A woman sits at her kitchen table, taking a breath and a quick break from the demands of her world. She is being pulled, pressured, criticized, and drained. She thinks briefly of the woman she wishes she could be and becomes lost in all she wants for herself:
A woman who was beautiful in every picture. She was admired and emulated. Always confident and sure of who she was. No matter what she did, it was okay. She was intelligent, challenging herself with books, enriching her life with music, being a true friend to those who needed her. And yet she was unique and colorful, adding originality which made her stand out. She was unassuming. She knew better than to worry or be anxious over trivial things. She loved passionately and with her complete heart, never embarrassed or ashamed of being vulnerable.
She loved the way God made her body and never wanted to change it. She would never as skinny or athletic as her friends, but she possessed a feminine beauty that was special to her. She was tempted to conform to the world’s view of beauty and change her appearance. But she had an inner peace which gently quieted the critical voices.
This woman worked hard and tirelessly. Her devotion to her job, husband, children, parents, friends, and church was noticed and appreciated. Her walk with the Lord grew stronger and deeper with each morning prayer. Her consistency was unmatched. Her stability indestructible. And she accomplished her tasks with remarkable grace.
The woman looks down at the table and begins to weep. This fiction she has created can surely never be true of her. Always failing in more than one aspect of her life and never experiencing that inner peace for which she so desperately desired. She would never measure up to this perfect woman, who seemed to be balanced and steady at all times. Overwhelmed and discouraged, she prays for God to hang on to her and to please not let her go. She realizes for the first time that she has no strength to hold on to Him.
She remembers from so many sermons and Sunday School lessons that Jesus is described as a bridegroom who gave himself up for his bride. She knows it’s somewhere in Ephesians and flips through the pages to find chapter 5, verse 25-27
“Husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”
She has read these verses a dozen times but reads a few of the words with newfound astonishment – “sanctify…splendor….holy….without blemish.” Her dream has been for these things to be true of her. And yet they already are. Her Savior looks at her as a groom looks at his beautiful bride on their wedding day. He is completely enamored, enthralled, and committed to her.
The woman weeps for a new reason now. She has seen a glimmer of how the Creator of the universe loves her. How truly beautiful and lovely she is to Him. She will forget it soon. She will fall down again. She will feel empty and drained and alone. But she has friends and family with whom she can share her pain and discouragement. She has music and the Word and prayer to help with the crushing battles of life. But most importantly, when all seems lost, she has the promise that God will hold on to her and never let her go.
– Michelle Hitchcock