In preparation for our trip to Florida for Fall Break, I bought a new swimsuit. When I donned the suit in Florida, I thought I would wow my husband. I took my dress off, revealing the new black, sassy suit, and I waited. Nothing. On the second day, still nothing. The third time I put it on, I thought I would go fishing for the compliment. I walked out of the bathroom and went for it.
“You haven’t mentioned anything about my new swimsuit. Do you like it?” I asked.
“No,” he said, flatly.
“Wow. That was rude,” I shot back.
“Why? Because I told you I didn’t like your swimsuit?” He asked. “Do you want me to lie?”
My hot head tried to sort out whether I really wanted honesty or lies in this matter. “Yes,” I said. “I want you to lie.” And with that, I grabbed the rest of my things and stormed out the bedroom door.
When I reached the entry way, my boys were waiting for me to grab the keys and head out the door to the beach. I told them I would be right down and ducked into the guest bathroom to let the tears the flow.
Could I really be crying over a swimsuit? A stupid swimsuit? No, it wasn’t the swimsuit, I reasoned. It was the message that his careless answer sent me. I had ventured out for the compliment like a little girl who puts on her new party dress and bounces down the stairs to ask her daddy if he likes her new dress. And of course, Daddy says, “You look beautiful.” Even if he thinks the dress is hideous, he tells his daughter she is beautiful. I think that’s what I was truly fishing for.
I wanted him to tell me I was beautiful. I wanted to see his eyes light up at the sight of me, not the dumb swimsuit. But he was more concerned with being honest, as he has been on this journey of finding his own voice, without being such a people pleaser.
Since things have been in flux with our marriage, we step carefully to give one another the room we each need. It’s not exactly like walking on eggshells; it’s more like taking space to process, think, pray and work on ourselves so that we can come back together stronger and more confident in what our marriage is supposed to look like, what God wants it to be and what we both hope it can be.
So while I understand why he is being brutally honest, I still wish he had phrased it differently. I wish he would have said something more like, “Well, I’m not a fan of the suit, but I like you.” Or even, “I like your other suit better.” But he didn’t, and because I haven’t been getting the affirmation I used to get from him, I am more sensitive. After journaling and praying about it, I told him today it wasn’t about the swimsuit. I explained that while others may tell me I look pretty, he is the one I want to hear it from the most. He is the one that matters. He looked at me with gentleness, and I wondered if he was thinking, “All this because I didn’t like her swimsuit?” But he didn’t say that. He listened to my reasoning and he told me he understood and could see how I would have taken his answer.
All of this angst over such a small matter really boils down to what we all want to hear, what every woman wants to hear… that we look beautiful. Some may argue. Some may say they don’t care if anyone tells them they are beautiful. They are lying. Every little girl, no matter how much of a tomboy she may be, wants someone, especially someone who really matters, to say those words.
After I told my husband that his statement was painful because of the meaning I had attached to it, he told me that not only did he think I was pretty, but that he thought I had a beautiful heart. I know that I should be more concerned with the latter, to relish in how he sees the condition of my heart. But truth be told, sometimes it’s about the appearance. The outward appearance of our selves. And when your spouse or boyfriend or significant other doesn’t tell you he thinks you’re pretty often enough, it start to hurt.
If you are one of those women who hears that you are beautiful every day, you may not be as hungry for it. Maybe you want to hear more about how someone sees your heart. You may be dying for people to stop calling you pretty, and focus on your insides, the parts that really matter – your spirit and your heart.
Right now, as I write this, all the Christian messages I have learned over the years are screaming in my head. It’s not the outward beauty that matters. It IS the heart that matters. It doesn’t matter what any man or woman thinks about you, it only matters what God thinks about you. I believe these things. I think. In my head, anyway. I want to swallow them wholly, but in my humanness, I am not quite there. I still want to be seen as beautiful. I want to be both worthwhile and wanted.
The bottom line is this, all of us want to be chosen. You want that person you love to scan the crowd, and upon seeing you, you want his eyes to stop and gaze into your eyes as you whisper, “Pick me. Pick me.” And he does. Over and over. He picks you.
There are days when I am satisfied that God will always pick me. I can honestly say that it does not matter what my husband says because my Creator thinks I am perfect. But more often than not, while living in this world, with all its carnage of broken relationships, I continue to strive to be seen and chosen and wanted by others so I can feel okay about myself. Wave your finger at me. Tell me this is wrong. But this is just the truth of who I am in my wounded and needy self as I try to navigate through this world.
I love this quote by C.S. Lewis because it reminds me that all of these things I long for, the things that may never satisfy or be fulfilled are for a reason.
“If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy,
the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
— C.S. Lewis —
Amen, Mr. Lewis. Amen.