“Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.”
Proverbs 31:30, NLT
There are posts you hesitate to share. Because they are personal. Because they may set you up for being judged. Because they may make you sound shallow. But then you stop and think, “I cannot be the only one who battles this. How can I not share where I am finding help and hope?”
So here it goes…
My heart has been struggling lately. Teetering towards freak out mode more often than I would care to admit. Why?
Because they are everywhere.
They meaning the women who are younger than me. The women who are more fit than me. The women with waaaaaay bigger breasts than me who aren’t afraid to show them. To. The. Entire. World.
They are on the TV. They are on the computer. They are on billboards. They are on magazines.
They are everywhere.
The enemy and my insecure heart are right there, too, whispering in my ear, “Wow. Look at her. I bet your husband wishes you looked like her. I bet he wishes he had married a woman with a body like that. I bet he regrets that you are all he has to lay down with at night.” You know, because that is all I am worth. And that is all the other women are worth, right? What our bodies look like. What our pants sizes are. What our bra sizes are. That’s all we have to offer the world, right? Our bodies? (Ummmm…wrong.)
And I know the bra hang up does make me sound shallow. But when you have had family members, coworkers, and even a boyfriend make comments (some straight to your face and others thinking you wouldn’t overhear) during your growing up years about your great lack in that area…well, a girl develops a bit of a complex. I mean, obviously it MUST matter since so many people felt the need to point it out.
Enter in looming (and sometimes landing) freak out mode. Not only is my bra size pretty unimpressive by worldly standards but NOW I am getting older too. Older, wrinklier, and squishier. Great. Just fantastic. (Of course, the more “me” I acquire as I get older, the more the bra size goes up. Not quite sure about that trade-off. Sigh.)
And this – this has always been a place of deep, deep insecurity for me. It is a place where I have to turn to the Father for truth. Because my worth? It isn’t found in any number associated with my body. Not the number on my scale. Not the number in my blue jeans. Not the number on my bra. Not even the number that tells just how old this body is.
My ultimate worth is found in a different set of numbers – as in 33 years spent in humble earthbound service instead of on a rightful heavenly throne. It is found in 3 nails piercing willing hands and feet and 6 excruciating hours spent hanging on a cross. The numbers associated with Jesus, who said I was worth dying for, are the only numbers that count. And while the numbers associated with my body will always fluctuate, those numbers connected to Jesus will never change. My worth is secure and Rock-solid in Him.
So I am having to remind myself of my true worth and what it is my husband really does and doesn’t need.
First, what he doesn’t need:
He doesn’t need a wife who wears a more impressive bra size. Seriously. Would he probably be okay if they were bigger? I am sure he wouldn’t be upset. But that would be a want, not a need. And for the record, my sweet man has never complained or commented once. He is so good to tell me how beautiful he finds me – from head to toe. This is about me having to learn that the sum total of my worth and beauty as a wife is not found in mammary glands – no matter how much my heart and the world has told me differently.
He doesn’t need my skin to be wrinkle-free. “I love you” sounds the same coming from a mouth surrounded by some extra lines. And you know what, it may sound even sweeter, because then it is a love that has endured the test of time.
My husband doesn’t need me to fit into skinny jeans. I won’t even dive deep into that subject. I have already written about those stupid jeans here. Do I need to take care of myself so I can have a long, healthy life with him and so I can present him with my best? Absolutely. But “healthy” for me is never gonna land this girl on a runway. Or a magazine cover. True story.
So what is it that he does need?
Here is what I have on my list so far, a list I am asking the Father to add to daily:
He needs a wife who loves, honors and respects him. Letting my words and my actions speak love, speak honor, speak respect. This means I will need to meditate on the things I love and appreciate about him instead of constantly making lists of hurts, offenses, and all the things I think he does wrong. This means guarding my thought-life about my husband because if I dishonor and disrespect him in my heart and in my head, I am going to end up dishonoring and disrespecting him with my words and my actions. I love 1 Corinthians 13:7 in The Message translation – love “trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end.”
