It was over 14 years ago when I stood in that checkout line with the man I was engaged to be married to. As we stood there waiting our turn for our groceries to be rung up, my Beloved noticed the tabloid magazines on display. One had a caption that read, “Why Get Married.” My godly fiance replied, “So I can get Jolene in bed.”
Dismayed by what I heard, my jaw dropped to the floor and I am certain my face turned several shades of red. I was completely offended by his callous, unromantic, not to mention, ungodly response as to why he and I should be united in marriage!
Perhaps I said his comment was offensive, (I can’t remember now that so many years have passed) or maybe he saw the look of utter shock on my face, therefore, he proceeded to explain himself.
He, being a direct and straight to the point, kinda man, shared that you can be friends with each other and do all sorts of things together. You can be emotionally, mentally and even spiritually connected, but one thing you can’t have according to God’s Word, is to be united physically. The act of marriage, aka, getting me in bed, is ONLY reserved for a husband and wife.
But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. 1 Corinthians 7:2 (NLT)
I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, Do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases. Song of Songs 8:4
Well, that made complete sense to me. In a nutshell, the act of marriage is what makes a marriage different from any other relationship. I took that concept and held onto it for the next 14 years allowing it to change me into a wife.
You see, I grew up as a tom boy. Competitive sports, ponytails and sweaty clothes. Certainly not a girlie-girl, and on top of all of that, I was a take charge kinda woman yet, coming to Christ and becoming a wife, changed all of that. My heart was to learn how to be a God-fearing woman; or should I say, a feminine lady.
14 years ago today, my wedding day was the epitome of biblical femininity.
It was the second best day of my life.
The day I said, “I Do” to becoming his wife.
Surrendering my life into his hands; submitting to him until death do us part.
I expected him to lead me; lead me to Christ.
No, I didn’t walk down the aisle in a wedding pant-suit, rather, I wore a wedding dress. A white, form-fitted, elegant dress. Every ounce of it screamed femininity, along with what I wore underneath it. (wink)
Mr. and Mrs. Eric Engle
March 14, 1998
But when my babies came into the world they changed my body. The girlish figure I retained until I was 30, was now turning into a woman’s. The widening of my hips made it impossible to squeeze into my most favorite dress!
A dress that symbolized a
the coming together physically,
and when the ceremony was over, the dress symbolized….a wife.
So, today as a wife I am nowhere near the same size I was on the day I got married! I was a skinny mini thing back then, but I had to starve myself and workout endlessly to get that way. Yet in spite of all of that, I was oh so self-conscious of standing bare-skinned before my new husband on our wedding night! I know I am not alone in this, even the Shulamite woman who married Solomon had her insecurities as well!
Do not look upon me, because I am dark, because the sun has tanned me. Song of Solomon 1:6
I soon realized on my honeymoon how the negative view I had of my body could hinder my marriage bed. I didn’t want those insecurities to come between us, so I continued to workout and watched what I ate in the years to come.
But when the babies were born, so did the chronic illnesses, the thyroid and hormone issues along with the physical limitations of my body. Infections took place in my body that ravaged the marriage bed for a long period of time. Family persecutions happened. Homeschooling needed to fit into the schedule. Financial turmoil made life difficult. And of course there was outside ministry as well.
The weight came on and it didn’t want to go off. My metabolism came to a screeching halt. More cellulite was added to my body, along with fat rolls, a muffin top, and a big fat baby pooch. All areas that I wanted to cover up. Why couldn’t my feet get fat instead of my waist? As well, I’ve come to realize that I am allergic to standing on my bathroom scale; it makes me depressed and there is no allergy medicine to reduce the reaction, except for working out and watching what I eat!
I am thankful for a husband who did not marry me for my outer appearance and for not complaining about my body over the years. He married me because of the heart I have for the Lord and he knows that beauty is fleeting. And when I get depressed about my body, he reminds me that my job is not to be a super model. However, I know when I walked down the aisle that day, I was not walking down to marry Jesus! No, I was marrying a man. A visual, flesh-filled man. A man who enjoys seeing my hair curled, lipstick on my lips, high heels on my feet, and sweet smelling perfume on my body. Just like the day I walked down the aisle as his bride! He’s a typical husband wanting to enjoy the beauty of his wife.
So, even if I can’t fit into my wedding dress anymore, I am still a wife. A feminine lady who wants to be pleasing to her husband with her countenance and her outer appearance. Regardless of how difficult life has been for me, I still try to look and act feminine for my man.
You have ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; You have ravished my heart with one look of your eyes, with one link of your necklace. How fair is your love, my sister, my spouse! How much better than wine is your love, and the scent of your perfumes than all spices! Your lips, O my spouse, drip as the honeycomb; Honey and milk are under your tongue; And the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon. Song of Songs 4:9-11
Here’s a few things I have learned over the course of our 14 years of marriage:
- Maintain a submissive attitude towards my husband. As a result of this, he feels honored and I feel cherished.
- The more feminine I become, the more manly he becomes. Today I wear more lipstick and skirts and less sweatpants now that I am married.
- I have learned not to over commit myself to outside ministry because it will hinder my marriage. I just don’t have time to do it all!
- Homeschooling (or parenting, if you happen not to homeschool) is a black hole. It can swallow me and my marriage up and it can become an idol in my life if I allow it. Therefore, we will not bow down to the altar of academics. I can’t and shouldn’t do everything and it’s okay to let some things go.
- My Beloved is my husband and that means he is my first ministry and comes before all others. Exercising and eating right is a part of that ministry to him because he is to physically delight in my body, and I don’t want to deprive him of that because of my insecurities. I fail daily in these areas because who in their right would like to eat salad and veggies and limit their chocolate and dessert intake, especially when life gets hard and you start to recognize that you have become an emotional eater? I’ll let you know right now that I will not be the first one to raise my hand on that one, but, nonetheless, I will keep trying!
- If my marriage bed is hindered, so is my marriage. This propels me to work on being physically attractive for my man even with all of my physical limitations, time constraints, or when I don’t want to curl my hair because I am lazy! Yet, I am mindful of keeping a balanced life and making sure my outer appearance does not become an idol as well.
Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. She is a loving deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts satisfy you always. May you always be captivated by her love. Why be captivated, my son, by an immoral woman, or fondle the breasts of a promiscuous woman? Proverbs 5:18-20 (NLT)
No, taking care of my body is not easy and I could come up with every excuse in the book…and be justified in using it. But the last thing I want to do is rob my husband (or myself!) from the blessings of physical intimacy that we get from being married. Yes, we have a great friendship, but I want a great marriage as well, and we all know what sets those two relationships apart….it’s the act of marriage!
His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me. Song of Songs 2:6
So, do you struggle with maintaining a pleasing outer appearance for your husband as well? What do you do to overcome your struggles? I’d love to hear your ideas!
Live a poured out life for the Master,
Did you enjoy reading The Alabaster Jar?