This is one of those posts where I’ve still got so many issues that I wonder if I should be writing it in the first place (possibly passing on my corrupted thoughts to all of you?). Body image and I have a long and gnarly history. (See the first post of this series, A Body Good: Naked Truth about Body Image…and this one.) I still wrestle with it in real-time, so consider this a post of someone thinking out loud.
In my recent conversations with Western women, I’m getting the idea that I’m sadly far from alone. Body image certainly influences our confidence. The way we spend our time. Our sexuality and marriages.
Over your latte, I saw the concern in your eyes. I know this isn’t who you want to be; that you’re afraid of your own heart. But I know longing runs deep.
If only “I do” meant our eyes–or especially our spouse’s eyes, right?–never swiveled from our mate’s. But reality is, though marriage helps keep our attraction in one place, it doesn’t flip that switch for us.
The power of shame continues to make my mind fizz. (Yours might, too: This post on shame in parenting has drawn more readers than any other post on this site, bar none.)
But now all those thoughts are bubbling over what shame might look like in a marriage; in our most intimate concentric circle of community. See, I know shame—this idea that I’m not worthy of connecting with someone—immediately leads me to cover up.
Take the typical fight with a spouse. First reaction is not typically, You’re so right. I’m snippy, and I have a profound case of PMS. It’s more along the lines of blame-shifting (Well, if you’d stop overreacting like some kind of hypersensitive Pomeranian). Denying (I didn’t say you were arrogant! I said you were cocky). Hiding (If I don’t say anything, it will look a lot like peace and taking the higher road).
Joking aside—this predilection to hiding means the manifestations of shame are endless. For me, it led to a profound insecurity (you can read how that affected our relationship); to people-pleasing ad nauseam, to the extent of a near eating disorder.
If you’re thinking of Goose and Mav, you’re getting my idea. How can we be our spouse’s “intimate ally”*? Get this: The word God used to describe Eve in the Bible (ezer) translated as helper—is most often used in the Bible as either as a term for a military ally…or for God Himself, helping us. Here are a few practical ideas—for husbands and wives–to act as your mate’s shield, advocate, and protector. (Like this? Be sure to check out 50 Ways to Inspire Your Wife and 50 Ways to Inspire Your Husband.)
I was brushing my teeth that night in my PJ’s, mulling over the day, when I had one of those moments–y’know, where God just tugs my chin upward a bit, lets me peek in a bit to what’s solid: to what He’s really doing in all these mundane days that slip by, another X on the calendar.
I walked to the bed, sat down next to my husband, suddenly overcome. It was late; we’d just had a struggling friend over, and my husband had spent hours in conversation seeking out practical solutions with her.
I recalled how my day had begun. A close Ugandan friend had lost a family member in the night—one of three family members he’d paid for to go to the hospital this week. I spotted him the loan for transportation to his village, for the goat he was expected by tradition to provide. But it was my husband later who texted him, telling him it wasn’t a loan, but a gift.
My husband went to work, faithful to his role in management. He came home and loved on his kids, tickling my son before all of us sat down to dinner with our guest. As I type this post, he’s at a friend’s house who was robbed just a few hours ago. (I guess you could say it’s shaping up to be a rough week.)
Really glad you're here. Welcome to a lingering conversation--about a head-turning, undeserved kindness that's turned my life on its head. This site's about Jesus in a pair of well-worn Levi's: faith walking around in our sneakers, scuffing up against real life and real people.
I hope you'll find some questions worth asking, conversations worth engaging, compassion that's compelling, and practical ideas to knead genuine love into relationships. (...With a side of slightly irreverent humor.)
After five and a half years in Uganda, my family and I have recently returned to the U.S., where we continue to work on behalf of the poor. I write and love on my family from Colorado.