Tag Archives: Genesis 29

Veil of Tears 86: Second Fiddle

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“Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.” Genesis 29:32 NIV

Yesterday we talked a little about polygamy, and the misery it caused to so many biblical women. One of the reasons of course is that it hurts to feel you are less than someone else, particularly to feel less loved. This happens in the sibling rivalry we have also looked at, and in every possible human relationship and community there is potential for someone to feel overlooked, second best, last in the pile.

One of the wonderful things about knowing God is that he loves us all with an equal fervour. Like the portrayal of God in William P. Young’s book “The Shack”, where the Lord  speaks of each person mentioned by saying, “Oh yes, I am especially fond of x.” God has no favourites in that sense, she is equally besotted by each one of us, exactly as it should be (and hopefully usually is) with the way parents love each of their children.

Where this goes wrong, and there is a favourite, or where a husband or wife prefers someone else (or even some activity) to their spouse, there is a deep soul-wounding that is very hard to heal. Adultery is incredibly painful for the one cheated on. It is an action that says, “your pain means nothing next to my pleasure” and that is horrendously selfish. Marriages can recover of course, but trust is a terrible thing to break.

A golden son or daughter overshadowing another sibling and being treated very differently affects self-worth in terrible and long-term ways, resulting in spoiled narcissists on the one hand, and those who will struggle all their lives with believing their own worth on the other.

Positive mirroring, love, valuing and treasuring is what we all need, from parents and spouses, and what we all equally need to give out. We do not need to be “top dog” or the alpha male or female, just to know that we are enough as we are and beloved without having to compete with anyone else for the honour of affection, or the keeping of vows.

With the Lord, we only have to be, and this can give us the confidence we need to worry less about our place in anyone else’s esteem or affections. It doesn’t necessarily stop those situations like Leah’s being painful, but it does mean that there is a deeper and more reliable love that can be a big part of our lives, helping to heal the pain of feeling second best.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”1 Peter 5:7 NIV

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Pixabay

78: Unattractive

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Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful.” Genesis 29:17 NIV

Unusually, I wrote this piece before I had a Bible verse to illustrate it. Normally I start with the verse and let it speak to me. But maybe this was providence, for I could not find a single reference to a person describing him or her as unattractive, ugly or not beautiful. Isn’t that wonderful? There is a lot of sexism recorded in the scriptures, and yet women’s beauty is never doubted. Even here, where one sister is preferred over the other, weak eyesight is the worst thing that can be levelled at Leah. In our appearance obsessed society where women especially are taught to constantly find fault with the way we and others look, I found this refreshing.

Feeling unattractive is a horrible thing which can affect anyone, and an insecurity that billion pound industries rely on to feed their unrelenting pockets. If we feel unattractive, then we feel unwanted. We think that no-one will have us, will want to partner us in life, or that the partner we do have is just making do with us, as indeed was Leah’s pain, and we’ll come back to that another day. It feeds fears and jealousies and inadequacies that ruin lives and make us ill.

The world has become so intent on marketable outer beauty now that we tend to forget how to see other ways that people are good to look upon. Some people just shine, whether it is with gentle quietness or raucous laughter, with softness or sassiness, with joyful exuberance or calm delight, with graceful elegance or sweet stumbling clumsiness, there is no end to the ways that real beauty presents herself, regardless of gender.

A voice and how it sings, the way a lock of hair persistently falls over a forehead and will not be tied back, the mole at the side of the mouth, the crow’s feet that crinkle up with every grin. These are the things that endear us to people, their idiosyncrasies, their differences, not the things that we all have in common and certainly not some awful Stepford Spouse homogeny that insists on boring symmetry, flatness, paralysed muscles and careful lack of feeling. A face and a body are places to live out our character, our sex appeal, our true selves, the expression of who we are. Our integrity is what draws people to us. If we imagine that reaching for some marketed ideal of size, shape and smile is true attractiveness or true beauty, we are living and believing a lie.

True beauty is slightly off centre, a little skewed, a bit cracked, lived in, enjoyed. It takes up as much room as it wants to and it sashays or slinks or skips, depending on how it feels. It does not pander to the beholder, nor does it realise how wonderful it is. True beauty lives and moves and has its being in the Lord, in freedom, in being itself.

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Pixabay