Posts tagged hurt

Dear girls,

 In this series we’ve entitled, He’s Not Your Prince Charming, we have been talking about two main themes:

  1. That only Jesus can and will satisfy your deep and ongoing need to be fully loved and satisfied.
  2. That He, in return, asks you to pour that love of His onto your husband relationally, sexually, emotionally, and spiritually.

All this talk, as of late, about loving our men sexually has brought up a whole lot of reasons why that is not always easy. The sheer vulnerability, which open, unfettered sexual expression presupposes, requires so much from a woman. Trust, acceptance, respect, affection, and an effort to give ourselves to a man who is not always what we wish he’d be.

But there is another element of this kind of husband-loving and what impedes us that keeps coming up in your emails and comments and messages to me.


Your need to forgive him for the hurts he has caused… and your need to forgive yourself for your past failures.

And so, for the next couple of weeks I plan to address these issues because I think its time we all moved past the resentment that makes us crabby and cranky and cold to our men.

And because this is a conversation and I’m sitting outside a coffee shop with a lovely, foamy cappuccino by my side while we “talk”, I need to prepare you for the messiness of these kinds of dialogues. We are women, after all, and hold a certain right to go off on rabbit trails to topics we deem relevant to whatever it is we’re trying to say. Just sayin’.

For today though, I’ll simply tell you a story…

Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess. (Isn’t that just the best way to start any story?)

This princess had everything she needed. Castles and riches and luxury and freedom to become more and more beautiful every day. Her future stretched out before her in one long litany of hope.

Her life would be good, great. She would live forever in this place of continual delight and hope.

This princess was an exceedingly generous person. Every day she doled out gifts to her servants, sprinkling fairy dust doses of good will and help to everyone she encountered. 

One day she discovered that her most trusted manager had been swindling her. Millions of dollars were missing and the evidence pointed unequivocally to this man. She was shocked. Angry. Hurt. Feelings of betrayal and unbelief swept over her. She had trusted him, believed in him, been generous with him.

The man was promptly brought to justice, cast from her presence and imprisoned in the darkest dungeon. Perhaps if she never had to see him again, she would come free of the terrible pain he had caused her by his disloyalty.

Then one day, she received an urgent message. “Please, please, forgive me for my terrible folly,” the man wrote with shaky hand. “I cannot live in this place a moment longer, have mercy on me— I promise I will repay you every penny!”

After much soul searching, the princess agreed to set him free from that dark place of shame, knowing there was no possible way he could ever repay her for the harm he’d done. Out of the generosity of her heart, she chose to forgive the man and release him from the debt he owed.

That very day, the prisoner was set free.  Breathing deeply of the fresh air, soaking in the sunshine, he danced for the joy of his unexpected, undeserved freedom. He’d been given a second chance and he was determined to succeed. 

Coming down the walkway toward him, he spotted a lowly messenger boy he’d once lent a little bit of money. “Ah ha!” he murmured, “Here’s my ticket to a new start.”

Taking the surprised boy by the neck, he shook him hard. “You owe me money! Give it now, this instant! Or I will have you thrown in the debtor’s prison where you will rot until you pay me back.”

As happens in a small kingdom like the one she ruled, word of this encounter soon got back to the princess. Her heart fell, grief welling once again to the surface.

How could he, forgiven of so much, fail to forgive so small a debt?

Justice for the man’s terrible injustice required that the princess revoke the man’s pardon immediately. She sent him back to the darkness where he would wallow alone in his own bitterness.

(You can read the real story, told by Jesus to his crabby and competing and conflict riddled disciples in Matthew 18)

Every time I read that story I realize again how much forgiving real-life love requires.

All those bumps and bruises that happen as we figure out how to do life together.

All the disappointments when one of us isn’t there for the other in the way we need.

All those loose words that come rushing out of hidden places, cutting and saying and hurting deep.

Each hurt must be looked at honestly and forgiven thoroughly or else we end up stuffing our insides full of hostility.

The only possible way to forgive every one of those hurts is to fully embrace the forgiveness offered by Jesus and then to choose with a heroic act of our will to forgive for His sake.

