I remember the day I learned what my name meant. I was way too old to not be aware of what my name actually meant. But none the less, I was blissfully unaware that my biblical name sake, while being the less attractive sister, was also named based on the only part of her body that could be seen – her eyes – and that they were such, er, unique eyes that she became known as “sad, weary, cow-eyed”. I was 20. 20 years old and never bothered to look into what it meant for Leah in Genesis.
Growing up, I had these little cards on my desk that said the meaning of my name. One said “Beautiful” and one said “Beautiful Meadow” (the English definition of my name). One day in the second grade, our teacher asked if we knew what our names meant. When I proudly raised my hand and said mine meant beautiful, there was no end to the snickering from the boys. Sticks and stones…
There had been some discussion when my sister was born about naming her Rachel. While I may not have known what Leah meant, I think I would have known how Leah felt with having a little Rachel. My sister – man, I thought she was (is) the greatest. The most beautiful. The smartest. The kindest. The most talented. My sister’s name isn’t even Rachel and sometimes I felt like Leah – the less than sister.
Leah, the girl no one wanted.
I am in a Bible study aptly named “Busy Moms Bible Study” and I love being surrounded by women doing life right where I’m doing life. The director of women’s ministry at this church reminds us all of the time that even reading a children’s Bible can be convicting.
I’ve been cycling through my daughter’s storybook Bibles, trying to find one that she likes that also has more meat and have landed on The Jesus Storybook Bible and I love it because every story that the author has included, she specifically includes how this story points to our Savior. It’s written on a 4 year old’s comprehension level but my husband and I have been amazed at what she points out and how interesting it is.
When I picked it up one day, I asked my daughter what she wanted to read. Since she does not yet have this one memorized , she didn’t know what to pick, so I chose the story about Leah. She said “Mommy’s story?” Yes, it has some amazing similarities to mommy’s story.
It ripped into my heart because my name was right there on the page and I could feel her pain in a really raw way.
“But the oldest sister wasn’t beautiful at all (some thought her quite ugly) and her name was Leah.” [p70, The Jesus Storybook Bible]
How many times have I thought this? That other people think I’m not only NOT pretty, but UGLY? The 2nd grade? When I turned my hair orange with too much Sun-In in the 6th grade? When I had glasses and braces at the same time?
When have I turned this on myself? When I poke and prod around my body and how it look so…different than it did when I was 20? When I can’t fit into clothes? When my skins goes bazerk from hormones surges? When I look at a picture of myself from my wedding day and then yesterday and think “man when did I get so old and tired looking”?
Leah, the girl no one wanted.
I know that feeling. Sometimes I don’t even want her.
“But then God chooses people we least expect, as we’ll soon see.” [p70 The Jesus Storybook Bible]
I know that we sometimes have a hard time seeing what any one else sees in us.
Our kids think we are the greatest thing since sliced bread. They give us these real, beautiful compliments. But instead of letting it penetrate into our depths, we chalk it up as innocence.
Our husbands think we are gorgeous. Even *gulp* naked. Breathtaking. Sexy. And all we can think is “This isn’t what I used to look like. He can’t really mean it.”
And God calls us the Jewel of His creation. (See * below.) And I look in the mirror and see flaws.
What if we could absorb the truth about ourselves?
What if the day that our daughter says we are the beautifulest in all the world, we let it sink in?
What if when our husband asks if we know how beautiful we are, we answer that we are learning it better because we can see it from him?
What if we looked in the mirror, met our own eyes, and said “I am God’s masterpiece”?
We must fight the lies that Leah fought with too.
“No one loves me,” Leah said. “I’m too ugly.”
But God didn’t think she was ugly. And when he saw that Leah was not loved and that one wanted her, God chose her – to love her specifically, to give her a very important job. One day, God was going to rescue the whole world – through Leah’s family. [p74 The Jesus Storybook Bible]
I know this has a big impact on me because my name is Leah. So here, try this. Seriously.
