Two women from my other blog, www.peacefulwife.com and I are tag-teaming together to write about this – in conversation style. I greatly appreciate their contributions and willingness to share so vulnerably. My prayer is that God might use this post to help many other women (single and married) to break free from these kinds of destructive, toxic thoughts:
FROM A READER:
The issue I have is that I have always believed that:
a woman’s sense of self-worth or validation comes from her ability to attract a man and have him love her.
I thought as a girl that the “proof” that I was lovable or valuable was having a guy fall in love with me. My operating in this belief not only left several broken hearts behind me as I selfishly looked for the next “project” to build my confidence up, but even now that I’m saved and married, I still feel the desire to know that I still have enough attraction/interest to attract a mate creep up (especially when I feel unappreciated by my husband).
- My Dad left us when I was in elementary school, and I took it very personally. I began to long for the love of a man for personal validation, and developed the idea that perfect happiness would be a marriage where I’m 100% satisfying to my man, and he’s 100% satisfying to me, a sort of mutual worship.
I got saved after being married, and though I see the idolatry of this mindset, I still struggle hugely with wrapping my self-worth and happiness in how I’m loved my by husband. When my husband has an outburst of anger (never violent, but he has a temper), I take it very personally, as though he’s saying I’m unlovable or he hates me (even though he’s never said these words, but that’s how it feels to me).
If I can get “looks” or hints of interest from another man, especially one that seems reasonable and in good-standing, it reassures me that my husband is wrong – I am still lovable, and a man out there might be happy to have me as his wife even if my husband isn’t.
There’s a lot of pain and confusion in trying to write that out, but what stands out to me is the issue of trying to find my satisfaction outside of Christ and my self-worth outside of Christ, as well idolizing romantic love and adultery of the heart.
It’s so good that you are able to see that what you began to expect from a man (or men) was something that was a mutual worship. We, as women, do this almost universally in our culture, it seems, and we don’t even realize it. We tend to expect marriage, a spouse, and romance (the Hollywood kind, of course) to fulfill us, to complete us, to meet the deepest needs of our souls. But only Christ can meet those deepest needs. It is an exercise in futility to try to get a human to meet the needs that only Jesus can meet. Not only that, but when we idolize people, we destroy our relationships with them and hurt those we idolize, as well as ourselves.
Whose approval do you really need?
What gives you your worth and value?
These are critical questions! Check out these posts and see if they might be a blessing, my dear sister:
FROM THE SAME READER:
There were definitely some things that stood out like a sore thumb in some of those blog posts, mostly the idea that I will never be enough to make my husband love me perfectly.
This is a huge blow to my pride!
But instead of humbling myself and agreeing that I’m not enough to satisfy my husband perfectly or have him be able to love me perfectly, that I am unworthy to be worshipped or idolized, and then looking to Christ who IS worthy of worship, my heart has secretly sought to find it’s longed-for worship in whatever way it can – if not by my husband, then the easiest/fastest being the cheap idolatry of looks from men or the ability to rouse interest in them.
- But it is NOT my husband’s job to idolize me or worship me. And when he doesn’t idolize me, I’m not justified in seeking to secure these things in other men, though that’s how my pride feels in the moment.
To be faced with the truth that I’m not enough to make my husband love me perfectly is a humiliating blow to my pride. But rather than trying to cover this humiliation by letting my idol of self loose to get fed any way it can (thus strengthening the idol of my pride), I can let the humiliation have it’s intended work on my heart – to humble myself before Christ, my all-sufficient Saviour, who ALONE is worthy of worship and praise, and who saw the ugly truth of my sin and suffered and died because of it.
It’s not about me. Christ calls me to DENY myself.
That overfed idol of my pride needs to be starved out. So when my idol is hungry for a meal (the adoration of my husband), or a snack (a look from another man), I have a choice.
- Who will be fed today, my flesh or my spirit?
- Will I scrounge for worship of self, or worship He alone who is worthy of it?
I pray God does in me what only He can do. I pray He teach me to worship and praise Him from a sincere heart.
I feel like we’re getting to the core of the sin, pride and desiring to be idolized by my husband or others. I think the deeper part is that I’m really putting myself before God in my heart. It can be confusing, because sometimes I think my motives for seeking God or trying to become a godly wife are tinged by pride as well, trying to impress others or God by my “godliness.” Sometimes I feel I can’t even discern to true motives of my heart, and feel stuck in the deceptiveness of my own pride.
I’ve been feeling God drawing me to His word daily. I need to renewing of my mind and to trust that He will do it. I can’t get unstuck in the tangles of my pride and sin on my own. I need to truly come to God for this work and stop trying to do it on my own.
Sinning against our brothers in Christ and other men:
Let’s also think about how much of a betrayal it is to our brothers if we purposely try to grab their attention in a sensual way to get them to lust after us – rather than to let them focus on our character. I want us to be trustworthy and loyal – always honoring Christ in our hearts. Let’s dress with modesty and act and think with modesty around other men – out of reverence for God and respect for ourselves, other people’s marriages, our brothers in Christ, and other men. How wrong it is to purposely put a stumbling block in a brother’s path to try to get him to sin by lusting after us. God will hold us accountable for such motives. We should be encouraging others to live holy, godly lives, not encouraging anyone to stumble into sin because of us.
Thankfully, ALL of us have the ability to have feminine, godly beauty that is of great worth in God’s sight. As we yield fully to Him as LORD of all in our lives and we allow Him to transform us and regenerate our souls and minds – He empowers us to have His overflowing peace, joy, and gentleness. He enables us to receive all that He has for us in Christ and to receive our husbands’ love. He gives us the ability to not freak out, become doormats, or control-freaks – but to do what is right without giving way to fear. That is the essence of Godly femininity. 🙂
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:3-4
FROM ANOTHER WIFE:
This post really cuts to the heart, and for a former hopeless romantic like me, I can relate to this feeling of wanting to be desired by others besides my husband.
I think contentment in this regard needs to start when someone is single. We need to be content in being loved and desired by God, and not seeking such adoration from a man (or men). When the right man comes along, he isn’t feeding a need to be loved, desired and appreciated, but having learnt to love and receive love from God, you are able to love this man, and receive his love, without any neediness.
When we enter marriages out of neediness, it is likely that we will continue to battle neediness in our marriages too.
My single sisters, it is fine if you are in a position of spiritual wholeness in Christ to desire a relationship with a godly man. But the goal is to value and cherish him as a brother first – not to look to a man to sexually desire you in order for you to feel that you have worth. Your worth is in Christ! His worth is in Christ, too. 🙂 His attraction is not a prize to be won. He is a human with feelings, worth, and dignity. God loves him dearly as His son. Treat our brothers well – whether you are going to date them or not. Honor God in the way you interact and ask Him to help you keep your motives pure. It’s fine for a godly man who is available to you to be attracted to you – and for you to be attracted to him. But our goal is not to be as sensual as possible to try to get men to think sinful thoughts about us when they look at us. I hope that makes sense. There is a difference between dressing in a beautiful, feminine, modest way – vs. dressing or acting in a purposely provocative way designed to trigger a sexual response from men to whom we are not married.
Have you experienced tempting thoughts like this? You are welcome to share your struggles and you are welcome to share how God has helped you have victory over them, as well.
Much love to each of you! I am praying for y’all daily!
Taking Our Thoughts Captive – Peacefulwife video
Tearing Out the Idols in Our Hearts – Peacefulwife video