The ‘Leah Place’ – remember the story of Leah and Rachel from the Bible? The two sisters who had many children by the same man. Rachel was the favorite and Leah was not. In my opinion, Leah is the Heroine of this story because she became the Heroine of her OWN STORY. She was abused, mistreated and neglected. She desperately wanted the love of her husband but was emotionally neglected. (Sound familiar?)
However, by the time Leah had her last child she had finally figured it out – the secret to becoming a Heroine. She experienced HERSELF thru the eyes of God. She loved HERSELF within God’s love for her, apart from her husband’s performance.
In her book, Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible, author Liz Curtis Higgs puts it like this, “[Leah] experienced herself as God’s beloved, despite the fact that she had no love or validation from her husband. Judah was born and she “praised the Lord”.
hmmm…. what validation have I been seeking that has stopped me from experiencing myself as God’s beloved? Do I even know that I’m beloved? How do I know? I’ve been so bruised, beaten and mislead- I’ve been walking around so confused seeking validation from elsewhere for so long that my Lord’s voice has been distorted and brutally mamed.
What has kept me from falling in love with the woman God created me to be? When I look at my story I see a pattern. I see I have spent so much energy on trying to please others, meet their expectations, and rescue them. I’ve been caught in the trap of trying to change another person. If I could just get that person to act the way I want them too – then I’d be right! I’d be validated! They’d meet all my needs! They’d give me worth. Essentially, what I’ve been acting out all this time is what author Nancy Groom defines as codependency. “Codependency is a self-focused way of life in which a person is BLIND TO HER TRUE SELF”
AKA: she hasn’t fallen in love with the woman GOD designed her to be- her IDENTITY
Her definition continues: “she continually reacts to others being controlled by and seeking to control their behavior, attitudes, and/or opinions, resulting in SPIRITUAL STERILITY, LOSS OF AUTHENTICITY and absence of intimacy.”
Some sexual addiction therapists will call that intimate partner betrayal trauma. No matter what name you give it – the more I learn and the more I watch my own behavior the more I realize all of my searching for validation is a result of the impact of trauma that STOLE a very young girl away from her TRUE IDENTITY.
She’s been lost in the dark woods searching for her validation. She searched and searched for her validation when she tried to please, perform for and comply to her parents. She searched for her validation when she tried to save and rescue an abusive, sexual addict.
Something has been stolen from that little girl- her essence. MY ESSENCE has been stolen by shame, abuse, and other’s pride and arrogance.
As I continue to study my own story I realize that it’s all just been a mighty attempt from the enemy himself to STEAL MY ESSENCE, my BEAUTY, and my GLORY. To physically assault and annihilate my IDENTITY. As author Stasi Eldridge says, “the evil one arranges for her to be abandoned…you have been assaulted, you have fallen to your own resources [me searching for my validation], and your sins to pin your heart down.”
What horrors! If I remain in the dark woods searching and searching for validation thru codependency – that would be exactly where the enemy wants me to remain… and I’m not the only one!
Leah too was God’s beauty, His beloved, His crown of creation… but my girl Leah was also lost searching in the woods for validation. She got confused – her wounds left her alone and abandoned – she forgot her Lord’s voice. She ran to codependency, just like me, constantly trying to receive her worth and identity from her husband.
Watch Leah’s pattern in codependency:
v. 32 first kid named Reuben is born and she says, “now my husband will love me”
v. 33 third kid named Levi is born and she says, “surely this time my husband will feel affection for me, since I have given him 3 sons!”
Finally, in verse 35, “Once again Leah became pregnant and gave birth to another son. She named him Judah, for she said, “Now I will praise the Lord!” And then she stopped having children” New Living Translation
Leah finally found her essence, she knew she was beloved, she knew she was beauty and glory. She knew her identity. She didn’t need the validation of her husband, she stopped trying to convince him to love her or treat her with respect and kindness. She could stand in her own – validated in God’s kingdom as His beauty- just because she WAS. You see, at the beginning of that passage the Lord spoke: “When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, he enabled her to have children” v.31
The Lord didn’t allow her to have children so she could try to convince Jacob to love her. He gave those children to HER- out of His love and compassion. He gave those children to her as a gift because He is near to the broken hearted and He wanted to love on Leah…And finally, she remembered her Lord’s voice. She knew she was validated just because she was beloved.
Henri J. M. Nouwen in Life of the Beloved. Says, “I kept running around it in large or small circles, always looking for someone or something able to convince me of my Belovedness”
I’m realizing, as Leah realized, I don’t need to convince someone to be the way I want them to be because as I become a Heroine in my story – it’s okay that they aren’t who I want them to be. I’m beloved on my own-not because of them.
My dear sister, in order to move from victim of circumstance to becoming the Heroine we must have our identity firmly rooted in the fact that we are beloved. I must fall in love with the woman God created me to be … I must experience MYSELF as the beloved of God…. I must love myself within God’s love FOR me…. “In order to be intimate, you need a self” – Anne Wilson Schaef
So practically, what does this look like? How do I get to myself? My identity?
Plain and simple: I must learn the sound of my Lord’s voice.
