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When You're Uncomfortable in Your Own Skin

Originally published Monday, 28 October 2013.

“Do not stare at me...” Song of Solomon 1:6 

Solomon and his sweetheart were head-over-heels in love. However, despite their deep affection and attraction for each other, she still felt uncomfortable in his gaze. Lots of women feel self-conscious in this department. And quite honestly, as age catches up with the best of us, confidence-chasms can swallow up guys and gals alike. 

Our physiques change. Our expected responses to one another change. And the whole process can be a little less than comfortable, or confidence inspiring. Yet intimacy isn’t just a physical act. It’s a weaving of the hearts; the physical is merely the doorway. 

Yes, men and women approach intimacy differently and might place different importance on one aspect or another of the whole process. But good intimacy won’t begin and end with just a physical experience. It just starts with it. The Lord designed physical intimacy to be a melding of much more than just bodies. So if you are feeling less than runway model material, you can still be confident in the love you share with your husband. You can be confident in the joy that awaits you both in intimacy. You can be confident that the Lord has designed sex for your pleasure and the good of your marriage. 

When the Lord wired our brains, the process of engaging in sexual intimacy was meant to engage certain brain chemistry in us that induces strong emotion-forming bonds. That’s one reason why the Lord designed sex to be set apart for the life-long commitment of marriage only--so our hearts would be protected from damage brought on by forming bonds that are later broken. But this little scientific fact also supports a truth we can see in Scripture: sex is more than just a physical thing. It’s meant to make two into one. 

So if you are struggling with how you feel about your physical appearance, know that the Lord didn’t intend for your marital intimacy to hinge on appearances only. It is true that He wants you to take good care of your body. But don’t heap a ton of guilt on yourself over the whole thing. Remember sex was designed for more than just our flimsy frames. Focus on the spiritual truth that it engages the mind, heart and soul more than just the physical aspect of it.

If you are a woman who has suffered from sexual abuse, you might find confidence in your body’s appearance something utterly foreign to you. If you’re a woman who is struggling with some weight you’ve gained, you might be easily derailed from giving yourself joyfully and freely to your spouse because you don’t feel as pretty or as fit as you wish. If you have a health issue or are experiencing hormone changes, you might feel anxiety over your body’s cooperation. All these things threaten to rob us from being transparent with our husbands and free with them in this department. Ultimately, these wrong emphases will rob us from the emotional intimacy God designed us to have if we let them get in the way of our physical intimacy.

If you struggle with physical intimacy because of a “confidence” issue, pray over the following thoughts:

  • If you can have a discussion about your worries, try talking to your husband about them. Every time I’ve ever let my husband in on the doubt-filled internal dialogue that goes on in my head, he has sweetly wiped away those anxieties. They aren’t part of the picture for him, so they shouldn’t dominate the picture for me. 
  • Make sure your identity is rooted in how God sees you, not just the mirror or any of the other host of “definers” we allow into our lives. Click here for a set of little reminders about how God sees you.
  • Pray before you make love to your husband. Ask the Lord to show you how He designed intimacy to be. Invite His truth into your heart and into your love making.
  • Pray for the Lord to use your intimacy to fulfill His purposes. Proverbs 5 lays out some pretty racy language about husbands being satisfied with their wife’s body. Since praying Scripture draws our requests closer to God’s intention for us, I’m a firm believer in praying Scripture over every part of my life, including intimacy. So pray those verses over your interludes.

In all these things, know that our confidence rests in the Lord alone. Our husbands will let us down. We will let them down. And in regard to sexuality, as a culture we are very broken. So in our marriages, there is bound to be impasses of difficulty. We are human and frail. Any time we place our confidence in a person or thing other than Christ, we will be disappointed. We don’t need confidence in our most recent diet-flattened-bellies, gym-toned backends, or our husband’s responses to us. We need confidence in God alone. And confidence in Him will lead us to trust His design and pursue it with faith. He intended for sex to be a beautiful thing in our marriage. As we pursue His design, we will bump into our human nature from time-to-time. However, if we stay His course and trust His good intentions for us, our marriages will grow more and more into a union that reflects His love for us. 

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