Monday, June 11, 2012

the harsh reality and the Soli Deo Gloria Party

It's time to pull up your chair.  Do you know you have one here in this space we call Soli Deo Gloria?  You do.  It's reserved every week only for you.  This place would be different if you weren't here and we miss you when you are gone.  This is a place filled with women who seek to honor your words, you heart, your tears, and your laughter.  Scooch in close.  You won't want to miss a word.
To read more about the Soli Deo Gloria community, please click here.

Also, SDG retreat registration is live!!  There are only 50 spots total, so please, get your registration in early so you don't miss out.
Love this from Tracy on Pinterest!
I've been saying, even as recently as last week, that I would be really fine if my book never gets published.

And it's really true.  I've seen so many good things come out of the process of writing it that I would be content with just that.  But there is another reason I don't want it to be published --

I'm terrified.  On so many levels, I am terrified.

So, today, I am writing a little about a current part of the journey.  It's pretty raw and unedited, but it's good for me to practice being vulnerable in this space.  I hope you don't mind.  Here it goes:

I was writing along in my first chapter -- the chapter where I talk about first discovering the illicit images on the computer years ago.  I remember the deep feelings of insecurity that immediately cropped up.  Even today, I can remember her hair and the perfect body.  And I remember thinking --

I can never measure up.


I cannot be this image on the screen.  I cannot be perfectly toned in every area.  I cannot erase my cellulite.  I cannot dye my eyes or lengthen my legs.  I don't even think my hair will grow that long.

I cannot compete with perfection.  Scratch that.  I cannot compete with manufactured perfection.  If this is what it takes, it is an impossible, unobtainable goal.


I remember the words that Craig said to me in the weeks following that first discovery.

I've had this problem way before I met you.
I don't compare.
It's not the same.
It has nothing to do with you.


And I believed him.  I separated the addictive behaviors from what happened between us.  I drew a line, put up a wall, created that clear distinction.

Because I couldn't survive any other way.

But back to writing the chapter, I begin to have these questions.  Questions that I am sure I had from the beginning, but that I couldn't articulate in that state of raw and open-woundedness.  I scratch them out on my notepad so that when we have our writing time that night, he can answer them in the chapter that he is going to explain the roots.

What need does pornography fill that a wife (or sex with a wife) does not?
Do you compare us?
Does a good sex life lead to a decrease in your porn life?
How can their be two separate entities in your brain?


He reads the questions and he looks at me.  I don't know the answers to these questions, he says.

You have to know the answers to these questions, I say.

But, I don't just need the answers for the book.

I need them for me.


I'm sorry, he says.  And I can tell in his eyes that he is sorry.  And if he had the answers right then, he would speak them.  But he just doesn't know yet.

But, God! I cry, secretly.  Because now all those initial fears of not being enough come roaring back.  And the noise is so loud in my ears that I just cannot stand it.  It rushes at me like a wave and I am drowning again just like that very first day.

We women.  We just need to know that we are enough, that we can satisfy.  We need this at the very core of our being because it seems that everything in the world tells us that we cannot possibly until we do this or have this or become this...

Later that night, I look at myself in the mirror.  I think about how far I have come -- losing 50 pounds, having two babies, running marathons, contorting my body into yoga poses.

It's not terrible, I think.  But still not enough.

I'm in a dark place and I don't know how to get out of it.  I cannot wait for the answers to come to Craig. I cannot survive in these sea of darkness for indefinite amount of time.

I close my eyes and try to sleep.

The next morning, I have new clarity.  It's the first thing on my mind after I get the kids up for their last day of school, but even in the chaos, I hear Him clearly.

You are more.  You are the perfectly shaped puzzle piece that I created for your husband.  It's not just the shape of your body, my daughter.  It's the shape of your heart.  It's in the shape of your soul, of your spirit, of your words.  You are the perfect fit and to compare yourself to some manufactured image...you don't do Me justice.  You are more.


I type this out with tears, friends.  Tears for myself, tears for any of you who judged yourself by the contours of your body alone.  Tears that I have ingested this message that it matters if I look as good as ___________.  But I'm tasting freedom.  Freedom because I know that even though I make mistakes, even though I react out of hurt or anger or frustration, even though I am not perfect, I know that I was chosen for my husband.  I know that I love him and that I love him well.  I know that I fight for him unlike any other.  I know that.  And because I was crafted by One who loves me deeply, I am more than enough for him.

54 comments :

  1. Oh Jen, how familiar the "not enough" although not the same issues, so many of us have the same thoughts and feelings. God is so good to bring us into that amazing place of freedom... Blessings and prayers as you continue to write...

