Guest post by Jamie Tanner
An old friend “waved” at me from FB messenger last week. I didn’t even know the app could do that. I “waved” back, surprised that this particular friend was messaging. She was a friend from my past. We had gone to Basic Training and AIT together. We had competed with and against each other during our Army Medic Combat training, forging a friendship based literally on blood, sweat, and tears and the good old Red, White, and Blue.
But that was long ago. Before deployments, before children...before 40 additional lbs. I am no longer a soldier. I traded my G.I. Joe for Suzy Homemaker over 10 years ago and never regretted it.
As I reflect on how far I’ve come, I linger on what used to be.
I used to be in shape…
I used to be size __…
I used to weigh ___…
I used to be…different…
Truth be told, I marvel at how different I really am. My friend knew someone who, in many ways, no longer exists.
People are like that: constantly changing but still remaining same.
In Jeremiah 18, God instructs the prophet Jeremiah to go down to the potter’s house for a lesson. Jeremiah recounts:
Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. 4 But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. 5 Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, 6 “Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.
Like the clay, like the house of Israel, I am nothing more than clay in the Potter’s hands. At one time I was one shape, but I was “remade into another vessel, as it pleased the Potter to make.”
When my friend knew me, I was a glorious athletic vase of sorts. My body was the image of a soldier. It needed to be for that season. I needed to ruck 40lbs on my back for 20 miles in boots. I needed to run and low crawl under barbed wire with my M16 rifle. I needed those biceps, abs, and legs to accomplish the mission and tasks set before me.
Having children spoiled the athletic vessel. That wasn’t easy. I had come to find my identity in the image of a soldier. I took pride in my 6 pack and 14 minute 2 mile run time. Having children transformed a glorious athletic vase to a big round fruit bowl...with big, juicy melons.
Because I had built my identity in my role as a soldier, I went through a mini identity crisis. My identity was in my role. My identity reflected the role and not the God.
God, Elohiym, created us in His image. Genesis 1:27 tells us that “ God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Made in His image means we are built to reflect Him. What does that actually look like? I can guarantee it does not mean an identity in temporal things. Reflecting the Triune God means placing our identity in eternity. It means viewing ourselves with His eyes.
We are clay people. Glorious clay.
My children are older, and I remain the shape of a fruit bowl...but the melons have retreated to the size of nectarines.
With summer in full swing, naturally I recoil at the thought of public swimming. But why? Why does it matter that I am a fruit bowl? Why do I still condemn myself for no longer being a vase?
Truth is, I have spent the last several years trying to be a vase again. Diet and exercise alone are not delivering the external results I want. So, I am learning to give myself grace. I eat healthy and get my 10,000 steps. Rather than scold myself for extra padding, I get off my back and thank God for a body that works. Because I am really His clay after all. He can change and reshape me to suit His purposes according to His will. If I cannot be a vase, then I want to be one hell of a fruit bowl.
Jamie Tanner is joining The Marcella Project team as an intern this year. She is a mother of four, a farmer and a Dallas Theological Seminary student.
If you also desire the grace to live a life that includes all of who you are, then check out Jackie's recent post on Hearing What God Is Saying Through His Women.