I'm still plugging away, magazine free. Twelve days of not allowing myself to focus on what celebrity got her body back, how she lost the weight, how she toned up, or how she looks in a bikini. Here's the truth: I'm somewhat happy for her - whoever she is. I'm happy she feels confident in her body. If I were to write a post about how morally disgusting it is that celebrities flaunt their rock hard bodies, what I would really be saying is, "I'm pissed that she has that body and I have this body." I'm not super interested in a post on modesty at this point, because modesty begins in the heart. Modesty isn't a physical issue, it's a spiritual one. Shaming people because we don't like their outfit choices, or their practically nude photos isn't going to do much for either of us. We just end up with a soul deep chasm that becomes impossible to cross.
We forget that we are talking about real life women, with insecurities, wounds, brokenness and despair. I am not at all a proponent of nudity for all the world to see. There was a time when a glimpse of a scantily clad woman would send me into an internal, raging firestorm. My marriage has been fragmented by the presence of all levels of pornography in the world. I get that it is a big problem, and that it is growing. I'm just tired of using shame to get what I want.
When I was pregnant with Judah my marriage was at its worst. I was living my life trying to scramble over the walls of Joe's addiction and throwing myself on Jesus when Joe would brush me off like dust from his jacket. I was living in a deep valley of despair and my body was changing. That was when my body hatred began. That season was the very first time I called myself Leah.
One day, when I was about eight months pregnant, Joe and I were watching TV on the couch. Our apartment was super tiny and the couch lined up perfectly with the window by the front door. I watched my husband as he watched our upstairs neighbor climb the stairs outside our window. Her perfect legs climbed slowly - it seemed like an hour of heartbreak. My heart was withering. I sat, ballooned and on bed rest, hating every square inch of my body - certain that who I was as a human being was being swallowed by the thick ugly of his disease. This was one of a million moments spent losing myself while he forged ahead, sick and broken. Lets be honest about something: if you have lived this kind of sorrow, you hear a lot of people tell you "It's not about YOU. This is HIS issue." And you get it. Yep. YOU don't sit up at night on the computer. YOU don't push away emotional and physical intimacy because you're so burned out on your drug. YOU don't treat him like an inconvenient, invisible pile of clothes on the floor. But you are married to him. You are suffering and alone. Somewhere in your reasoning you know that you know that it is somehow about YOU. It was years before I was finally able to see that this was truly an addiction - the kind that takes place deep in his mind and heart - and really had absolutely nothing to do with me. At all.
If I could tell you the stories Joe has told me about the men he has worked with, you might be nauseous. Nude to semi nude images are available to men in the strangest of ways. Its everywhere, in small corners and in obvious ones. We are living in a culture that not only crushes the individuality of women, but convinces us that nudity and sex make us braver, stronger and free-er. We're living the lie right along with every man who has ever picked up that drug (which, statistically, is probably a lot more people than you realize).
I think we're so mad and numb because the lie is so deep. Somewhere in there is the stinging reality that, if we're not sexy enough, or playing the game enough to keep his attention, then we are failing. I know women who have been told by TRAINED PROFESSIONALS that their husbands were unfaithful because they let themselves go.
For some reason, we're living in a world that excuses sexual addictions of all levels. A huge portion of America will tell you that "Everyone does it. It's no big deal." But, if we're honest, we can see the trail from pornography to sex slavery lies in a perfect line. Joe's counselor told him that addiction can't NOT grow. People are running around looking for the next fix and, if left untreated, we will find ourselves in a world of bleak despair - where human beings are losing their humanity. We're stuck between these two giant opinions. We either Proverbs 31 ourselves to spiritual death, or we diminish ourselves to a sex object. Neither one of those options offer us our truest reality.
We are MADE for fullness, abundance and respect. We are wise, kind, nourishing, brave, strong, glorious creatures, designed to bring something to the world that no one else ever could. We were perfectly crafted to exist alongside each other like weights on a scale. We were made to walk with each other. We are unique and so much more than a body. Sexuality is a powerful force and we aren't harnessing it well. We're creating shame on both ends. We aren't serving each other in truth.
I'm really tired of seeing a body I envy on a magazine page, or in a movie, and resenting it. I'm tired of jealousy and anger and shame. Those things have only made me sadder. Those little seeds were watered by my husband's addictions, but he didn't plant them. They were already there. And, rather than offering up the old "boys will be boys" mentality, how about we hold them to the same truth we hold ourselves to? All of us, together, were created in the image of God. All of us, together, comprise the dwelling place of the greatest mystery - we house the Spirit of God within the holiest of holies, in the deepest recesses of our hearts. What if we turn our disgust and shame and sadness into a heart cry that allows us to LOVE each other, rather than shame each other? What if we stop perpetuating the idea that a human being could ever be changed by MORE shame? What if we do the brave thing and we start praying for the half-naked girls flashing across our TV screens? What if we extend an invitation for a coffee date to the girl we're calling skanky - not to fix her, but to serve her with kindness? What if we LITERALLY do what Jesus did and host a meal for the worst of the worst? What if we feed them and listen to them and hold a space of value for them? What if we, as the Body of Christ, offer an open door of honesty and recovery to men who have been drowning and whose marriages have been disintegrating? What if we just get small enough to see that God is big enough to heal our wounds?
I would so much rather be kneeling in the dust to hand someone back their dignity than picking up a stone to obliterate their hope of redemption.
*Alright, friends, its a big subject. How can you start breathing hope into the world, rather than shame? What is stirring in your heart as you consider the possibility that change will come through love - not through crushing each other?