I nuzzled my face into his chest, peered up at him, and said, "I just want to be the most beautiful woman in the world to you."
Immediately, I replayed memories. Like the day I found explicit links on the computer. And the night he confessed to viewing pornography at work while I waited for him at home — pregnant.
"Silence doesn’t make me feel any better," I said, hoping he’d say something to reassure me.
"I don’t want to say something that’s not true."
"So, there are women you think are more beautiful than me?"
He didn’t answer, but I pried. "There have been. Yes."
I gulped and restrained tears. "What about them?"
He named qualities and attributes I already knew he found attractive, but hearing the words ripped my heart into a thousand pieces. When I begged for a deeper understanding, he asked, "Would it help if I gave you an actual person?"
He gave me a celebrity’s name. I thanked God it wasn’t someone we knew. Then I asked a question I shouldn’t have asked, "So, if you stood her next to me, you would think she was more beautiful?"
"Yes, she’s more beautiful than you."
Tears rained for an hour. I thought I’d never heal after such devastation. I never imagined feeling beautiful again, not after my dearest companion whispered the heart-wrenching words, “Yes, she’s more beautiful than you.”
Agonizing thoughts popped up every time my husband and I made love. Whenever we were in public, I feared seeing a woman with the qualities he named. And I cried every time I saw my reflection in a mirror.
I had to do something, but what?
Divorce was out of the question. I didn’t want to break my wedding vows. I didn’t want to run from problems. But I didn’t know how to heal. Sometimes just looking at my husband brought tears. I missed the way our relationship sparkled in the beginning. I wanted us back. Yet every time I looked into his eyes I felt unwanted and ugly.
My husband began to change. He battled lust and asked God to purify his heart. Even so, whenever he told me I was beautiful, I cringed.
People often reminded me that beauty isn’t reflected in a woman’s appearance — it’s all about her heart. But every time I saw another woman I’d compare myself. And whenever my husband looked at me I’d wonder if I was beautiful enough.
Surely, beauty had something to do with appearance; otherwise God wouldn’t have created women to be beautiful and men wouldn’t be so visually stimulated. But how could I feel beautiful in my own skin after my husband ranked me below other women? He said he had changed, and his actions proved that his heart was being purified more every day, but I still positioned myself below those women and felt unattractive.
After many agonizing nights of locking my husband out of the house and handing over my wedding rings, I looked in the mirror and asked God to help me view myself through His eyes — not my own or my husband’s.
For the first time I saw beauty. But it wasn’t a familiar beauty.
Stripped of make-up and hair products, I saw beauty in my reflection. I saw a woman crafted by God and realized He doesn’t make mistakes. Every flaw somehow vanished when I realized that my imperfections were beautiful to Him.
The same God that orchestrates beautiful sunsets created me! Looking at myself and believing I needed make-up, hair straighteners, and tan skin to create beauty was pretty much telling God, "Sorry, but you didn’t cut it. I need to add some things, take away some things, and then I’ll be beautiful."
It’s not easy to feel this way every minute of the day. My deepest wounds and worst insecurities often tempt me to feel like I need to prove myself and do something else in order to be good enough. Whether it’s my body or personality, there’s the struggle not to believe I’m lacking something, but instead to rest in who God made me.
Yes, I still wonder if I’m good enough for my husband. I still battle the wow-I-wonder-if-he-likes-that-woman thoughts. But I have learned to view my beauty through God’s eyes. And in turn, I’m not so dependent upon anyone’s opinion other than God Himself.
I hope I will continue to realize the "I’m not good enough" feeling is a lie. There is no perfect woman. God created me to be me. I am learning to love myself, appreciate the gifts and positive qualities He gave me, and thank Him for them.
Truly, I feel as though my beauty has been resurrected since I looked at myself through God’s eyes, and stopped trying to attain the sex appeal advertised on billboards or advertisements. Although it’s still difficult not to desire that kind of sexiness, God has shown me a different side of beauty. A beauty that He finds attractive, because He created it.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to rid the words my husband said. They still tumble through my thoughts and spin my heart. But I have learned to stop believing them. I’ve learned that I do not need affirmation from the world in order to know I am beautiful. Now, when I brush make-up on my face I know it’s not necessary. It’s only a fun accessory. Real beauty is created by God, not me.
I can shout with full confidence, "I am beautiful," because the King of Kings fashioned me. And no one can take that beauty away from me.
Welcome to Ungrind!
Do you want to be inspired, motivated, and equipped to live the everyday story of your life well?
If so, you’re in the right place. Whether you need encouragement in your relationships or in your faith, I hope you’ll find the transparent voices of mentors and friends here at Ungrind.
So, grab a cup of coffee and keep reading. We're so glad you're here!
Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
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What Women Are Saying
--Rachel Starr Thomson, author of Heart to Heart: Meeting With God in the Lord's Prayer
"Real life is not always pleasant. Every marriage experiences disappointments, misunderstandings, sickness and financial crisis. Ashleigh doesn’t camouflage the pain in her own marriage, and offers practical ideas on how to walk through the difficulties and find intimacy on the journey. If you are anything like me, I predict that as you read, you too will find yourself laughing, wiping tears, and saying 'Oh, yes.'"
-- Gary Chapman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages
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