Make believe doesn’t work here girls. You can’t pretend he didn’t mean it or it doesn’t hurt or you’re not mad. That’s just stuffing it and as we all know, that ugliness has a way of either seeping out of our pours or blowing up in our faces.

And making excuses isn’t effective in the long run. He’s tired, pressured, stressed… but that can only go on for so long and then what?

A bitter, hardened attitude can set in when there’s always a reason for his bad mood or his failure to love well once again.

Neither does it work to choke him until he “gets it” and turns into a charming prince full of golden words and deeds all for you. Correcting and reminding and calling him on every slip will turn you into a nagging crab in no time.

Only forgiveness heals the hurt. Daily, weekly, hourly, moment-by-moment forgiving the man for being so unfailingly human.  That’s what God gives you and me. And that’s what He asks us in turn to give our men.

If you want to have a really great friendship with this man for years and decades until “death do us part”, you’re going to have to learn the art of forgiving and giving grace.

Next week I’ll be giving you some treasures from my long time mentor, Muriel Cook. This is a woman who shines with love for her husband, Norm. For now, I’ll just leave you with a snatch of her wisdom to think about this week:

“I’ve learned that a lack of forgiveness is the root of most problems. In almost every problem situation, after peeling off the layers of grief and distress, I find a wounded spirit or an unresolved resentment. Usually, it is the result of a hurt that hasn’t been dealt with or a pain that hasn’t been relinquished to God.” From Kitchen Table Counseling by Muriel Cook

From a heart still learning,


P.S. Do you have any questions about forgiveness that you’d like me to address? Or wisdom that works in this messy process of becoming a forgiving woman? Not the theory, so much, as the practical reality? We’re all needing whatever words you can give. Thank you!




Dear girls, I have received a lot of letters these past few weeks that we’ve been talking about sex and romance and loving our husbands.  Women cautiously opening their fears and shame to me.  Stories of abandonment and abuse, disappointment and defeat.  Of boredom and disinterest.

I sense the honor of being one you feel safe with, and I am humbled by your courage.

Women who hurt deep most often hide it carefully.

We pretend. Oh sure, we women complain about the petty stuff like that extra 20 pounds and all the inconveniences of our less-than-ideal lives. But those hurts that define us? Those get locked away where no one dare judge or in any way add to our grief.

And in your honesty, I hear the same thing over and over again. The man who was supposed to protect you and love you and cherish you and provide all you need— didn’t.

Your father failed you. Your boyfriend took too much. Your husband cannot seem to give enough.

And your glorious, alluring sensuality has become your downfall.

Many of you have simply packed it away, like a dress that doesn’t fit anymore. You know its there, you remember, with a certain sense of remorse, a time when you felt beautiful and desirable.

But now you don’t want what you once craved. It’s brought you pain or disappointment. You gave yourself to someone who didn’t treasure you, didn’t keep his promises, didn’t love you in the way you thought he surely would.

What you thought it was… it wasn’t and what you wish it was… it never has been.

Or for some of you, it’s not that at all. No pain, but not any real pleasure either. You’re too tired. Too busy. Your to-do list is too long. Too many little ones touching you and taking from you all day and into the night.

Your body is tired, your soul depleted, your relationship with your husband more of a chore-riddled, conflict-avoiding, child-raising, career-building cooperative… no longer the romance you once imagined.

And then there’s reality:  Your body isn’t beautiful like the airbrushed, half starved, breast enhanced women in the movies. You’re so intent on hiding the parts you don’t want him to see that you fail to recognize your own inherent sensuality. You punish yourself by denying your feminine flourishes. Instead you’ve become practical and low maintenance.

You don’t want him to see you unclothed because you’ve lost the freedom your beauty brings. The naked and unashamed of the Garden is long gone.

You’re hurt, you’re tired, and your beauty is lost.

And for all three causes, the result is the same— you no longer want sex.

And for each of these three common causes, there are simple solutions. Not easy, mind you, but straightforward and doable.

Let’s start with cause #1.

You thought sex with your husband would mean blockbuster romance every time. You want to see tenderness in his eyes, yearning, adoration. You want him smitten, his passion for you propelling him to a place of sacrificial giving into your life.

