Here's the truth, painful as it is to admit: Before I met the Lord, I spent a decade looking for love in all the wrong places, convincing myself that if a man spent the night with me, he must (1) care for me, and (2) think I'm pretty. Oh, the foolishness of youth! And the heartache of feeling unloved and unattractive.
In The Eyes Of The Beholder
Four thousand years ago, Leah must have felt the same kind of heartache. From the moment she appears in Scripture, Leah is described as having "weak eyes" (Genesis 29:17). Make that "tender" (KJV), "delicate" (NKJV), or "pretty" (NLT) eyes. Yet Leah was eclipsed by her younger sister, Rachel, who was "lovely in form and beautiful."
Unfortunately, Leah's future husband, Jacob, had eyes only for Rachel. He worked for his uncle seven years in return for Rachel's hand in marriage, yet when the wedding night came, Jacob was so blinded by love he didn't notice the bride sharing his bed wasn't Rachel. "When morning came, there was Leah!" (Genesis 29:25).
At this point in the story, most people sympathize with left-out Rachel. Or ripped-off Jacob. But I hurt for Leah. This cruel deception was her father's idea, and her new husband, Jacob, clearly "loved Rachel more than Leah" (Genesis 29:30). Meanwhile Leah was yoked to a man who didn't choose her, love her, or want her. Ouch.
Unloved But Not Unseen
For all the hurting Leahs among us—those of us who are ignored by the men in our life, who feel unloved by a father, boyfriend, husband, or son—here's a word of hope: You are indeed loved, and your suffering hasn't gone unnoticed.
"When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved … " Imagine it! Almighty God, the Creator of the universe, looked inside a woman's broken heart. In her book Running on Empty, Jill Briscoe admits, "The hardest thing to believe when you are suffering rejection is that anyone is noticing you at all." Yet God noticed Leah. He cared for Leah. And he took away her pain as only he could: "He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren" (Genesis 29:31).
Not to worry. A few years later, God opened Rachel's womb as well. But first the Lord showed Leah she had value in her society and was indeed loved—if not by her father or by Jacob, then surely by her heavenly Father.
Leah gave birth to three sons in a row, her hopes pinned on winning Jacob's love: "Now at last my husband will become attached to me" (Genesis 29:34). But after the birth of each son, not a word was heard from Jacob. When God blessed her womb a fourth time, something happened inside Leah's heart. Three times she'd turned to a weak man for love. This time she turned to a strong God. "When she gave birth to a son she said, 'This time I will praise the Lord'" (Genesis 29:35).
What a woman! Instead of blaming God for what she didn't have, Leah praised God for what she did have: four healthy children and the Lord's unfailing favor. As Augustine wrote, "God loves each of us as if there were only one of us to love."
Loved At Last
My lost decade of looking for love ended when I found a heavenly bridegroom named Jesus. I soon discovered I had a world full of sisters, all of them beautiful. That includes you, sis! On those days when your mirror disappoints you, the men in your life don't affirm you, the children you have—or don't have—leave you feeling less than adequate as a woman, know that the Lord sees your brokenness, hears your cry for help, and can fill all the empty places with a boundless love that never ends.
Liz Curtis Higgs is the author of 23 books, including her latest historical novel, Grace in Thine Eyes (WaterBrook Press). She lives with her husband and their two teenagers in Kentucky. Visit her website: www.LizCurtisHiggs.com.
Copyright © 2006 by the author or Christianity Today/Today's Christian Woman magazine.
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March/April 2006, Vol. 28, No. 2, Page 14