Feeling like Leah


Feeling like Leah

I have spent the last eight months of my life working as a waitress. This was not what I pictured doing after graduating college though. I have also spent this time listening to friends I graduated with talk about their new jobs, raises, and even promotions. As happy as I am for my friends, it has definitely been tough to sit and watch them have what I’m yearning for.

We've all been in situations like this. Times when we watch someone else get what we want. Maybe it’s seeing your crush with another girl, watching someone win an award you worked so hard for, or even something as simple as thinking a shirt you own looks so much better on that other girl. I call these “Leah moments.” Moments that test and make us question things simply because we feel unloved or unworthy.

I love the story of Rachel and Leah in the Bible. In fact, Leah has become one of my favorite biblical women. There are many times I relate to her, but I also love the journey she goes through during her life.

Rachel reminds me of the pretty and popular girl who is the life of the party. She's the girl everyone wants to be and the girl all the guys want. Even Jacob knew from the moment he first laid eyes on her that he wanted her to be his wife.

Then there’s Leah. Even though she was Rachel’s older sister, I can just picture her living her whole life in Rachel’s shadow. Quieter. Not as vivacious or stunning. Imagine how hard that must have been.

Living in Rachel’s shadow couldn't have been easy for Leah, but then things become worse when Laban decided to trick Jacob by marrying him off to Leah instead of Rachel (like he was originally promised). My heart breaks for Leah. Even though Leah marries Jacob, I cannot imagine it being a joyous wedding day for her. Imagine your husband looking at you in anger because you’re not your sister. Imagine one of the most important days of your life – one you've probably dreamed about from a young age – tainted by the fact that you are not the one your husband loves.

Not only was Leah married to a man who did not love her, she also had to later watch Jacob marry Rachel. As her story unfolded, Leah could not obtain the love from her husband that she so desperately wanted.

Even with Leah’s struggles, this is a beautiful story. God saw Leah’s pain and blessed her. Leah may have felt ignored by Jacob, but the Lord never ignored her. Yet, it took her a while to realize God’s love for her.

God’s plan for Leah was through her children.

“When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, He enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless.” –Genesis 29:31

The Lord not only gave Leah children because she was unloved by her husband, but also because He had big plans for her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.

Even though God has this grand plan for Leah, it took her a while to realize it. Even when she was in the middle of God’s plan, she was still focused on obtaining Jacob’s love and becoming his favorite instead of Rachel. It took Leah giving up control and admitting that God’s love is what she truly needed to reach the full potential of God’s plan for her.

The journey of Leah’s change of heart is apparent in the names of her children. With her first three sons, it is easy to see Leah was desperately seeking her husband’s love. She named her first son Reuben because she believed Jacob would love her now that God gave them a son; she named her second son Simeon because she believed God saw she was still unloved; and Levi’s name came from Leah’s belief that Jacob had no choice but to love her because she gave him three sons (Genesis 29:32-34). I cannot imagine the pain Leah went through with each son. Each time she bore a son she had this incredible hope that Jacob would finally love her. Each time though, her hopes were dashed.

The best part of this story is when Leah finally begins to take comfort in the Lord. With her fourth son, Judah, Leah said, “This time I will praise the Lord" (Genesis 29:35). This son of Leah’s – the son she praised the Lord for – plays a substantial role in bringing Christ into the world. Judah is the tribe from which King David descended, and eventually Jesus.

Leah had a few more children after Judah (and Rachel eventually had two sons of her own), but Judah was Leah’s turning point.

When she finally gave her loneliness, heartbreak, and feelings of unworthiness to God she became the matriarch of the line of Jesus.

Sisters, I wish I could tell you that you will never have a Leah moment in your life. I wish I could promise that you will never have moments of doubt, or feel unloved and worthless. Feeling like Leah is inevitable. These “Leah moments” do not define us though.

What defines us is which Leah we choose to be. Will you be the Leah who thinks she can control the situation and desperately seek approval? Or will you be the Leah who knows, even in tough times, that praising the Lord is the best option? I hope you choose to be the latter Leah because, as you can see, God is the one who loves you at your lowest, can mend your broken heart, and has a plan for you bigger than you can even imagine.

After all, Leah is proof that wonderful things can happen when you choose to praise the Lord in times of hardship. And that, sometimes, standing in someone else's shadow, playing second fiddle, or coming in last may be the best thing that could ever happen to you.

// image by sandra hagelstam