But God doesn’t think (insert your name) is ugly. And when God saw that (insert your name) did not feel loved, He wanted (insert your name), to love (insert your name) specifically, to give (insert your name) a special job.
Get a piece of paper. Write that down. With your name in it. It’s ok, I’ll wait.
Oh, good, you’re back.
God may not be choosing you to rescue the WHOLE WORLD, but He has chosen you to have an impact on the world in His name. He has given you the ministry of your home and children. And that may not be all. He may be leading you to lead a Bible study or small group, be a mentor mom, help out another busy mom, go on a mission trip – the possibilities truly are endless because with God ALL things are possible (Matthew 19:26).
I know sometimes we don’t feel loved. We don’t feel wanted. Or beautiful. Or worthwhile. I know some days I feel like this. I quietly pour my morning coffee and wonder if anyone cares about the stuff that fills my day.
But even when NO ONE ELSE does, GOD cares. This is ministry God has given to us – to raise up these children, and influence them for His kingdom, and to do everything we do – the wiping butts, the dishes, the folding laundry, the numbing hours of reading the same book over and over and over – to His glory (Colossians 3:23)
“Now when Leah knew that God loved her, in her heart, suddenly it didn’t matter anymore whether her husband loved her the best, or if she was the prettiest. Someone had chosen her, someone did love her – with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever LOVE.” [p74 The Jesus Storybook Bible]
There will be days when our husbands won’t love us the best. They will mess up. They will forget. They will be stressed and short. There will be days when we aren’t the prettiest or even at our prettiest.
But someone loves YOU. With the kind of love that our hearts CRAVE.
God wants you to know what kind of LOVE He has for you. That He has amazing things for you to do, even in the simplest of things.
So grab that piece of paper you wrote before and hang it up on your bathroom mirror or on the steering wheel in your car or somewhere that you will see. This story hit me because it was MY name, but it’s YOUR name too.
[By the way, Leah’s reward was to give birth to another baby boy whom she named Judah which means “This time I will praise the Lord” and the tribe of Judah was chosen, even as the least of the tribes of Israel to be the tribe from which God chose the king who had a heart like His own, King David, and it was also the tribe from which Jesus was born. Jesus, who loves us perfectly and came to earth to hang out with us and get to know us and show us what LOVE really looks like. Leah’s story can be found in Genesis 29-30.]
Dare you today to read the story of Leah and really put yourself in her shoes. Share what you learn in the comments.
Thanks for hanging out with me today,
Be sure to check out The Respect Dare blogging team – Nina, author of The Respect Dare: 40 Days to a Deeper Connection with God and Your Husband and Debbie, especially for parents of teens, tweens, and twenty-somethings, and you can subscribe to me in the sidebar. And connect with me on twitter @LeahHeffner and on faceboook on The Respect Dare community page.
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*Genesis 1:26-31 from The Voice –
God: 26 Now let Us conceive a new creation—humanity—made in Our image, fashioned according to Our likeness. And let Us grant them authority over all the earth—the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, the domesticated animals and the small creeping creatures on the earth.
27 So God did just that. He created humanity in His image, created them male and female. 28 Then God blessed them and gave them this directive: “Be fruitful and multiply. Populate the earth. I make you trustees of My estate, so care for My creation and rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that roams across the earth.”
The crown of God’s creation is a new creature, a creature that can sound the heartbeat of its Creator. That creature, made male and female, reflects God’s own relational richness. The human family is to join God in the ongoing work of creation. The earth below and the sky above with all their inhabitants are too beautiful and too good to be left alone. They need the tender care and close attention that only God’s favored creature can give.
God (to humanity): 29 Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant that grows on the earth and every fruit-bearing tree. They will be your food and nourishment. 30 As for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and every small creeping creature—everything that breathes the breath of life—I have given them every green plant for food.
And it happened just as God said. 31 Then God surveyed everything He had made, savoring its beauty and appreciating its goodness. Evening gave way to morning. That was day six.