One of my greatest friends called me out recently on a picture I posted that linked to my blog for wives. The picture was of a woman in lingerie posted in advertisement of a service called boudoir photography. If you know me or follow me on any network, you are probably already aware I not only support this service personally, but I also encourage wives to do the same for their husbands. One of the greatest, most sacred of benefits of this service I have found, is the acceptance and embracing of your physical body as a woman in such a way that not only arouses courage and confidence in a unique way, but most of all brings LIFE to self-acceptance with your body – something I have struggled with all of my life. The woman’s body is absolutely exquisite – at all sizes and in all shapes. Accepting my own body has released a weight of self-focused burden that jacked my priorities and perspective. I don’t want that for you. It’s a beautiful gift for your husband to celebrate the curves and lines, breasts and thighs, hair and eyes, and bare skin body of a woman for her husband. You’ll find references the the beauty of a woman’s body in scripture if you peek back at Song of Solomon…
How beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, how beautiful!
Your eyes behind your veil are doves.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
descending from the hills of Gilead.
2 Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn,
coming up from the washing.
Each has its twin;
not one of them is alone.
3 Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon;
your mouth is lovely.
Your temples behind your veil
are like the halves of a pomegranate.
4 Your neck is like the tower of David,
built with courses of stone[a];
on it hang a thousand shields,
all of them shields of warriors.
5 Your breasts are like two fawns,
like twin fawns of a gazelle
that browse among the lilies.
6 Until the day breaks
and the shadows flee,
I will go to the mountain of myrrh
and to the hill of incense.
7 You are altogether beautiful, my darling;
there is no flaw in you.
Mmmmm… so beautiful, I love this passage. I love that my husband sends me excerpts from these scriptures from time to time. We are both very indulgent in the celebration of sex and physical beauty within our marriage and also both open about discussing these things with others. In fact, after I have completed my candidacy for the two licensures I’m currently pursuing, I plan to pursue accreditation towards sex therapy to further be a resource for ailing marriages. The fact is that if your sex life is suffering in marriage, your entire marriage is suffering in one way or another. Finding ways to build a healthy, open communication about the God-given gift of sex is important to my husband and I and that is what my blog post was about. I directed my personal thoughts to women who are married and challenged them to make some bold moves in gift-giving for Valentine’s Day.
The issue is the picture that I chose for the blog that was filtered into the public facebook feed. For a man, this picture may have aroused thoughts or feelings that are not tied to your marital partner, but to a deeper issue or personal struggle – and that was in no way my intention.
Within this verse is the tension…
WE WHO ARE STRONG HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO BEAR WITH THE FAILINGS OF THE WEAK, AND NOT TO PLEASE OURSELVES. LET EACH OF US PLEASE HIS NEIGHBOR FOR HIS GOOD TO BUILD HIM UP. ~Romans 15:1
From one perspective, it appears that I am not taking responsibility for others that may struggle in this area.
But from my perspective, my full intention was to adhere to the 2nd sentence and use this picture attached to my blog with the intent of building up wives and marriages.
I don’t intend for this to be a debate or even a response so much as just for myself to process my own thoughts and writing does that for me… my prayers and thoughts over this have gotten my thoughts swirling – not about who is right or wrong regarding the woman in the picture that showed up in your (and your husband’s) facebook feed… but about struggle.
We each have things we struggle with – and I’ll be the first to tell you that my posts are all over the place. I’m sure some people have a problem with me posting pictures of margaritas and birthday shots, while others have specifically thanked me for being open about posting alcholic drinks and feel that it’s a positive thing for the Christian community that has often manipulated and perpetuated the lie that drinking alcohol is a sin. Another thought… I can assure you that I have alcoholics and/or recovering alcoholics that follow me. My pictures could be causing temptation for them – or maybe they prove that you can enjoy drinking without getting drunk and still love God? I don’t know, but I don’t not post them because of who follows me. Is that wrong? Hmmm… Here’s the thing, I don’t post for that reason, I just think my cocktail is damn pretty!
Speaking of “damn”… if you happen to attend one of my adult dance classes, there is a good chance you’ll hear a song with an amazing beat played as it was originally released in an “unclean” version. You may dance to the word damn. Oddly enough, I’ve only seen my students find freedom in the fact that I don’t make a big deal about it. We just dance. And yet, there’s good reason for me to not use those versions in my 5-7 jazz class.
