering through some major stress in her life and family shared this post with me. WOW!! What a great perspective for when we are in the labor pains of stress and emotional pain!!

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    1. Me as well Jody. Have thought of you so so much these past weeks with your new job and Ferguson. Sorry I haven’t reached out. Have had a tired soul myself so backed off a bit. Love to you.

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    2. You know what’s funny? This is exactly what I needed this morning too. This has been a long week. Yesterday was particularly painful. Last night I thought my heart would break. I needed this again this morning.
      I’m sorry for your sleepless angst. May you find peace and rest this day. Marilyn, I’m aching for your tired soul too. May you find new hope and energy today.

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