Finding Miss America

Marie is guest posting today from the mission field. For years has quietly spoken truth to women about sexuality, one woman at a time. This year she discovered Awaken-Love and is facilitating video classes to other missionaries.

I was on my way to another house visit in Asia. Temperatures were sweltering over 120 degrees and no one had air conditioning. I was soaked with sweat down to my underclothes, with my hair flat, wet and clinging to my face. Then I heard a desperate cry: “Miss America, wait”.  Images of Miss America in her tiara and evening gown began to flood my mind, and they just did not mesh with the hot, dusty, dirty streets surrounding me. “Miss America, please don’t go.” I turned around, and a lady who must have been following me began running toward me, crying.

There was desperation mixed with sheer determination in her face as she grabbed my arm and pleaded with me to come with her to her home. As I entered her home several minutes later, I found myself surrounded by a group of ladies, their eyes filled with hope that today “Miss America” would tell them about God.

Someone had passed out Bibles to these ladies sometime before. To show respect to the God of this book, they had their husbands hang up shelves next to the family idols they worshipped. Every day they took down their Bible, dusted it off and said “I believe” before replacing it on the shelf. Through a translator with me, I began to explain who God was and how we should worship Him and read His Word, the Bible, every day.

Miss America

I insisted they call me Marie and not “Miss America.” No, you are “Miss America” to us – so beautiful! They touched my skin, stared into my blue eyes for an uncomfortable length of time and marveled at their color. They stroked my hair and declared me beautiful, despite the fact that I was hot, sweaty, stinky and plus-size.

Later that evening I laughed as I reflected on my experience as “Miss America.” Yes, I have a pretty face. And back when I was thin, I considered myself very attractive. But now . . . I am heavier now, and “Miss America” I was definitely not!

Baggage

Today, many years later, I live in another culture, in a village filled with people of shorter stature than me, most of whom are also super skinny. I am as tall or taller than nearly all the men, and I tower over the ladies.

Earlier this year I was taking the Awaken-Love class on-line with another lady. We were on week three and talking about lies, baggage from the past, and body image issues.

I was telling her about a particular lady who takes pleasure remarking on my size every chance she gets. She loves to tell me that I am fat and I should eat less. Sometimes she will grab my stomach and shake it, or she will pinch my arm.

I can take it if this happened once in awhile, but she was taking it to an extreme. Even when I told her to stop she wouldn’t. Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I had had enough and lost my temper. One of my friends saw me losing it and quickly intervened before I could say something I would regret.

That evening I was sobbing in my husband’s arms. He tenderly and lovingly held me in his arms and reassured me that I was beautiful no matter my size. He told me that I had a beautiful heart and a beautiful body. Then he added his famous line, “Why spend so much emotional energy on this? Who cares what other people think.”

Who Do You Believe

He fell asleep quickly. I on the other hand kept analyzing what had happened, and God brought back the memories from my time as “Miss America” in Asia and how lovingly the people stroked my face and hair. They saw my beauty even though I was plus size, stinky and sweaty. And then God began to remind me: “Who do I say you are? How do I see you? Did I call you fat and unattractive? No! You are my beautiful and wonderfully made creation. Why do you believe these lies?”

Good question. Why do I believe these lies? Why do we believe these lies? How can we let fashion magazines, television and films dictate to us what is beautiful? Beauty standards change with time. Look at the 80’s. What were we thinking with all that super fluffy hair? The photos in those magazines are air brushed to remove the flaws and those models don’t wake up looking like that. Why does the media have more clout with us than what God says?

Who Does God Say We Are

God declares in Psalm 139 that He knit us together in our mother’s womb. What a truly beautiful picture! It takes time to knit something, stitch by loving stitch. During the process of knitting, one carefully checks the work, making sure each stitch is perfect. And the same holds true with God. He didn’t slap some DNA together and say “okay, next”. No, He intimately formed and shaped us, taking time to make sure His highest creation was nothing less than perfect!

We are wonderfully and fearfully made. God made us beautiful no matter our size or stature, no matter our age, no matter if we have freckles, wrinkles or a flawless complexion. We are a masterpiece, created by God in His own image and loved for who we truly are. Embracing this truth will not only impact our walk with Him, but release us into a new freedom to love and be loved by our spouse.

The Beauty of Our Vulva

God created women with amazing bodies. Our vaginas stretch large enough to birth a baby and still shrink to hug our husband’s penis. Breasts nurse our babies, provide hours of entertainment for our husband, and are sensitive enough to trigger an orgasm. Our clitoris created solely for our pleasure can provide a lifetime of new and pleasurable experiences. And yet, how many of us really know our vulva? Song of Songs 4:7 says, 

You are altogether beautiful, my darling;
    there is no flaw in you.