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  2. I know "not enough" all too well. I'm thankful for His grace and that He's teaching me to be free in all the things I am. Blessings to you!

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  3. I love your honesty in this post, Jen. I too understand the "not enough" feeling, but I love those words from the Spirit, "you are more". Beautiful. Thanks for writing about this topic. Blessings on your words!

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  4. Oh, sweet Jen, my heart hurts for you. You are more than enough. You are PERFECT. It is difficult not to compare oneself to what the world calls perfection. But God sees the perfection on the inside, which is highly desired above the world's view. Praying for you. Blessings to you, dear one!

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  5. thank you, jen. for sharing these deepest parts of you. and i love your conclusion, the way the Lord spoke to you, affirmed you, brought the clear picture to mind. what joy and encouragement to read these words written this night.
    bless you! and don't give up. your story is one to be shared. HIS story through you--one for many to read/hear.
    steph

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  6. I appreciate you sharing your heart, asking those painful questions many women think. I think we all compare ourselves and forget that the Artist made us to glorify Him. I love how you focused on the fact that you were chosen for your husband. Praying for you!
    www.toshowthemjesus.com

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  7. Jen, my heart aches for both you and Craig. I am glad to see how you are viewing your book. It is hard, what you are writing about. I pray that God opens both of your eyes and that you are further healed through the writing. God bless you, sweetie.

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  8. I admire you for your bravery and honesty and generosity of spirit. This is a great post and I am sure it will be a great book that will be a blessing to many! Be not afraid, God walks with you and is holding you tightly! God bless you! Patsy from
    HeARTworks

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  9. I'm feeling so touched by this, Jen. It's healing for all women... We are more. We are more! Thank you for being vulnerable.

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  10. I don't know....I think Craig is right that this is his issue--the behavior is his issue and it really doesn't have anything to do with you. It is older than you are in his life, as he said. What's yours to address is what it produces in you.

    What I hear in this post is a feedback loop--this behavior happens because I'm not good enough, yes I am good enough because I was perfectly chosen for this man. It's an argument back and forth that's never going to end, I don't think. And I have to wonder if maybe you'll never be content so long as you're carrying on the argument. Maybe you can't be content because you'll never really and truly believe that you are perfectly suited to him and always enough to satisfy. Maybe you can't believe it because it isn't really true. Maybe you aren't enough. And maybe that's okay.

    I don't know what I'm saying except if I really think about it, I don't think I am enough for my husband. In fact, I know I'm not--first and foremost because only God can truly satisfy him. Our union as husband and wife is a shadow of the union between Christ and the Church. It isn't enough. And as a woman, I am deeply flawed and I fail my husband every day. So if he has compared me unfavorably with perfection, he's right. I don't think that means he doesn't love me or that our life together isn't full and wonderful. But it's reality. And I know I'm always happier when I accept what's real as it is.

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  11. Wow Jen, so incredibly proud of you to share such an intimate topic here. And my, there isn't a woman on the planet that hasn't felt this not being enough. And those words He gave you, that you are a puzzle piece that fits perfectly with his soul is pure beauty. It gets to the heart of why we love. Thank you for risking with this community. What a gift you are.

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  12. Oh yes, the freedom of seeing yourself through the eyes of Christ! He made and shaped you - your personality, your soul, your voice, your laugh, your quirks, your flaws and even yes, your body, just exactly how it should be. We are all his unique creations, and as you see the value in YOU, what a blessing you must be to Craig. What a huge testament to the strength of your marriage that you are working on this book together. ALL women struggle with that image comparison. I would venture to say that even women in the porn industry, with "perfect" bodies and wildest dreams behavior, must draw comparisons to "average" women like us. Maybe they long for what you have - a partner, a confidant, and a best friend in marriage. Maybe women in a fantasy world long for reality. Maybe looking at it from that perspective will help you see that the illicit image on the screen, the body and the hair, is just a dot on the canvas of what it means to be a woman.

    One thing is for sure: You will change lives by sharing your story, and it sounds like (most significantly) your own life, first. Love and hugs to you.

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  13. Jen . . . tears come to my eyes as I read. This is reality, and one so many of us know intimately. This fear of never being enough, never satisfying enough -- it doesn't even have to involve marriage or sexuality. It's a fear in so many corners of our lives. Thank you for sharing; I know this was not easy.

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  14. I don't have words. I love you, friend.

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  15. Your transparancy blessed me. Praying for you. I'm wrestling with similar feelings about not measuring up to media images of women with perfect bodies three months after they had babies. People from my church also comment all the time on my weight. It's annoying. However, just as you said, we are enough and are fearfully and wonderfully made in His image. Be encouraged!

