Monday, February 1, 2016

Ah, Leah

Ok, it's time to get down to business here. I've started writing this post about four times. Each time I do, I fall into distraction; not because I don't know where I'm going with this, but because I was there when MTV was born. Yup, that's my story. You see, I graduated high school just as MTV was blasting it's way into living rooms all over the country; they actually played music videos then. One such video was "Ah! Leah!" by Donnie Iris; it was as bad as they come, but the tune became his signature. So, as I was reading the account of Jacob, Leah and Rachel the other morning, and as this post began to form in my head, so did Donnie and the rest of the 80s: Red Rider, The Knack, Aldo Nova. I digress.

That decade was truly a turning point in my life. I had my entire adulthood before me. Fresh out of school, a couple of full-time jobs, my own wheels -- I was free! I wasn't going to have one more person tell me what to do. And I wasn't going to sit behind some desk learning more useless stuff and wasting time. I was going to make money. I was going to make cool friends. I was going to make something of myself by getting out there and doing things... 

Like going to work everyday. Partying every night. How long before that gets old? Not long. So along comes this guy. He's nice, responsible, likes to have fun. Nice Guy and I hit it off, and before you know it we're heading down the aisle. But it's not long before I am bored again, the party life comes calling and my marriage ends in a scandal and a hail of lies. I vow I am never going back there again...

I've always thought I was trying to punish myself, but now I'm not so sure. I moved in with this guy. Definitely Wrong Guy, but there I was. More drinking, more drugs. But no lies this time -- Wrong Guy would have killed me. Literally. So I toe the line. Until one night I barely escape with my life. No dignity, but I have what's left of my life. It's not much, because somewhere along the line I've lost all my friends as well. And I've really not made a whole lot of myself but a mess. I am never going back to a life like that again...

The dust had barely settled before I found myself heading to the movies with Knight in Shining Armor. We had so much in common. Maybe too much. There were issues. His and Hers. We were so busy comparing how our tragedies had "unfolded," we never considered fixing the people who'd been forging them -- I'm not certain we realized we had a choice. But I was trying to find in him what I'd been looking for in all my other failures: self-worth. A second walk down the aisle; a second expensive lesson eleven years later. I would never do that again...

And this time I really wouldn't. I was following Jesus -- I mean genuinely following Him; not just going to church, trying to shoehorn my way into heaven. I trusted Jesus as my husband, and God as my Heavenly Father. I began reading His Word and believing what it said. I began talking to Him honestly and often. And He began to show me I would never find self-worth in a man, or the things I did for a man. That's where Leah comes in. (That would be Genesis Leah, not 1980's Leah.)

If you take a minute to read the passage, you will see the story of a woman who'd been sold to Jacob by her father. Jacob didn't even want her -- he thought he was purchasing her beautiful sister, Rachel. Leah wanted so desperately to be loved by a man. To be cherished and adored by her husband, her father, someone who would validate her worth. And the baby wars began. With each labor, Leah strained in hope her husband would finally esteem her. But as it happens when we search for our worth outside of the cross, things got ugly; Leah got ugly -- even "purchasing" her husband for the price of some food. As a little girl, did Leah ever dream she'd end up like this? Probably not. I know I didn't.

The quest to be someone, to be loved by others, to have someone else call us beautiful or valuable or beloved, can lead people to do things they would have never done otherwise. And in some cases, it can make matters much worse: promiscuity, financial burdens, self-mutilation, substance abuse, failed relationships, suicidal thoughts. As I reread Leah's story, I looked back to the person I was decades ago, the person I remained for decades after. I view that young woman with a certain amount of disgust and an enormous amount of sympathy. I was merely looking for the things we all seek: love and worth, And, while my goals were worthwhile, the problem stemmed from the search I was on. Like looking for treasure in a landfill, we sometimes expect others to tell us how much we are worth. And, by God's grace, they sometimes do. But if I'd had the chance to speak to Leah; if I'd had the chance to sit 80's Judi down for a little talking-to; when I do have the chance to talk to young women, I tell them to look in the pages of God's Word, sit in silence before a loving Heavenly Father, and discover your worth as the daughter of a King.

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