Loved By Another Man
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of sharing coffee with Christa Black, who happens to be one of my favorites when it comes to speakers/authors/singers. As I sat on my eight hour flight to Honolulu, I was reading her book, God Loves Ugly: & Love Makes Beautiful and I was struggling to conceive of how this confident, beautiful, exceptionally gifted woman could have written a book of her life with even the mention of ugly. Believe me when I tell you that everything about her is the essence of beauty.
I suppose no woman is immune from the struggles of inadequacy. We, as women, have a tendency to always find the one thing or the ten that make us long to be something different. As I read Christa’s story, my heart was led to another story of a woman whose struggle we may often overlook. As I shifted from Christa's book to the story of Rachel and Leah, I saw that it held great significance for all of us to ponder.
You may recall from the story in Genesis that Jacob was so taken by a woman named Rachel that he committed to work for her father for seven years in order to have her hand in marriage. , Rachel was considered by human eyes to be lovely. She also had an older sister named Leah, who was said to have no sparkle in her eye. I think it’s safe to say she wasn’t one who was recognized for her beauty. They may have even called her ugly?.
Jacob works the father’s land for seven years, and then the time comes for him to receive his bride. The father agrees and prepares a wedding feast. After feasting into the late evening, the father sneaks Leah, the older less attractive daughter, into Jacob instead of Rachel. Jacob awakes the next day in shock and shares his displeasure with Laban, the father. Laban explains that custom is for the oldest daughter to marry first, but that if Jacob will work seven more years for him he can then have Rachel.
While many of us know this story, and probably have felt sorrow for Leah in hearing these words, have you ever considered what it would have been like to be her? Can you even imagine her heartache in being the oldest and no man has shown desire for her at a time when the value of a woman was determined by their marital status. She must have struggled with her physical “ugliness” as well as her social depravity. I can only imagine her heart as her father spoke to her that day: I have a plan. Since no one wants you and it would be an embarrassment to our family that the younger will marry before the older, we will get him drunk and wait until it is dark, so he can’t see you and you will slip in and then he will sleep with you. We will trick him into marrying you.
A day that most women dream of and spend their life planning out detail by detail is now one of shame and deceit for Leah. Can I trick you into loving me? I am desperate. Her heart must have ached as he slept and she played scenarios in her mind of what may happen the following day when he discovered he had slept with the wrong sister. Would he embrace her or disgrace her?
We see the story unfold as expected. Jacob pleads for the lovely sister, and a week later he takes to bed the one he truly loves, Rachel. Leah sees that she is unloved and that his desire is for Rachel. The heart of God is moved by her aching and opens her womb, allowing her to bear four sons.
Despite the sorrow contained in this picture of rejection, there is a beautiful story of the love of God that takes place. His love for Leah ultimately births something beautiful in her life, very similar to the story of His love birthing something beautiful in Christa’s life.
Love really does make our lives beautiful, even those of us that feel like Leah.
Perhaps you don’t know the pain of rejection or heartache, though if you have breath I find it hard to believe you have escaped it. Maybe you have put your hope in something other than God and have found yourself in a season of wondering if God sees.
Does He hear? Does He care? Where do I go from here?
In my next post I will share the divine intervention that would change Leah’s heart. But before then, I ask you to spend some time pondering....
Where am I putting my hope?
What plans or dreams haven’t turned out quite like I imagined?
Is there something about how I see myself that is “ugly”?
In His Grip,
To order Christa's Book, you can press the image of God Loves Ugly above.