“All these were the descendants of Abraham through his concubine Keturah.” 1 Chronicles 1:33
OK, first of all, raise your hands, who knew that Abraham had a concubine that bore him SIX SONS? Hagar the handmaiden gave him one son, Ishmael. Sarah his wife gave him Isaac in his old age, but then after she died at the ripe old age of 127, Abraham married Keturah and he had six more sons. (Genesis 25)
In this week’s reading for our summer study of Beth Moore’s So Long, Insecurity You’ve Been a Bad Friend to Us,* we read Chapter 6: A Cocktail of Ego and Culture. Beth starts out by talking about how our foremothers had it easier when it came to a cultural standard of comparison for women. With no TV, internet, Twitter, Google or smart phones, the number of women you were able to compare yourself against was dramatically less than it is today. Yet, as God would have it my Word of the Day would just *happen* to be a long list of genealogies that included the concubines.
Can you imagine living in a culture where your soul purpose in life is to have sex with the man of the house? You don’t even have the honor, status or privilege of being his wife, just his mistress. That was your only value. Sad. Furthermore, can you imagine being the wife of the house in constant competition for your husband’s attention? Actually, that last one isn’t as far-fetched as you would think, sadly. We today have that exact same problem, only the women we compete with aren’t women in our household, they’re on the TV, and the internet and… on our husband’s phones. While we are forced to live in the confines of a flesh and blood body with its aging skin and graying hair, those airbrushed bits of hair colored, lyposuctioned perfection can appear on our husband’s phones at a moment’s notice to scratch whatever is itching them. It’s sickening and maddening all at the same time. Sarah had Hagar to compete with. Rachel had Leah. And Leah had Rachel. But we have THOUSANDS of them! In a culture where sex sells us “ordinary” women struggle with insecurity like the Hatfield’s struggled with the McCoy’s!
The other day I had a revelation. I am in that place I feared as a teenager. I vividly remember, sitting with my then boyfriend, now husband, asking him if he would still love me if I got fat. At that point I wasn’t even a hundred pounds soaking wet. And I KNEW it wouldn’t last. There was this one time I drove down to see him at college and when I met one of his friends he put his hands in a circle around my waist and said, “See I told you! My fingers are touching!” He was so proud of how small I was, and it scared me. I was afraid that he only loved me for my body, a body that would age and change and would NEVER be that small again – nor should it be.
There were many conversations where I would revisit and re-ask him the questions that plagued me the most.
“Would you still love me if I were fat?”
“Of course I would.”
“Would you still love me if my hair was all gray?”
“Mmmm… but would you still be attracted to me if I was fat?”
Silence….. and then a drawn out, unsure “sure” would escape his lips.
Deep in the gut of every skinny beautiful young girl is a fear of losing her attractiveness. Why? I’m not exactly sure, but I’m pretty sure it has to do with a) the intense emphasis our culture puts on outward beauty and b) because that beauty has the ability to attract a mate that will provide for our needs. Losing that beauty puts us at risk of losing the security of a provider of those needs. And all too often, that’s exactly what happens. As the inward beauty grows by leaps and bounds with age and wisdom, our societies definition of outward beauty fades with time and the husband who once loved us with an undying love, leaves us for someone younger and with fewer wrinkles. It’s a scenario that happens often enough that even the most secure woman struggles with the fear of losing the man she loves for someone prettier. But for those of us that struggle with insecurity, it’s the nightmare to end all nightmares; especially when the prettier woman is a smart phone and a bathroom away. We simply can’t compete with that!
Or can we?
Sure we can go to the gym more often or survive on salads for months on end, but is that competing, or just playing an unfair game and still coming in second? There’s got to be a way to win this war. There’s got to be a way to help our husbands choose us, rather than the porno model.
The only thing I can come up with is to PRAY! First of all to pray for ourselves and each other, that we would see OURSELVES as beautiful and desirable and able to satisfy our husband’s visual needs, no matter what size we are! One of the sexiest things on a woman is her confidence in herself! May we wear it with pride. (Having trouble seeing your beauty like I am at the moment, read this excerpt from our book True Intimacy, it should help.) Next, pray for him! Pray that God would help him keep his eyes pure, and that he wouldn’t be tempted by those younger women, or the porno women, or the TV women at all! Ask the Holy Spirit to help him win the battle against our sex driven society, and with God’s help I think we CAN compete with them AND WIN! After all, if God is for us then who can be against us? And I know for a fact that God is definitely for keeping husbands and wives together in monogamous marriages! So we’ve already got God on our side!
Lord, help us! Help us to see ourselves as the most beautiful women that You created. Help us to see our True beauty and not just our flaws. In fact, Lord, please help us to change our thinking about those things we think are flaws. Help us to come to grips with the fact that they’re not flaws at all, but rather assets to use for our benefit in the fight against the Enemy. Lord, help us to see ourselves the way You see us, beautiful and glorious within. Help us to see ourselves the way our husbands really DO see us, and not the way Satan wants us to THINK our husband’s see us. Help us to recognize when the Enemy is whispering lies into our ears and help us to tell him to BACK OFF in Jesus’ name. Help us to recognize when we’re spending too much time comparing our looks to others and to back away from the judgment chair when we’re judging ourselves too harshly. Please help us to rely less on our looks, no matter what age we are, and lean instead on our brains! We ARE smart women! Help us to remember that. We’ve chosen you and that’s the smartest choice any woman can make! Help us to work smarter not harder and to focus less on society’s definition of beauty and concentrate instead on Your definition. And Lord, I lift up all the men out there, married and unmarried alike. I ask that You would blind their eyes to the rubbish and open their eyes to the priceless gem they married, or will marry. Lord I pray that you would give them eyes for their wives ALONE. I pray that they would guard their eyes like the windows to the soul that they are. Lord I pray that you would lead them not into temptation, but that You would deliver them from evil! Help them to keep their feet, and everything else that goes with them, on the straight and narrow path. Lord, we lift our husbands to You, help them to desire ONLY us. Help us to be their dream woman and help us to see the dream guy in them. It’s there Lord, it’s always been there, but sometimes that dreaminess gets covered up with baby diapers, sleepless nights, and bills. Help us to push life out of the way and to see our life-partner in a re-newed light of Your glory. Help us to see them and remember the person we fell in love with. Help us to see that person that is still in there, though changed through the years like a seed grows into a tree. Help us to see the beauty of that MATURE tree and to love it more than we ever loved that sapling. 😀 You are awesome God, and I know that in all these things You will work Your glory and favor in our midst and make our mediocre marriages marvelous! And that is what we ask for Lord, for marvelous marriages that last a lifetime and leave a legacy of passionate love and intimacy behind for our children and our children’s children’s children for a thousand generations and beyond. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
* Moore, Beth. So Long, Insecurity You’ve Been a Bad Friend to Us. 2010. Tyndale House Publishers.