The wounds from our trauma can cause us to lose the voice of God. Shame and lies end up replacing the voice of God and once we start to believe shame, that’s when we get lost in the dark woods of confusion.
In my case, I came from a childhood of such spiritual abuse and performance based faith, as a result, I literally never learned that God loves me, that He wants me to prosper, that He has good and perfect gifts for me. I believed He didn’t care about me.
However, the more I discover WHO I am – just because I AM beloved. The more I realize I have been in a process of learning the sound of my Lord‘s voice. I am in a process of leaving the dark, confusing woods and walking out into the wilderness. Out in the wilderness away from the shame, condemnation, judgement, lies and abuse.
In MY wilderness it’s only me and the Lord. And the more time I spend with Him there, watching how He treats me, the more I am learning the sound of His voice.
Hosea 2: 14-17 describes the process like this:
“But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there.
I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.
She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young, when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt.
When that day comes,” says the Lord “you will call me ‘my husband’ instead of ‘my master.’
O Israel, I will wipe the many names of Baal from your lips, and you will never mention them again.”
I dare you to read that passage again and this time – insert your own name! It gives me the chills! “O Rochelle, I will wipe the many names of SHAME from your lips and you will never mention them again.” WOW! He is so in love with me.
So how does this help me become a Heroine? An owner? I am convinced it’s by falling in love with Him. HE WILL SHOW ME I AM BELOVED- HE WILL SHOW ME MY VALUE. HE WILL RESTORE MY ESSENCE.
HE is my knight in shining armor. My romance of a lifetime – and as I learn the sound of His voice, learn His scent, learn His behavior, watch HIS track record over time – the more I know intimacy with the girl He created me to be!
As I experience myself inside of His love, I realize it has nothing to do with my relationships. I am not defined as being a wife, ex-wife, mother, sister, friend, girlfriend, teacher, professional, ect. – I’m already valuable because of the identity He has given me.
His love for me has nothing to do with my codependency and my search for validation. In fact, as I become a Heroine; as I recognize there is nothing to clean up, I just AM, I’m BELOVED- the more I will start to exit the woods of confusion and the codependency, the PTSD and all the coping strategies will begin to fall away- leaving my TRUE ESSENCE.
Mark 2:17 says, “Jesus said to them, It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners’”
Heroines, I believe that until we begin to live from a place of IDENTITY – we are walking around sick. Sick with confusion. Searching for validation in all the wrong places. How comforting to know that we’re the ones Jesus came for!!
AKA: it’s okay to be jacked up and recognize that I can’t be a Heroine of my story without Him. Bad things have happened – broken people have broken me. Evil behavior caused me to be sick, yet I can still love myself inside of the way God loves me. Just like the Leah place.
My Dear Sister, I want to leave you with a challenge and a prayer: The challenge is…
- Watch for the Lords voice in your life. How is He pursuing you in love? Watch His track record over time towards you.
- Have you gone out into the wilderness with Him? What would that look like?
Heroine, the woods can be so dark and confusing. Don’t let the enemies plan to STEAL your beauty and glory leave you in victim mode.
Rise up woman; CLAIM YOUR IDENTITY. Fall in LOVE with HIM and you will fall in love with the woman God created you to be!
“No longer will they call you Deserted…
But you will be called Hephzibah
and your land Beulah [married]
for the Lord will take delight in you!”
My prayer for us is a version of the “Prayer of Recollection” it’s written by Professor, John H. Coe and I’ve adapted it from Lee Strobel’s book A Case for Grace.
When you lose your true self – I’d encourage you to pray this prayer. You can adjust the words to be appropriate for your situation.
“Lord, I’ve been so lost in the woods of confusion. I’m either trying to run from my pain, or seek validation and value thru convincing another human being to change. I just keep thinking if they’ll only give me what I want and act right then I’ll have value. That is idolatrous – it’s not who you’ve said I am. And it’s leaked into my identity. Only YOU can show me my true self. They can’t be you.
I’m tired and confused from listening to all the shame, gaslighting and lies from my abusers and betrayers. I can’t please them or fix them. I’m thankful I’m not God and only You Are the true healer of the sick.
I affirm that I’m not defined by my roles, accomplishments or failures. At my deepest places I’m not my behaviors, my feelings, my choices, my personality quirks, my virtues, my codependency, or my coping mechanisms. I am not my PTSD, or my people pleasing. I am not defined by what other people think of me.
At the core of my spirit I am not a wife, mother, ex-wife, teacher, professional, performer, runner … I’m not my degrees, I’m not my bank account, I’m not my possessions or relationships, I’m not an abuse victim, I’m not a codependent, I’m not a trauma victim, I’m not an addict and I’m not my sickness.
My Lord, my TRUE HUSBAND I claim in the power of Jesus’ resurrection the reality of my soul’s TRUE IDENTITY: I am YOURS, created for union with you. In my deepest place, I am a naked spirit clothed in the righteousness of Christ. I am BELOVED. I am precious in your eyes. I am fully pardoned and fully accepted by you. I am YOUR BRIDE, beloved by you for eternity and held in your everlasting embrace. THAT is who I truly am. Amen.”
My Dear Sister,
He loves you.
YOU ARE BELOVED.
YOU CAN WALK IN YOUR IDENTITY