Sometimes I’m Leah and sometimes I’m Rachel. Sometimes I soar confidently, secure in my position and exhilarated by life. Sometimes I sink in a mire of insecurity and doubt. Sometimes I feel wrapped in layers of love, but other times I chase love like a never-ending marathon. Sometimes I am content, other times never satisfied.
Every woman has opposing sides, and they are at war.
“Jacob…loved Rachel more than Leah” (Genesis 29:30 NKJV).
Jacob fell hard and fast for the lovely Rachel. Her beauty and figure got his attention immediately. But their love story quickly turned sour and dysfunctional.
Laban, the sisters’ father, substituted the older Leah for the younger Rachel on the night Jacob and Rachel’s marriage was to be consummated. In my culture and world, I cannot imagine how such deception took place. It’s like not failing to check a baby’s wristband in a hospital and taking home the wrong one. Apparently Jacob didn’t think to lift his bride’s veil. The wedding night turned into a morning of shock and despair, the wrong woman in his bed. Jacob and Rachel, the star-studded lovers now facing a delay at Laban’s hand, must have been devastated.
But oh my, to be Leah, the swapped bride, was by far more tragic. For Leah was rejected. Rachel was chosen.
It’s a two-sided coin, and each of us have known both sides.
Jacob’s scorn, anger, and disappointment poured over Leah. Rachel’s pain was a poisonous mixture. Everyone must have been miserable. And literally, Leah was hated. “The Lord saw that Leah was unloved,” (Genesis 29:31 NKJV).
Sometimes I feel like Leah, and sometimes I feel like Rachel. Full or empty. Loved or unloved. Accepted or despised. Chosen or rejected. And the pattern repeats in various ways and in different circumstances. My plaintive cry of unquenchable need is aimed toward a person or a situation.
At times I do the same thing in my spiritual walk. Like Leah, I wrestle with Christ’s love for me. I work to be better and I strive to be accepted, like a gerbil running on a never-ending wheel. I search to merit what I cannot.
God’s Word pulls me back into Jesus’s embrace and wraps me with truth. “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love…to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:4–6 NKJV).
Leah worked hard for approval. She craved her husband’s love. But Rachel, despite her position of chosen one, despite her hold on Jacob, had profound needs as well. Envious of her sister, her desires robbed her joy and made her feel less than a woman. Rachel’s discontent spilled over onto her marriage with Jacob. Because suffering has no measuring stick and Rachel’s pain dug deep, she accused him of not giving her what she needed. But he was charged with responsibility for a problem he couldn’t solve. “Am I in the place of God?” Jacob asked in his anger (Genesis 30:2 NKJV).
We are complex, like a tangled web spun by the rivalry of two women for one man. We confuse strong emotion and truth. When we lay responsibility for unmet yearnings onto another, it drives a wedge deep and difficult to mend into the very places of our longings. Instead of satisfaction, we find greater despair.
God alone is sovereign. He was present in Rachel, Jacob, and Leah’s triangle, and he is always present in our messes. Our empty spaces beg for his filling. Our nagging insecurities are resolved only in Jesus.
Rivalry is within the heart of every woman. But Jesus has already paid our bride price.
Open the spaces in your heart. He will fill them.
Photograph © Sam Manns, used with permission