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  16. I remember when I was first married - my heart trusting, but my life experiencing
    invading my mind. After all, my dad walked out and left his family because we were not enough. Holding on to the belief that I had prayed for the right husband, that God was in the mix with us - I learned to squash those doubts and fears out - 29 years later (almost) - I am so glad I learned to trust that despite my imperfections, I am enough! Praying you both find the answers you need in this marriage journey!

    Your courage is beautiful and it roars God's victory through faith!

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  17. In your vulnerability there is healing...for you and for many others. God has called you for such a time as this. There is purpose in your pain and grace to carry you through. I am so proud of you and encouraged by you. So glad God allowed our paths to cross...I know there is more. Praying over you and Craig tonight. xoxo

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  18. Love you my beautiful, brave friend. I know you, and this is the only way to go...all out.

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  19. Beautiful, Jen, how God spoke those healing words to your heart. He made each of unique, for His pleasure, perfect in His eyes, and with the perfect heart for our soul mate.
    Love in Him,
    Laurie
    http://savedbygracebiblestudy.blogspot.com/

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  20. oh, jen. if i could just scoop you up and squeeze you i would. then i would dance wildly next to you. yes. open these doors so we all might say, i worry about this too. i fear that i am not all that i should be. oh, while i don't have answers for you because this is a road i too am on, i can tell you that it makes it so much better to be on it with such beautiful amazing friends. this is *just* beautiful.

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  21. Oh, Jen...oh, Jen. Thank you for writing what so many have felt, questions so many have asked. Thank you (and Craig) for sharing. I didn't realize this was the subject of your book. So important, so needed. Double blessings on you, friend. You're in my prayers.

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  22. So glad He gave you the answer your heart needed...yes, you complete Craig like no one else can...praying for you and Craig on this journey...may He continue to come for your heart and give you His light and love.

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  23. Jen, you are glorious here. Truly. Letting His light shine, being vulnerable, raw, not having all the answers, letting your weakness be His strength in you. Yes, girl, there are beautiful things happening -- and He is moving. Continue to let Him work. S.A.L.T. is a CA ministry that friends and loved ones close to me -- men who have gone all out for God and sought His healing in their brokenness -- speak to how they have been forever changed. http://webpages.charter.net/pureheart/Groups/LW/LivingWaters.htm Living Waters ministries inspired it. And relationships are healed as the men are healed. I am blessed by your courage and your faithfulness, Jen, as you continue to pour yourself out and trust that His goodness is what sustains and satisfies. Thank you.

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  24. Wonderful for you to open up and post this- I cannot even imagine how many women must need - terribly need to hear these words - to begin to heal - you are brave sister- so proud of you - just beautiful!!! God's victory!

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  25. Just loving you here. Just speechless, and sending love, friend. You're a gift, you know? The Lord delights in you, and your willingness. He really does.

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  26. darling, I've heard you speak about this live face-to-face two times and your vulnerability shown through in speaking as well as it did in this powerfully written piece. big hugs to you. Joy

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  27. Thank you so much for opening yourself up! I've been married over 12 years--and still "chase" my husband, trying to get his attention--he is different from me in that he shows his love by actions more than words, and I am still not comfortable with that.

    I am praying that God supplies you richly with His peace and love. Thank you God for bringing me to this community of believers! God bless y'all!

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  28. Your post and your questions take my breath away, Jen, especially this one: What need does pornography fill that a wife does not? That is the proverbial million dollar question.

    You are speaking to and for so many women here. Thank you for this transparency!

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  29. I am praying for you. Becoming this vulnerable isn't easy...for you or your husband. His grace is sufficient, and your story will help others.

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  30. Man alive...this sex thing is so complicated, so muddy. I want so badly to be beautiful, not entirely sure whether I want this to facilitate desire or not. I really do not like the term 'soul mate' because most people who use it don't know what it means. But you--the puzzle piece image--now that makes sense.

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  31. Oh, I'm shaking as I read this.. aching for you and cheering for you and just down right overwhelmed at the muck of this life. It's so hard to hear HIS voice above the clatter. I am awed by your courage to share this struggle and write about it- and your husband's courage as well. I love your heart, Jen. It's BEAUTIFUL!

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  32. Yes, Jen, you are so much more. This was such a heart breaking and beautiful post. Praying for you and loving you.

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  33. Such honesty, friend. You will give voice to many women who just don't know how to put in words what they are thinking and feeling. Love you, girl.

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  34. Sweet Jen,

    It is hard to look back and remember that fresh
    raw pain. And I believe it is so normal that these
    questions will arise again just now. I am praying
    that you can both be patient with the process, as
    hard as it is, as new layers come off, and you learn
    even more.

