I’ve been encouraging you to step outside your comfort zone and try new things, because you never know what wonder and joy and pleasure are waiting for you.

But I’ll be honest. Sometimes what you find outside your comfort zone isn’t very easy.

Oh, the Horror

My husband and I had done five new-to-us sexual activities this year. One of them was nekkid pictures. Mostly, these involved close-up shots and one absolutely lovely picture of me in the shadows. Last week, my oral sex article was posted on The Marriage Bed. What better way to celebrate than oral sex, right? I pointed out to my husband that our digital camera had a video feature, and hey, wouldn’t that be a fun thing to watch afterward? It’s practically the same thing as the pictures we’ve already done. Right?

So we videotaped, which was New Thing #6. After we were done and put back together, I transferred the video from the camera to the computer so we could watch it together.

Oh, the horror. We both sat, jaws dropped, squirming (from embarrassment, not arousal) as we watched our bodies do what they do so well.

They say the camera adds ten pounds, but I’m pretty sure it must be at least fifty. At least.

My husband and I are both overweight. We know that. We are used to seeing each other’s large naked form. But sitting there together, each of us seeing our own naked bodies when our stomachs weren’t sucked in and we weren’t looking into a mirror from just the right angle? Ouch. We agreed to delete the video and never ever watch it again.

But it got me thinking about my body, which was already on my mind from some reading. I looked back at Pearl’s OysterBed’s recent post on fitness that is part of her 2013 Sex Drive Transformation Challenge. I was reading threads on a couple different online discussion forums about body image and health. I’ve been reading a handful of books on Christian marriage, and several of them talk about fitness and sex.

Coming on the tail end of all that reading, watching the video of me in my abundant nakedness certainly didn’t help. And then I was at the doctor (my raging UTI is back) and had to step on the scale. I did my usual “each of my shoes weighs fifteen pounds” joke, but even that didn’t prepare me for what I saw on the scale.

Several months ago, I wrote, “God plants. Right in front of me, He puts in place things I need to see, consider, remember, pray about, learn from.” Looking at the scale, I thought, Here we go again. Okay, God. You have my attention. Now what?

Dig, I hear. So I do.

The First Layer

How did my body get this way? Well, there’s the obvious—eating too much and exercising too little. As much as I’d love to lay my body’s shape on my pregnancies, the truth is that I was on this path before they were a twinkle in my husband’s eyes. In fact, I was on this path before I even met my husband.

And that heads right into the first layer I uncover. I was raped in college. I’d already developed a habit of being promiscuous, and one night I got drunk and was coming on to one of the guys at a party. I woke up to him inside me and me screaming. I passed out again and woke up in the morning to the same thing. I later asked him why he’d done it….his response was, “You had a good enough body and weren’t too fat.”

Having a good-enough-and-not-too-fat body was enough to get me raped, so it was time to change that. I remember a few times when my clothes would start to feel tight that I would think about getting more exercise, and I would flash back to that night. So I’d go get new clothes instead.

When I met my husband, I was much thinner than I am now, but I was not in good shape. He loved me anyway. The fact that he loved me despite how unattractive I thought I was told me that he either a) loved the real me, or b) didn’t have very good taste. And yes, that affected our marriage bed in various ways for years.

Working through this first layer involved me working through my rape and some of the ways it has affected me over the years. I realized that uch of this is work I’ve already begun to do. Although I still have some difficult moments, I no longer feel that the rape is front and center in my life as I once did. The first layer isn’t very substantial at all anymore.

But putting on the weight is just part of the story.

The Second Layer

Putting on weight was a protection against rape and being a temptation. Even as I grew comfortable and confident in my marriage and became less concerned about being raped again, I made no effort to lose my weight.

And this is the second layer I needed to work through. Underneath the weight was a part of me that doesn’t trust myself. While it is not my fault that I was raped, my behavior and appearance that night certainly didn’t help prevent it—and if I hadn’t been so promiscuous at that time in my life, I wouldn’t have dressed or acted the way I did.

As I began to see that I was healing from the rape itself, I also saw that my marriage wasn’t a happy one. I craved my husband’s emotional attention—and I worried that I might be vulnerable to temptation. If another man showed me any attention, would I be able to resist? Did I want to resist? What if that promiscuity that had caused me problems in college was still there, hidden under layers of fat? I was terrified I might learn that I was still that person. I couldn’t trust myself not to follow down the promiscuous path again. Instead of being afraid I might tempt someone else, I feared that someone might tempt me and that I was too weak to say “no.”