And guess what? That is what God wants too. He calls it being “exhilarated by her love”, He goes so far as to sternly command a husband to choose to be satisfied and at rest with his wife’s sensuality. (Pv 5:18,19) God wants your husband to demonstrate His own tenderness by “nourishing and cherishing” you. (Eph. 5:25-33)

But here’s the truth: The reason God so adamantly commands your husband to love you the way you wish you could be loved… is because no man naturally does that!

And here’s the rest of the truth: The only One who will always love you the way you long to be loved is God. His is the love that pursues you relentlessly. His is the passion that uncovers your beauty. He is the one who yearns for intimate connection with you every moment of every day.

A woman who finds her own longings fulfilled by the One, is able to so love her husband that sex becomes about satisfying his longings— exhilarating and thrilling him with her spilled over love. And in doing so, she finds immeasurable freedom. Her body, her soul, and her spirit mesh in a moment of unabashed passion and pleasure.

Try it. Get up tomorrow morning and spend an hour with your Bible open to the book of Psalms. Listen. Let God love you with His words. Respond by loving Him back. Go on a walk somewhere beautiful and drink in His gifts to you. Treasure His love. Relish the beauty He made to nourish you. Pick a handful of flowers that He grew for you.

Then plan and prepare a sensual rendezvous with your husband. Be creative. Do what delights him. Do it for him. Look forward to loving him all day long, to lavishing love on him the way the Father lavishes love on you- even when you’re less-than ideal.

Do this often— as often as he wants and needs you and then a little more. Then look at the way he looks at you. Do you see that spark? That meaningful glance? That passion you’d missed?

Add in a whole bunch of just plain, ordinary niceness… that phileo (friendly) love written about in Titus 2:4, and you have set the atmosphere for the kind of love you long for to grow between the two of you.

Simple? Yes. Easy? No.

This goes against everything you’ve seen in the moves, most marriage books and seminars, and would never, ever be the basis for a best-selling romance novel. But this is God’s way.

And since I’ve gone too long (again) I’m going to have to hold the other two reasons women don’t like sex and the solutions for next week. But here’s a recap, just a little clearer.

Problem: You’ve stopped craving sex because he isn’t romancing you and loving you the way you thought he would.


  1. Cultivate and receive a love relationship with God that fills you full to the brim.
  2. Seductively pour love on your husband out of the overflow of your feeling loved by God.
  3. Do this a lot. Do this often. Do this for him.
  4. Be friendly towards him, remembering how kind God is towards you even when you’re less than you ought to be.

The result:  You will love sex!  Your husband will be thrilled! He’ll be exhilarated with your love, he’ll find rest and comfort in you.  He may just fall over in shock!

Now, do this all summer, into the fall.  Then keep his bed hot during all the winter months. Surprise him in the spring. Do this for years and years and decades until you’re both old.

Those crinkles along his eyes will be all about you. You’ll be so inundated with all the healthy hormones that great sex releases (more about this later), that your own skin will glow without the costs of Botox and beauty supplies. Really.

And if you’re not married, this is what you have to look forward to, girls. A lifetime of getting from God and giving to your husband and receiving back more than you can imagine.

From my heart,


P.S. I still can’t believe I’m talking so openly about this, girls. Thank you for cheering me on, for leaving comments that give me courage to open my heart wide, and for so fearlessly keeping this conversation going.

Your honesty and humility astound me.

P.S.S. I know there are men out there who have allowed themselves to be so perverted by pornography and sexual sin that no amount of pure loving will create this kind of passionate response. I am so sorry. Yet I also know that there are solutions. If that is your story, please get serious help. Stop hiding his sin and seek wise counsel. If you don’t, it will only get worse. If you do, God is more than willing and able to redeem the darkness.


One month after my 19th birthday I married the man of my dreams.

Phil was exactly what I wanted. Strong yet tender, godly and good, he exuded charisma and made me feel safe and valued.

I was new to faith but absolutely determined to follow God with abandon. I’d cleaned up my fairly innocent life in order to align myself with every single rule I could ferret out.Phil was way ahead of me, steeped in the wisdom of the Scriptures and unerringly strict in his application of those words to his own life.

