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Searching for the Softer Side of God – Part 1

Searching for the Softer Side of God - Part 1My mom spent most of her career as a sales clerk at Sears, Roebuck and Co., so we not only had stock in Sears, but we also had Kenmore appliances throughout the kitchen and laundry room, and Toughskins jeans in our closets.

So I clearly remember when Sears introduced a new marketing campaign with the slogan “Come See the Softer Side of Sears.” They wanted to make consumers aware that they weren’t just about Craftsman tools and DieHard batteries, but also little black dresses, sleek heels to go with those dresses, and jewelry and purses as well. Sears wasn’t just a “man’s store,” but a place where both men and women could shop for whatever they needed.

I’d like to start a similar campaign, with the slogan “Come See the Softer Side of God!”  We’ve grown up knowing that God is great at fighting battles and slaying enemies and all sorts of hard, “manly” tasks, but do we recognize that He’s equally good at being “soft?” Can we sense God scooping us up to take comfort in His lap, or gently brushing our tears away, or enveloping us in a warm embrace?

Unfortunately, we often equate softness exclusively with femininity, and since our God-paradigm is usually so masculine, it’s hard to fathom God being the feminine nurturer we often crave. So what do we do when we (falsely) assume that God doesn’t possess the softness that we crave? We naturally gravitate in the only direction we know to look — toward humans — in the only way we know how — sexually.

You’d have to be hiding under a rock not to notice how much our culture idolizes the female body especially. I’m not saying that there’s nothing sexy about the male physique, but most men acknowledge that their bodies pale in comparison to that of women’s. Without women willing to take their clothes off, the porn industry would fold. We’ve elevated the image of “the sexy woman” (think Marilyn Monroe, Beyonce Knowles, and Kate Upton) to “goddess” status, and society bows down to that image (and many others like them) with their time, attention, money, and sexual energies.

And there appears to be something that magically draws men (and women) in the direction of the sensuous female image. I believe there are two reasons for this supernatural pull: our longing for connection with the softer side of humanity, and our longing for connection with the softer side of God.

(to be continued…)

Excerpted from The Fantasy Fallacy: Exposing the Deeper Meaning Behind Sexual Thoughts  by Shannon Ethridge. Copyright 2012.  All Rights Reserved. Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN. Used by Permission. Not to be copied without Publisher’s prior written approval.

A Message for Every Woman

A MESSAGE FOR EVERY WOMANIn the spring of 2007, I spoke in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada at an intergenerational sexuality conference where women gathered at one location, and men gathered at a nearby venue.  On Saturday afternoon, the male speaker and I switched places, allowing me the opportunity to address the men for one session.  As I was leaving the building to return to the women’s conference, one tall man with a weathered complexion and a worried look on his face asked if he could have one moment of my time.

“When you go back to speak to the ladies, will you deliver a message to all of them, my wife especially?” he asked.

“Sure.  What’s on your heart?” I asked. He replied, “Please tell them that they don’t have to be modest.”

Suddenly his eyes filled with tears, and he explained, “I’ve been trying to tell my wife for eighteen years that she’s beautiful, but she won’t believe me.  She makes me feel like I must be crazy to think she’s sexy, and sometimes I’m tempted to just believe her.  But I refuse to do that.  I want HER to believe ME instead. I know what I see when I look at her.  I just want her to feel the same way about herself.”

I fought back my own tears as I sensed this man’s gnawing pain and growing frustration.  As I delivered that message to the women in the next session, I sensed that every female in the crowd wondered if it was from her own husband.  Every woman seemed to acknowledge her own guilt in this matter.  We’ve all questioned our own sexual attractiveness, and questioned our husband’s sanity if he disagreed with our negative assessment.  This breaks my heart.

 We must remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and in a marriage relationship, there are two sets of eyes beholding your naked body – your husband’s and your own.  Joy comes from knowing that the two of you are seeing the exact same thing – a beautiful, sexually confident woman – a woman whose inner attitudes about herself carry far more weight than any external factor.

Excerpted from  The Sexually Confident Wife: Connecting with Your Husband Mind*Body*Heart*Spirit  by Shannon Ethridge. Copyright 2008.  All Rights Reserved. Published by Random House Inc, New York, NY. Used by Permission. Not to be copied without Publisher’s prior written approval.