I have a close friend that recently gave up alcohol and cussing. There’s a reason she chose these 2 things in particular and I supported her, but it did not keep me from posting my date night mudslide in all it’s glory. She could have unfollowed me, forever or temporarily. I love her but that wouldn’t have phazed me. Maturity in social networking will teach you that you are responsible for your news feed on any media. I have been unfollowed by pastors, Christians, family, and friends – and I have unfollowed pastors, family, Christians, and friends. As @bereolaesque once tweeted “I have friends I don’t follow because I wish to remain friends. Favorited.
Do not follow people that make you mad, increase your anxiety, or cause you to stumble. The very thing they may say or share may be LIFE to one person and at the same time cause issues for another person. Dialectical behavior therapy is a powerful study and treatment I got to participate in during my grad school internship, and I became so aware that there is more tension in this life than we realize and there are times when two things are opposing, and yet both are true. There is no doubt we have a sphere of influence that goes beyond our awareness, especially with social media literally directing much of our lives and how others see us. We have to take responsibility for that, and find balance in the freedom of being who we are. I chose that picture. Intentionally. I even prayed about it before I posted it, and further discussed it with my husband who is my spiritual leader and he affirmed that decision. I thought it was tasteful, beautiful and the most powerful visual display to attach to my blog and get people to click on it. My intent was not to hurt others, but to get people to read, and hopefully spark some bravery in married women.
At the same time, I am grateful for the challenging and sharpening. In my heart it is no longer about right or wrong, but about the person… the people all around me and myself who struggle. Whether it be pornography, alcoholism, foul language, or just good old pride, we all struggle. And with that, I want to affirm to you that you are not alone. I suck at a lot.
I struggle with smoking. I have since I was 13. Even as a cancer patient, I craved it. And if you looked in my purse right now, you’ll find a purple vapor (nicotine free) that I keep, just in case.
I struggle with food and downright gluttony. I don’t like to eat, I like to eat a lot. I can remember experiencing anxiety as a child when our family would sit down to eat and I was afraid there would not be enough for me to have seconds so I would eat as fast as I could just to not miss out.
I struggle with co-parenting with an ex that has very different values for our child than I do. And that is the nicest way I can put it to you. But, the reality of divorce is that you never fully un-attach from a person you have a child with – and you have little to no control over what they see, hear, and experience when they are in their other parent’s home and care. When my child leaves for a visit I begin to fall apart and do not feel whole or fully functioning until she is back home. Some nights I can be found in a ball of screaming, weeping breakdown mess over missing my daughter and the painful consequences of my own life that her life is now dictated by. Divorce is a hell I wish for noone.
I struggle with gripping shame for hurting my ex in the worst way a woman can. I was that adulterous woman Proverbs cautions you about, every bit – and it kills me something wretched inside. I don’t even know that woman, how I became her, and some days I struggle with surviving even the thoughts of her. But she is me, and I would give anything in the world to take that back.
I struggle with children who run away from me, friends who do things without inviting me, a sister who loathes me, and a daughter who does not say “I love you” back to me.
I struggle with feeling pure unadulterated anger when I hear someone gossip or see a &^#* subtweet. I know the deep and cutting pain of these things first hand and I can tell you, sticks and stones may break your bones, but words break your heart, and that’s a hell of a lot worse.
I struggle with forgiveness.
So much pride.
I struggle with putting my phone down, budgeting and co-budgeting, and keeping organization in my household to the point that it can bring on sheer depression.
I suck at a lot. And yes, you influence me – but only to the degree that I allow you. So, I don’t follow subtweeters, my ex is blocked, and I pray even when I don’t feel like it. I also follow people who tell me to pray and challenge me to forgive others, and to forgive myself. I follow boudoir accounts, foster care accounts, pole dancing, weight lifting, cake baking, scripture professing and shoe wearing accounts. I even follow some gays. But, I don’t follow politicians. That’s me. It may not be right, but it’s real. I pray that I can be the type or person to do the second part of the that verse. I want to spend my life building others up in every way I can possibly do that. And, I’m human – I’m not going to do it all right, but I hope at least my heart is understood by some because I will never please or agree with everyone.
And if I’m not helping people that struggle through my use of social media then I don’t want any part of it.
I don’t post anything I wouldn’t feel comfortable with my own children seeing – including my 12 yr old girls and my 23 year old son.
And, please know that I don’t mean to say any of this in a boastful way, I mean to say that I suck at a lot, but I’m growing and I’m learning and most importantly I love you. I truly love you even if you don’t love me, even if you don’t know me, and especially if you are a girl from 2 days to 202 yrs, and I want the best for each of you and I am grateful that you all continuously make me better, too. ❤