I admired him more than any man I’d ever met and loved him with a passion that consumed me.

When we got home from our fairy-tale honeymoon and Phil went back to work, I set about creating a home for the two of us. I cleaned and scrubbed and painted our little house on the corner while soup bubbled on the stove and ruffled curtains let in the fresh California sunshine. At night Phil came home and filled me in on all the comings and goings and conflicts and victories of life as a worship pastor at our church.


So far I’d lived up to my pledge to meet Phil’s every need. And though we’d had a struggle or two over hurt feelings and misunderstandings, we’d managed to be nice and make up every time.

Until my hair dryer broke.

One of my favorite ways Phil loved me was when he offered to dry my hair. I’d sit on the floor at his feet while he used the hairdryer and a soft bristled brush to dry my long blond strands to silky perfection. So soothing and so romantic.

Then one day some stray hairs wound around the motor of that hair dryer and all of a sudden Phil saw it spark. We smelled the awful scent of burning before it quit. Permanently. Now what? We had precious little money for much else than groceries and gas and our house payment. Running out to Target to buy a hair dryer was not an option.

Phil, ever the valiant warrior, promised to fix it. I put it out on our shiny-new-never-before-used-wedding-gift workbench so he could.

The next morning, as was his habit, Phil got up just in time to read his Bible and before rushing off to the office, gobble down one of my homemade breakfasts (because every young bride who reads the stacks of books on marriage knows that making breakfast for her man is essential to a good and lasting marriage).

Okay, I reasoned, no worries, he’ll fix it tonight. But that night came and with it responsibilities that kept us both out late. The next morning he dashed off in the nick of time to work.

A week went by. I hinted. I mentioned. I suggested.

Phil assured me he’d get to it as soon as he possibly could. He promised. Several times. With a big compelling smile and a compliment on my sun-dried hair.

Inside I was starting to sag. Maybe he didn’t love me. Maybe I was just becoming too much trouble. Or maybe it was his problem. Maybe he was a workaholic. Maybe he wasn’t doing what every-husband-ought-to-do.  Hadn’t he promised to love me and cherish me and provide for me, and all that? Wasn’t fixing hair dryers part of his job?

Every day I mentioned that hair dryer. At least once. Okay, maybe more than once. A lot. And of course there were the notes…just to remind him…no pressure. And Phil started to get irritated.

Then finally we had a day off. Nothing planned but a bike ride in the sun, maybe a lingering breakfast somewhere close by. Time together to enjoy being newlyweds.

But for that hairdryer on the workbench it would have been a fabulous day.

When Phil never so much as mentioned fixing the hairdryer as we planned out our fun day, my insides sank lower. This was it! He didn’t love me at all!

Of course I didn’t act hurt. I didn’t ask if his neglect of my hairdryer meant he didn’t really love me and therefore couldn’t be bothered. Instead, in typical female fashion I looked and sounded annoyed. Hands on my hips, scowl on my face, all those flirty womanly ways buried behind a façade of belligerence. 

And to my extreme consternation, instead of bowing at my feet, apologizing profusely, and immediately making his way to the workbench to fix my poor hairdryer, Phil got mad right back. And that’s when two worn out, strong-willed, misunderstood, hurt people jumped onto the Crazy Cycle.[1

All day long we tried to “resolve” it. And all day long we just kept stepping on each other’s toes and causing more hurt. Every single grievance got dredged up and hashed and rehashed. Tears and apologies and more rounds of blaming.

Just ugly, defeating, discouraging meanness.

All these years later I shudder when I remember that sinking feeling of failure I felt. Our love would never, could never be the same. I was sure of it. We were not the perfect couple. Phil was most definitely not my Prince Charming. And I would never be the perfect wife.

The fairy tale was over.

And that, my dear daughters, is the real beginning of when God began to grow me up so that I could learn to love for a lifetime.

The journey has been long and often painful.  We’ve instigated and endured many days of “trying to resolve it”. And yet here we are, nearly 35 years later and as I write this Phil brought me a lovely half-caf coffee with just a bit raw sugar stirred in and a dollop of whipped cream on top… just the way I like it. I mean, girls, who does that?