He needs a praying wife. Praying for his health, praying for his safety, praying for his walk with the Lord, praying for him as he works, praying for him as a husband and a father, and yes, praying for him as he faces the bombarding images of other women. The enemy fights dirty and, as a wise wife, I need to pray for my husband. Not because I assume the worst but because I remember that the enemy is after me, after my husband, and after my marriage. Praying protection and wisdom for us both. Praying verses like Job 31:1, James 4:7, Romans 12:9, 1 Corinthians 10:13, 1 Peter 5:8-9 and Proverbs 5:15-19. Praying His Word is powerful – that’s why I have links for all of the verses in this post. So you can pray the ones that speak to your heart today too.
He needs a wife with a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:3-4). A wife who is able to “be still” and know that God is God (Psalm 46:10). I don’t need to fret about my body. I don’t need to freak out that he might notice that other woman. God’s Word tells me that fretting only causes harm. And that is so true. When I am all in a tizzy over my looks and over what other women look like, I am unhappy. I am moody. I am upset by the most ridiculous and unrelated things. A heart at rest in the Lord is so much more attractive than the one in continual freak out mode. The words found in Philippians 4:6-7 have become some of my go-to verses when I start feeling a little crazy instead of quiet.
He needs a humble wife – one who readily admits she isn’t perfect and continually lays her own heart before the Lord for inspection and correction (Psalm 139:23-24, Psalm 19:12-14). A wife willing to let God work on her issues instead of constantly finger-pointing at her man (Matthew 7:3-5).
He needs me to be his best friend – to laugh with him, to hang out with him, to pay attention to what makes him feel loved and special. He needs me to be on his team. To be his biggest fan. And when I feel upset with him or hurt by him, to take it to the Lord, asking Him to help me love him in those tough moments like God does – with a love like I mentioned earlier. A love that hopes all things and believes all things. A love that forgives and works to move forward (1 Corinthians 13:7, Ephesians 4:32). Oh, and this friendship? It is the kind that actually should come with benefits, if you catch my drift. Intimacy is not only legal in marriage, it is to be enjoyed in marriage.
And ultimately, he needs a wife who fears God. Not a “shaking in some corner in terror” kind of fear. No. I mean a woman who reverences her God. A woman who knows doing life and marriage God’s way is the best way. A woman who releases control to her Father and takes Him at His Word. Because I am not going to get any younger. My physical beauty is going to fade in many ways. But if I stay in right relationship with God, if I press in ever closer to Him, if I choose to live by His ways and His Word, my inner beauty? It is going to grow exponentially.
And you know what?
I can do all of those things he needs no matter what my body shape or size.
Listen, I am no marriage counselor. I am not saying I have all of the answers. I am also not saying I am good at all of this yet. I am simply a struggling woman approaching middle age trying to fix her heart on truth. There are still days I long to be physically beautiful by the world’s standards. I have cried very real tears about all of this. But if magazine-worthy outer beauty was able to sustain a marriage, then Hollywood would be the one place without divorce and infidelity. (Which it definitely isn’t.) A seemingly perfect body is not the key to a thriving marriage.
I love my husband. He is an incredible man. And my heart’s desire? It is to be a woman he thanks God for more and more as I get older – no matter what is sagging, no matter what is wrinkling, no matter how little I fill up the top portion of a dress. I want to be a gift in his life. I want my worth settled in my heart, because there will always be women who are younger and more attractive than I am. I want to be a wife filled with joy, less prone to freak out and more secure in who she is in Christ.
If you are struggling with your physical appearance today, too, know that I am praying for you. You have been fearfully and wonderfully made. And what you have to offer the world isn’t your body. You are a beautiful daughter of the King, created in His image. You were designed on purpose and with purpose. You are chosen, accepted, and dearly loved (Ephesians 1:3-8). You are a precious vessel carrying Jesus – to your husband, to your family, to the world. (And these things are true even if your marriage is in shambles or if your heart is still longing for someone to pop the question. Our worth also isn’t found in whether or not we have a husband.)
Today, let’s press in close to the Father – the One who loves us without fail, the One who will never leave us or forsake us, the One who does not judge us by our outsides. Let’s rest fully in His love and let the beauty of a heart at rest in Him flow freely from our lives. Is that always an easy thing to do? No. But it will make all the difference in our lives and the lives we come in contact with when we choose to daily redirect our hearts to truth.
Love you all,