More than Desire

We love to be loved. But what do you do when that relationship doesn’t have a fairy tale ending?

More than Desire is a ministry started by Ashley Weis. This ministry exists to offer hope for women in the shadows of pornography. Ashley wrote, When I discovered my husband’s porn addiction I never thought I’d be here today, writing about the restoration of our marriage and the hearts of porn stars. God had a plan. A bigger plan that I may have missed had I not been willing to forgive and love. My husband and I have published a workbook for couples, based off the beatitudes of Jesus. You can see it here. And I’ve also published a novel about the heartache porn brings to those affected by it. The novel, Exposed (visit website here), was released in September 2010. We will be releasing two workbooks, one just for men and one just for women, sometime in 2011. 

Ashley wrote one particular blog post that I think every man and woman needs to read (see below). It descries the effects of pornography for women. I daily pray for women who have been in Ashley’s situation. I only lost a loved one to pornography and in my book describe the two and half-year process of “coming back”. I couldn’t being to fathom losing a spouse. Let us together pray for these women, and thank God for Ashley’s courage. It’s exceedingly hard to put the ugliness and evil into words, but Ashley does a beautiful job at seeing beauty in even the most horrendous of circumstances.

“I nuzzled my face into his chest, peered up at him, and said, “I just want to be the most beautiful woman in the world to you.”

Silence.

Immediately, I replayed memories. Like the day I found explicit links on the computer. And the night he confessed to viewing pornography at work while I waited for him at home—pregnant.

“Silence doesn’t make me feel any better,” I said, hoping he’d say something to reassure me.

“I don’t want to say something that’s not true.”

“So, there are women you think are more beautiful than me?” He didn’t answer, but I pried.

“There have been. Yes.”

I gulped and restrained tears. “What about them?” He named qualities. Attributes I already knew he found attractive, but hearing the words ripped my heart into a thousand pieces.

When I begged for a deeper understanding, he asked, “Would it help if I gave you an actual person?” He gave me a celebrity’s name. I thanked God it wasn’t someone we knew.

Then I asked a question I shouldn’t have asked, “So, if you stood her next to me, you would think she was more beautiful?”

“Yes, she’s more beautiful than you.”

Tears rained for an hour. I thought I’d never heal after such devastation. Beauty was stolen from me. My essence was torn apart. I never imagined feeling beautiful again, not after my dearest companion whispered the heart-wrenching words, ‘Yes, she’s more beautiful than you.’

Agonizing thoughts popped up every time my husband and I made love. Whenever we were in public, I feared seeing a woman with the qualities he named. And I cried every time I saw my reflection in a mirror.

I had to do something, but what?

Divorce was out of the question. I didn’t want to break my wedding vows. I didn’t want to run from problems. But I didn’t know how to heal. Sometimes just looking at my husband brought tears. I missed the way our relationship sparkled in the beginning. I wanted us back. But every time I looked into his eyes I felt unwanted and ugly.

My husband began to change. He battled lust and asked God to purify his heart. Even so, whenever he told me I was beautiful, I cringed.

People often reminded me that beauty isn’t reflected in a woman’s appearance—it’s all about her heart. But every time I saw another woman I’d compare myself. And whenever my husband looked at me I’d wonder if I was beautiful enough.

Surely, beauty had something to do with appearance; otherwise God wouldn’t have created women to be beautiful and men wouldn’t be so visually stimulated by their wives. But how could I feel beautiful in my own skin after my husband ranked me below other women? He said he had changed, and his actions proved that his heart was being purified more every day, but I still positioned myself below those women and felt unattractive.

After many agonizing nights of locking my husband out of the house and handing over my wedding rings, I woke up, looked in the mirror, and asked God to help me view myself through His eyes—not my own or my husband’s.

For the first time I saw beauty. But it wasn’t a familiar beauty.

Stripped of make-up and hair products, I saw beauty in my reflection. I saw a woman crafted by God. And He doesn’t make mistakes. Every flaw somehow vanished when I realized that my imperfections were beautiful to Him.

The same God that orchestrates beautiful sunsets created me! Looking at myself and believing I needed make-up, hair straighteners, and tan skin to create beauty was pretty much telling God, “Sorry, but you didn’t cut it. I need to add some things, take away some things, and then I’ll be beautiful.”

It’s not easy to feel this way every minute of the day. Satan seeks to destroy me. He throws arrows at my deepest wounds and worst insecurities. He wants me to feel like I need to prove myself. Like I need something else in order to be good enough. Whether it’s my body or personality, he is always trying to make me think I’m lacking something. God wants me to rest in who I am. Satan doesn’t. It’s like a tug of war for my heart. God builds me up and Satan schemes to bring me down. I don’t want to let him.

Yes, I still wonder if I’m good enough for my husband. I still battle the wow-I-wonder-if-he-likes-that-woman thoughts. But I have learned to view my beauty through God’s eyes. And in turn, I’m not so dependent upon anyone’s opinion other than God Himself.

I hope I will continue to realize the “I’m not good enough” feeling is a lie. There is no perfect woman. God created me to be me. Confidence is a beautiful thing, and I want that! Not stylish clothes, but the godly confidence God created me to have. I desire a smile that beams when the world is crashing down.

I am learning to love myself, appreciate the gifts and positive qualities God gave me, and thank Him for them. I am still learning and struggling, but most of all, still fighting and loving.

Truly, I feel as though my beauty has been resurrected since I looked at myself through God’s eyes, and stopped trying to attain the sex appeal advertised on billboards or advertisements. Although it’s still difficult not to desire that kind of sexiness, God has shown me a different side of beauty. A beauty that He finds attractive, because He created it.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to rid myself of the words my husband said. They still tumble through my thoughts and spin my heart. But I have learned to stop believing them. I’ve learned that I do not need affirmation from the world in order to know I am beautiful. Now, when I brush make-up on my face, I know it’s not necessary; it’s only a fun accessory. Real beauty is created by God, not me.

I can shout with full confidence, “I am beautiful,” because the King of Kings fashioned me. And no one can take that beauty away from me.”

Visit Ashley’s website at www.morethandesire.com 

Wednesday’s Inspiration

When I went to India to serve with the Missionaries of Charity I saw this poem engraved on the wall of Shishu Bhaven (Mother Teresa’s orphanage for handicap children), one of the happiest places I have ever been. To truly live out this poem is a challenge worth fighting for.

Do It Anyway

by Blessed Mother Teresa

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind,
people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful,
you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank,
people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building,
someone could destroy overnight.
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness,
they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today,
people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have,
and it may never be enough;
Give the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis
it is between you and God;
it was never between you and them anyway.