Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I have a confession to make.
I have no idea how to be sexy.
Last night, after weeks of looking forward to a date night out for Valentine’s Day with my husband, I found myself standing in front of my closet crying. I had been looking forward with great anticipation to having an excuse to dress up and go out; and as I tried on dress after dress, I realized that most of them made me look one of two things: professional or cute. And there’s no part of a married woman who wants to go out on a big date night with her husband looking either professional or cute. And as I stood there in front of my closet, trying to explain to my husband why I was crying, I finally expressed something that’s been in my head for the past year or so: “It’s not that I never feel pretty. I often feel pretty. I just cannot honestly say that even once in my life I have ever felt sexy, and one day, I want to feel that.” I ended up throwing up my hands and going out to dinner in jeans.
Why is this such a big deal? Because I truly believe it’s a HUGE part of a woman’s heart, especially a married woman. We know we’re sexual creatures; we know that God created that portion of us as much as He created the part of us that can go to work and take care of business, as much as he created the part of us that can sit with a friend in our pajamas for hours over good coffee and better conversation. And yet…how do we access that part of ourselves in a way that’s appropriate? How do we compete with women who are not afraid to bare all in private and most in public? How do we guard our poor husbands by not making him feel like every woman in the world is uninhibited in their sexuality EXCEPT his wife.
I feel like this issue has been exacerbated for centuries in the Christian world by our inability to reconcile the sexual with the Godly. I think women, once married, find themselves unable to turn off the voices in their heads that have played for years and endless litany of, “Don’t be sexy. Don’t be sexual. Don’t even be too beautiful. It’s a stumbling block to the men around you. You don’t need to be pretty. It’s kind of superficial, actually. Be a servant. Be kind and thoughtful and a good person, but by all means…don’t be sexy.”
And suddenly, the ring goes on the finger and we’re supposed to know exactly how to flip the switch. After years of focusing on not being sexy, on being pure and chaste, we have a hard time reconciling that with this new idea that suddenly…sexuality is the among the purest things God ever designed within us.
And please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that now, as a married woman, I want to wander around flaunting myself and creating an image with such intensity that it causes the men around me to stumble. Believe me, I don’t want that. I have a husband, and I have talked with him about how hard it is for even the happiest of married men to turn a blind eye upon women who who put every ounce of their sexuality on display.
But years of well-meaning people reminding me to never be overtly sexual, but never telling me what it means to be a sexual woman in an appropriate marital context have left me frustrated…I don’t even know how to be that behind closed doors.
Which begs the question…where is the balance? How do we raise our daughters to know the value of sexuality without teaching them that it’s their biggest asset, and it’s to be flaunted for all their worth? And how do we teach married women how to be a lady in the streets but a fiercely sexual woman behind closed doors? How do we address the fact that sexuality is an INTENSELY necessary part of a marriage? How do we protect our husbands and our marriages from the blatant sexuality that lurks just outside our front door, ready to make his life a living hell of temptation?
Right now, I’d like to sit down and have a conversation with Jesus about what it means to be sexy as a woman created in God’s image and attempting to bear that image. I think he’d have that conversation with me, gladly. And I sure wish the church felt the same way. I wish they’d felt the same way when I was seventeen.