Early Messages

Girls and boys have completely different experiences discovering their bodies. When boys learn to go to the bathroom they form a very hands on relationship with their penis. A part of everyday life, their penis can quickly become a best friend. They know what it looks like, what it feels like, how it changes with temperature and what creates pleasure. Their penis, just a familiar part of their body doesn’t feel dirty or scary.

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The Challenges of Seeing Sex as Refreshment

I remember when we had young kids and feeling so exhausted that the last thing I wanted to do was have sex. Sex felt like one more thing on my to do list. It was one more thing that would suck my energy dry, something else to give. The last thing I expected from sex was refreshment.

Yet there were times when my husband would be so patient and would gently take me to that place. Afterwards I thought to myself, “Boy, did I need that.” Somewhere, deep down, I knew that sex was a good thing. That it would refresh me and that it was for me too. But this truth was buried deep beneath a pile of lies.

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Battling Satan’s Lies with God’s Truth

We are in a battle. Satan loves to fill us with lies that render us impotent to growth in marriage, parenting or even ministry. He picks at the broken parts of our soul causing us to feel defective, unlovable and stuck. We either lash out trying to prove ourselves or retreat into hiding. But when we embrace God’s unconditional love, rather than striving to measure up, we can learn from past experiences, conflict or suffering. Instead of shrinking into isolation, shame and believing Satan’s lies, we choose to move forward in confidence. We have the courage to live fully known by sharing our  insecurities, failures, hopes and dreams. But Satan doesn’t stop coming at us with lies. He waits for just the right moment and then he’s right back at it, speaking the same old lies, and trying to make us doubt who we are.

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A New Strategy for Overcoming Gridlock

Women need to feel emotionally connected in order to enjoy sex.

Men need to have sex in order to feel emotionally connected.

It sounds like gridlock to me. Women can’t have sex until they talk, and men can’t talk until they have sex, so they just stop connecting. The gate is put up by the wife, the husband retreats feeling rejected and they spin away from each other. It’s like that age old question, “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” There is no right answer, there is only debate. We need a new strategy. 

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Connecting is a Two Way Street

The other night my husband and I had an awesome time connecting. I had gotten him to open up about a fun scenario that he found particularly enticing, and so naturally my wheels started turning. Really it wasn’t anything that took much planning.  It was just catching hold of the small nuances that would take him back to that place we talked about. You know things like lighting, sleepwear, positions, ATTITUDE…But he knew that I had heard him, and he knew exactly where I was taking him. It was a great night!

Feeling Naked

The next morning I woke up feeling absolutely naked – like the skin had been stripped off of me – naked. It was as if I had been in a show and poured myself out and there was nothing left. It was like when I started teaching my classes on sex, and shared so much of myself, that I felt absolutely vulnerable and attacked afterwards. I was raw.

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The Power of Sharing Initiation

My husband and I figured out the importance of taking turns initiating sex, but it hasn’t always been this way.

Last week I shared a post written several years ago, Different Sex Drives,  about when we struggled because I became the  higher drive spouse. All of a sudden, I had a new  understanding of what my husband had dealt with for years. I wanted to feel desired and wanted. When I always ended up reaching for him before he reached for me, it caused me to question my husband’s love. Initiation makes us feel wanted.

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Different Sex Drives

It wasn’t always this way… in fact it used to be quite the opposite.  I used to be able to shrug off my husbands advances with no regard for his feelings or needs. Surely sex was just this physical urge that would go away if I didn’t encourage him. Surely he could see how tired I was from managing a house, driving kids,  fixing meals, and doing laundry. Sex was not even on my radar until those once or twice a month hormonal urges. My drive got my engine running, and then it was once and done.

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Helping Your Husband Battle Pornography

I am going to be perfectly frank with you, my husband has never struggled with pornography and I have never experienced the pain of betrayal. But because I teach Awaken-Love, I have walked beside a lot of women that have. It breaks my heart to see the pain that pornography causes for these women, but it also breaks my heart to see how pornography has impacted their husband.

God keeps calling me to speak into this arena, I don’t know why.  Maybe it is because I haven’t been personally impacted and so I have a different perspective.  Is it possible that what might be most helpful for a wife to do to help her husband battle pornography is the exact opposite of what every fiber in her body is telling her to do? Read more about How to Create a Safe Place for Your Husband to Share about Porn.

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Create a safe place for your husband to share about Porn

I know this is a crazy idea, but in marriage I think we are supposed to battle pornography together.What we have been doing does not work – men shuffling off to their secret accountability group. Pornography impacts the marriage, whether both spouses know about it or not. When we get married, we vow, “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health.” If my husband is battling something, then I want to battle with him. I want to hold him up, encourage him, speak truth to him, and be there even when he slides backward. The idea that a husband protects his wife by not telling her the truth is a lie. A strong husband has the courage to share everything with his wife – even his brokenness – and he has the courage to help both of them go after their own healing and wholeness.

The couples that I know making real progress battling pornography are battling side by side.

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