Later we’ll talk about conflict and some do’s and don’ts I’ve learned along this bumpy road to real romance. But for now, here are just a few things I think you should know…

 1.  Rules don’t work.

I thought if I followed “the rules” meticulously then my husband would always be happy. But I’ve learned that there is no one-way to love a man well. Instead we study him, listening carefully, watching for signs of stress or that sigh of distress that signals unspoken need.

 2.  Books don’t tell everything.

I love to read. Books have taught me how to clean my house, how to cook, how to pack for a vacation, how to house break a puppy and toilet train a child. But books will never be able to tell me how to love my husband. Loving a man well over a lifetime is a skill learned by sitting at the feet of the Father who made both of you and asking for wisdom to know how.

3.  My husband needs more than me.

I cannot and never will meet all my husband’s needs. I am not enough. I’ll never be enough. And as hard as that is to swallow, it’s freeing too. Being freed from the need to make my husband happy also frees me to lavish him with my love and to honor him as a man.

 4.  He wants to be your Prince Charming

Phil wanted to fix my hair dryer, he really did. He wanted to prove his valiant conquer-the-world-status to his adoring bride. Your husband longs to be your hero too. He wants to sweep you off your feet and enamor you with his strength. He wants to fix everything for you. But he can’t. And that’s okay. Some things can only be fixed by that same Father who teaches how to love well. And some things won’t be fixed until all this broken world is made right on the day He comes to get His Bride.

I wish…  that Phil had just told me that he couldn’t fix that hair dryer on the workbench if his life depended on it.

I wish… that I’d just told him I’d take my broken hairdryer to someone who could fix it for me rather than hold his less-than-admirable-fixing skills as a test of his love.

But I’m glad we’re both freed now from expecting too much from each other and from ourselves. Because the more we learn to depend on God to meet our needs and fix our brokenness the more we’ll be able to love with abandon.

Because, you know girls, He’s Not Your Prince Charming…

From my heart,


P.S. Are you learning this lesson too? Is God patiently and persistently teaching you that He is enough? Will you tell us what you’re learning? I cherish your stories…

Keep checking back this week… I’ve got some notes to help you along the way that will be posted in Glimpses.

[1] That’s what our friends, Emmerson and Sarah Eggerich’s so aptly name what happens to every married couple in their book, Love and Respect. If you haven’t already, please read it! It is profoundly insightful and helpful.



Give thanks to the LORD

and proclaim His greatness. 

Let the whole world know what He has done. 

I Chronicles 16:8

I met, just the other day, with a young woman to hear her story. We lingered over a late breakfast, sipping tea and nibbling sweet potato home-fries.

How do you share a lifetime in an hour?

How could I listen to without weeping?

And yet she did and I didn’t. I held back those tears until this morning. Now, in the dark, with my Bible open and my teapot steaming, my heart won’t stop the flow of tears.

Why does so much pain happen?

And I don’t know the answer, not really. I just know that it does. People choose and their choices hurt innocent little red-headed girls.

But something happened as we sat across from each other in that little breakfast place not far from here. Something powerful, something… wise.

As this woman shared her story-full-of-awfulness, she just refused to give in to pity. Instead, she wove hope throughout each chapter, noticing God’s goodness and His people’s beauty towards her just when she needed it.

Hers was not that annoyingly fake kind of “God is good” parroting of what no one believes— but a wide-eyed discovery that, indeed, God showed Himself good in the midst of terrible bad.

And I think that’s why I didn’t break down and choke on the tears pushing behind my eyes… because she wouldn’t let me.

Her hope was contagious—her deep down belief that God stood with her every hurtful moment of her the-way-it-shouldn’t-be story.

That is how I want to live my days…

Overflowing with hope,

caught up in God’s goodness,

choosing to sparkle with the joy of His care for me in spite of—

well, in spite of the bumping and bruising and unavoidable badness that happens some days.

From my heart,


Do you have a story you can tell us? Maybe let this corner of the world know about His goodness to you?