To The Woman He Said…

I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately. More specifically, a spiritual war has been waging in my mind for the past month or so. Have you ever seen the cartoons where a character has a devil on one shoulder whispering dangerous incitements and accusations and an angel on the other attempting to counter the little devil’s enticements? The little devil tells you to do something; the little angel counters. The little devil makes a terrible comment about someone; the little angel makes you feel convicted. You can watch the exchange as if it were a tennis match, the opposite sides going back and forth. This is what has been going on in my head pretty consistently lately until late last week I thought I might go mad. I felt physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted.

One of the battles in this war for my heart was over my husband. I had been feeling pretty neglected by him in several different ways. I didn’t feel like his attention or focus was on me at all. I was going through some things, including a personal health concern along with challenges I faced with our toddler, for which I asked him for prayer. I knew for certain that not only had he NOT prayed for me, but he had actually forgotten about both. He had barely been physically present the past few weeks, let alone mentally and emotionally present. His mind was elsewhere. I couldn’t even interest him in intimacy. I was feeling very alone and resentful and that little devil was hard at work, whispering dangerous thoughts and sowing seeds of anger, resentment, and growing discontent. This place I was in is not a new place to me. It’s a place in which I used to dwell, but by the grace of God learned to crawl out of that depth of despair, although every now and then I stand on that slippery slope and start to fall. Last week I was falling.

In the midst of my free-falling pity party, while I was feeling neglected and outright depressed, I reflected on how many of the men in my life have let me down. From the alcoholic father who left when I was 8, to the alcoholic, abusive boyfriend I had in in high school, to (what I viewed to be) my current, unavailable husband, no one had ever filled my need, met all my expectations, and made me feel safe and whole; no one had ever completed me. Why? What did I do that was so wrong that God won’t allow me to ever be fully loved by a man? Even though my mind knows that “You complete me” is just a cheesy line from a Tom Cruise movie, my heart wants to believe that there is a fairy tale ending for me, and that my husband should be my knight in shining armor, always there to save the day, make things right, and above all else, love me the way I want to be loved. I was praying for relief from my pit when Genesis 3:16 came to me.

To the woman he said,

“I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing;

with pain you will give birth to children.

Your desire will be for your husband,

and he will rule over you.” Genesis 3:16

This is what God said to Eve after the original sin in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. While the first part of Eve’s (and her descendants’) consequence for this sin is unfortunate, it is pretty straightforward. The second part, however, is more complex and often overlooked.

Now, I don’t want to stereotype, and nothing is ever black and white, but (which means to forget everything I just said because I’m now about to tell you how I really feel) most women fall into one of two categories: those who seek their completion in a mate/love, and those who say they don’t need a man (but if they have one, they “wear the pants”). I fall mostly into the first category.

Ever since I was a teenager, I have been in a relationship. I’ve pretty much never been single, but go from relationship to relationship. When one ends, a new one pretty immediately begins. In every one of those relationships, I was looking for love. But not just love, for I believe that most of those men loved me (atleast in terms of their emotions and how our society views love), but for a fulfillment, a completion of myself; I looked to the man on the other side of my relationship equation to make me whole. And guess what? They never did. Not one of them. Sure, they all started out great, but inevitably I would be let down, sometimes even hurt and (figuratively) scarred. This need for love can be consuming. To have someone know me intimately, all my quirks and flaws, strengths and qualities, secrets and skeletons, and love me for me is a longing, a deep-seeded desire that has always been there, and no man I have ever placed in the role has been able to fill it perfectly. Indeed, most have fallen way short.

If you’re reading this thinking you would not put yourself in a position to be hurt, that you’re a strong, independent woman who doesn’t need a man to complete her, or that you’re the one in control when in a relationship, then you probably fall into the second category. I’ve been there, too. I was married for 10 years to a man who, for all intents and purposes, was a great guy. He was (and still is) a good man who never cheated on me, was content to let me have my way, and we got along wonderfully most of the time. I didn’t feel challenged in that relationship, though. I felt like I loved him as a person, but not as a husband. There was no passion on my side. He still wasn’t enough to fill my longing for love. That little devil whispered to me and worked on me for a very long time until I divorced him because I wanted more.

It doesn’t really matter into which camp you belong, the girl looking for her prince charming or the strong woman who thinks she is in control; the only perfect relationship between a man and woman since the beginning of time was between Adam and Eve BEFORE they sinned. As a result of that sin, God told Eve our relationships would be forever tainted. Yet we, as women, continue to look to our husbands to fill a need they never can.

This might seem hopeless at first, but however cruel Eve’s (and, therefore, our) fate might seem, God used what the Enemy intended for harm in His pursuit of us ever since. That longing we feel in our hearts, that need to be loved, that yearning for someone to know us intimately and love us unconditionally, that is God calling us into a romance with Him. And every relationship we have will end in disappointment and resentment if we place those needs on our spouse instead of Him. Frankly, for me anyway, it’s a good thing God uses my husband in this way. Otherwise, I would turn him into an idol and place him before God. But because my husband is who he is, with all his beautiful flaws and human frailty, I am reminded to turn to God, to the only place of true refuge, to the one and only Savior. And as I did this in earnest, the resentment began to melt. I acknowledged these truths (as well as facts pertaining to how much my husband has had on his plate lately). I even laughed a little as I quit blaming him for being selfish and self-focused and admitted how my motives were also self-serving. And when I did, the Lord met me in that place and answered my prayer. My husband warmed up to me. He also apologized for forgetting about those sensitive issues I had brought to him. And I allowed him to be human again.

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