DSC_0478My friend Mary poured her heart into a thought-provoking post about a conference she attended where women were being coached on being sexy for their husbands. For my friend, the presentation left her angry rather than uplifted, indignant instead of inspired.

Her heart broke, not just for herself but for the thousands, millions like her who have suffered abuses that left them heart-scarred and intimacy-wounded. Women who approach their marriage beds trembling or repulsed if they approach them at all.

How many of us walk, as she described, “with a giant limp in the sexy wife arena”?

For more than half my life I dragged that limp, too.

I was molested by a family relative from age 5 to 12, intentionally set up by an older step-sister for a rape I narrowly escaped at 13, and date-raped at 15. I know the pain and confusion of being violated as a child, and I know the hard path of repair.

I’m not under any delusion that my healing would have been nearly so complete if not for the young man I met at 15 and married at 16, the kind-hearted man who showed me who God really is, the imperfect man who for the past 32 years has been a near-perfect husband.

To say that my husband has been gentle and patient would be an enormous understatement. Simply put, his kindness has no bounds. When something scared me, he stopped. When I flashed back, he held me and whispered comfort. When there were certain things I just couldn’t do, he shrugged it off as unimportant in light of my being made whole again.

Because of that gentleness and selfless love, I have processed, forgiven, healed, and let go. Completely. It’s been years since I gave more than a moment’s thought to any of what happened to me back then. The past has lost its hold on me.

Please hear my heart: I say this not to boast but to offer hope. I say this to inspire you to see past your anger at the thought of being a sexy wife. Song of Songs holds massive evidence that God intends that a wife enjoy her husband’s body and that he enjoy hers.

For the wife who has suffered abuse, the thought of her body belonging to anyone else can be terrifying. Because of God’s grace lived out by my beloved, I can live out Song of Songs with an open heart and genuine joy in this beautiful romance.

The hope I offer is not for merely a marginal enough-to-get-by status quo. I’m not talking about just getting to a place where you can make it through without puking or wishing you were a million miles away. I’m talking about complete healing. I’m talking about real joy in intimacy that allows freedom and vulnerability and even adventure.

Since the Garden, the Enemy has tried to steal the joy God gifted to us as husband and wife. He has used horrific, tragic, heart-wrenching behaviors by fallible humans to derail that intimacy because he knows it mirrors our bond with our Creator. With heartless guile he shreds the canopy of the marriage bed and does his best to rend the veil between Christ and His bride. We endure this evil and relive it in brilliant Technicolor and years later can still feel its rough grasp on soft skin.

But God.

God is greater than any evil, any memory, any ugly that has been perpetrated against us, because we don’t belong to the Enemy. We belong to the Lover of our Souls. We can’t erase what was done, but by faith and through grace and with a lot of work we can walk in freedom.

Today I am a sexy wife to my husband. I am an average-looking woman bordering on 50 with more weight than I like and wrinkles and gray hair starting to show my age. But to my husband I am beautiful, and I celebrate that.

Some might say he has earned it, but that was never his goal. I say that I delight in giving him the gift of myself wholly healed and fully his. I grin and run wildly into his arms unashamed and unmarked by the sins committed against me long ago.

We walk in hope together, he and I, and I pray that same hope and freedom for you.

This does not keep my heart from breaking for my beautiful friends still in process. But it does compel me to offer hope that doesn’t let you stay in that place, that assures you there really is a point of restoration. I can’t mark your journey, sweet friend, for it is not mine to mark. I can’t explain the evils any of us have endured or say why things were allowed to happen or name the date when you will feel truly healed.

I would never imply that your pain is anything less than real. My offer of hope does not minimize the hurt you have lived through.

But I can tell you that where once I was broken I am now whole. And that you can be, too.

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