    Thanks you, from the bottom of my heart, for being
    real.

    Fondly,
    Glenda

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  35. Your realness is a blessing to me. You are more than enough, and thank you for having the courage to be so real and vulnerable.

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  36. Jen, you are more! And those words to end your post are the most beautiful, endearing words full of wisdom and grace. In my eyes, this is just one of the reasons you are more. You have embodied the likeness of Christ in your marriage. You have taken your cup and you are drinking it out of love for another. This is beautiful, and I believe redemptive. Praying for you!

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  37. You know I am all over the "enough" thing :) This post was real, vulnerable and honest. So heartfelt that it felt like I literally pulled up a chair right next to you! Thanks for sharing Jen and I am praying for your book.

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  38. Thank you for being vulnerable, raw and real. You are more. I struggle with being too much of this and not enough of that. Do we all, as women, as people? But, yes indeed, you are more.

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  39. Jen - Oh how I love your heart, bleeding through each honest word. And as women what a powerful light you are shining onto self-image and marriages everywhere....past superficial representation of who we are....and beaming brilliantly, unashamedly, as God children, image bearers....for all to see. May God touch you & bless you for your transparency and honesty, helping do many, I am sure.

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  40. Love you, girlfriend!! Putting secret things into words is so hard, isn't it? Even the exposed secret things...Praying words bring an even deeper level of healing for you and for others.

    It's great to be back :)

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  41. P.S. Forgot to tell you: You, Jen, are brave and beautiful. {{Hugs}}

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  42. Hi Jen - I think the devil knows it is difficult for us to see ourselves as Christ sees us so he feeds into that. I am so chuffed for you that God spoke into your heart. He gave you to your husband as He knows you are best for him and he is best for you. God knows best. The hard thing is to remember who we are in Christ when we feel 'not good enough' Because of Christ, we are. Your honesty and transparency here is going to help many on their path in healing. God bless Jen
    Tracy

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  43. Jen, this speaks to me in so many ways even though not the same way. I always feel like I'm not good enough for my husband. Thank you for your truth and wisdom. It is so helpful today.

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  44. Oh Jen! I so needed to read this today. I know all about those voices that roar in the ears and drown out the voice of the Spirit. Thank you for sharing your journey and baring your soul to us. God bless you!

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  45. Wow Jen! I needed to read this..."I'm enough..."
    Thank you so much for sharing such a vulnerable part of your heart!

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  46. Bless you, Jen. Thank you for sharing from this tender, raw place of your own pain and the comfort God gave.

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  47. You already have so many comments, but I couldn't let this go by.

    You are revealing such tender places. And sometimes even sealed scars still break open. This reliving -- for the sake of sharing with others -- is a sacrifice God sees. I believe a greater healing will come as a result.

    My marriage journey has been very similar to what you described. Healing is incremental. And, yes, dear friend. You are enough. To God be the glory.

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  48. I love the posts and chapters that come from the dark, painful places. They are so real. So transparent. I know they are difficult to write, but it's so worth it. These are the chapters that will transform lives.

    I remember writing chapters about losing Noah, and realizing that in order to write them well, I had to re-live the experience. Second only to losing Noah, the hardest thing I ever did was WRITE about losing Noah. Literally, some of the darkest months of my life occurred while writing those chapters. It was HARD.

    Be encouraged and strengthened as you walk/write this difficult journey. It will all be worth it. I promise. :)



    LOVE YOU!!
    Sandy

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  49. Thank you so much for pouring your heart out to us and for being so honest. Thank you for the reminder that we are beautiful and we do not have to compare. You are loved by all of us!

    Shari

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  50. "I am not enough" is the tape that has been playing in my head lately, as well. This was so good to read today. THANK YOU for being so vulnerable and sharing such an intimate struggle.
    Latisha

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  51. oh Jen, tears for you and for me and for all women and marriages, and for Craig too. really for all men that the enemy has deceived. they are so lost and grasped tightly as in a vice--the same way we are all lost in our sin. im praying for you now. i loved, loved, loved the last paragraph you wrote where God spoke to you that morning. that it is not your body, but your heart and spirit that fit perfectly to Craig? oh, that is beautiful, friend, and the real truth--reality--even though Satan would whisper to us that its not. dont listen to His whispers. because God is creator and father, His truth IS reality. you can rest in that. love you. (((hugs))) dear one.

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  52. oh! i forgot to say i missed the deadline to link up. ive been on hiatus and back now. i, like you, wrote about something very raw and scary for me to share this week. ~smile~

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  53. I'm crying, Jen!!! Oh my goodness, how powerful. God is so good, and this is such a timely word for me. Thank you.

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