As I dug through this layer, I realized that I’d done much of this work already, too. My marriage is stronger than it’s ever been—and so am I.

The Inner Layer

Over the past few months, I have dug deep enough that I’ve gotten to the bright and shining person I am beneath all these layers. I am stronger now because I am with God in a way I never have been before.

I’ve done some hard work and dug deep inside myself. I can shed those outer layers of protection because I no longer need them.

And now I understand that I am ready to work on that physically as well as mentally and spiritually. I’m scared, because I know it will be hard. But I’ve worked hard before. I know I can do it again.

Strong Enough and Brave Enough

When you step outside your comfort zone, sometimes you discover a world of pleasure and joy. And sometimes, you discover yourself. Be brave enough to see what is there. Be strong enough to face what you learn. When you take a leap of faith and are brave enough and strong enough to tackle what you find there, hold onto God’s hand. It might not be easy, but with God at your side, you’ll be okay.

Cheesecake image courtesy of savit keawtavee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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11 Thoughts on “Layers and Layers and Layers

  1. I have no words to express my admiration for your courage and wisdom. God bless you, FW

  2. “Oh, the horror. We both sat, jaws dropped, squirming (from embarrassment, not arousal) as we watched our bodies do what they do so well.” On the lighter side, (and you are much braver than I about this part I might add) – there was this show I used to watch called Rules of Engagement and on this one particular episode one of the couples had video’d themselves and they got all ready to watch it and about 3 seconds into it they had that same expression that you just described in your post, finally both yelling (as they shielded their eyes) “turn if off! turn it off!”

    Hubby and I just tried something this very morning that didn’t pan out so well for us — but you know what they say, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained!”

    It takes a very strong woman to do the work of healing, you rock! Also, I came across a quote a few days ago, “It takes a strong man to handle a broken woman.” — it actually brought me to tears; my husband is indeed a very strong man. I’m guessing yours is too. Tell him kudos from a sister in Christ.

    • I think I saw that episode, although I’d forgotten all about it. I’ll pass the kudos on to my husband. He doesn’t seem to think I’m as broken as I think I am–and quite often, that’s exactly what I need.

      • trixie1466 on September 8, 2013 at 7:42 am said:

        I think your husband is a smart man. This morning I was thinking about how I too am a broken woman and then this came to me. Those that have given their heart to Jesus are no longer broken, we are all just in various stages of reconstruction. Sometimes during reconstruction things are knocked down and torn up and they appear very broken, but it’s just making way for the beautiful new construction.

        • userdand on September 9, 2013 at 9:44 am said:

          The minute we accept Christ and the Holy Spirit indwells us we’re all under repair. Some more willingly than others. Or so I’ve heard anyway. But I wouldn’t really know anything about resisting and rebellion. Say what? Still keeping me honest, Trixie? Full time job.

    • userdand on September 9, 2013 at 9:45 am said:

      Above @ Robyn of course.

  3. What stuck out to me in your ” Oh, the horror” statement was ” we watched or bodies do what they do so well”. That you can see that in the midst of ” the horror” is very telling of your progress.
    I have been reading your blog for some time now and have never commented before. Why, I don’t know. Maybe fear or embarrassment? You will never know the help you have given me. Every day I read your blog, it’s like your in my head because the topic will be exactly what I was struggling with. It is soo comforting to know I’m not alone. I was raised a preachers daughter and my mother was not comfortable with sensitive talks. So therefore the old don’t do it until you’re married was all I got. This blog and other Christian based blogs have been very helpful. You have an amazing way with words that you feel too your heart when you read them. Something I wish I was good at. Thank you again for opening your heart to all of us and helping me beyond measure! I can not describe what it has meant to me! Thank you! May God continue to bless you!

    • Welcome to the comments section of the blog, Kree! Now that you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone to comment, it will be easier for you to comment in the future.

      Every time I post, my prayer is that it is used to touch one heart. I am grateful to know you’ve been helped. Many of us struggle, and we can’t always see through the veneer of other people’s lives to know just how much we aren’t alone. I’m glad to know you’re on the journey of growth as well.


  4. Pingback: Learning to Stretch | The Forgiven Wife

  5. Thank you for this post. I can relate to the layers. I am working through layers I thought were already worked through, on a deep level.
    Your honesty reminded me the process to wholeness is ongoing, and is for the strong. If we’re working through it, we are strong enough to want our freedom regardless of the struggle.
    My husband recently made a joke that triggered me and made me aware of layers I’m working through with a trusted pastor. My process is ugly, yet beautiful. Your post reminded me of its beauty.

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