The following is an excerpt from Nicki Koziarz’s new study, Rachel & Leah. Order your copy or see a free sample today at LifeWay.com/RachelAndLeah. You can also pick up a copy at your local LifeWay Store. We’ve also included some fun, free downloads at the end of this post to celebrate this new study!
If you could have seen me last night, you probably would have laughed. I pretty much looked like an infomercial going to bed. On my nightstand was a pink rock, with promises of clearing the air. My feet were cradled in comfy, fuzzy socks, guaranteed to make all my flaky skin become soft again. I dabbed some essential oils behind my ears, with promises of giving me the deepest sleep possible. In my hair were soft-fabric rollers that came with the assurance of never having to blow dry my hair again. And on my face was a cream that promised to make all my wrinkles and sunspots disappear overnight, duh.
Oh yes, I’ve bought into all the beauty promises, my friends. Because who doesn’t want to believe that there’s something quick and easy we can do to make ourselves look and feel better?
Advertisers are on to us, ladies. It’s estimated that a woman will spend $15,000 on beauty products in her lifetime. And still every time we see a woman more beautiful than us there’s something inside that whispers, Why don’t you look like that?
But it’s not just the internal whispers. There’s an entire world telling us what we are and what we aren’t. And yes, we could just say to ourselves, don’t listen to them. But the comparisons are there whether we like it or not.
Today we’re going to see something in the Bible that I don’t love. Yes. That’s right. I said I don’t love something about the Bible. Well, it’s really something Moses, the author of Genesis, wrote.
Because, you guys, we’re going to read the words he wrote about this woman, and while they aren’t rude, they definitely are not kind.
Read Genesis 29:13-17.
Okay, so it’s not like Moses is pulling out the chant from an old 80’s football movie:
“U-G-L-Y! You ain’t got no alibi, you ugly, hey, hey … you ugly.”
But, he’s being very generous in the way he describes Rachel. Not so much with Leah. Rachel is described as shapely and beautiful. Leah is not.
Here’s another little not-so-amazing thing about these sisters. Rachel’s name means ewe, which is another word for a sheep. Leah’s name? Well, it means cow. I mean, if I was going to be named after an animal, I’m not sure I’d want it to be a cow. Now, before we go off on their parents, there’s more to this story.
Most parents spend a lot of time considering the name of their child. They want it to be something meaningful and important to them. Laban, the girls’ father, was a farmer, so animals were important to him. He was surrounded by them. They were part of his daily vocabulary.
But, still. Named after a cow? Mmm. I don’t know how Leah felt about that. Especially all those years she spent in her beautiful sister’s shadow.
If I were making a list of all the things women compare themselves over, I can assure you, looks would be at the top of that list. This is the first form of comparison we see in Rachel’s and Leah’s story. And of all places, in the Bible.
Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised. Proverbs 31:30
This verse is a gift to those of us struggling with feeling like we’ll never quite measure up with our looks. Because the reality is, someone will always be more beautiful than us. But God reveals to us something that lasts longer than a perfected face or body.
What does it mean to fear the Lord?
Why did I look like an infomercial last night? Because yes, I compare my looks too. I see women who are thinner. Their skin is flawless, and they always look so put together. I want that too. And I often believe the lie that if I could just use some “magical” product, with all of its promises, it would make me a better me. Then I wouldn’t compare anymore.
But most of the time those promise-filled products just leave me feeling like an item on the clearance rack—picked over.
I’m wondering what Rachel’s and Leah’s childhood was like. Was Rachel always described as the pretty one? Did Leah always feel less than her sister?
They weren’t waking up each morning with an instant, unwanted greeting from the mirror telling them how unlovely they looked that day. They weren’t spending hours and hours looking at their reflections trying to perfect that YouTube makeup-how-to tutorial, blow-drying, straightening and curling hair, or plucking eyebrows.
I imagine their getting ready process was very short and simple.
Go to the bathroom. (Because some female struggles are timeless.)
Put on clothes and sandals.
Splash some water on the face.
Tuck hair into shawl.
Can you imagine what they would think of our morning routines in this 21st century world we live in? Good grief.
Think through what a sisterly relationship is really like. What might have been some ways comparison showed up between Rachel and Leah before this point in their story?
That’s one of the tricky things about comparison. It can start sowing its seeds into a previous season of life—a season that doesn’t seem to relate to the current one. But then the seeds grow and grow, one day turning into a huge mess. For us. For someone else.
And ultimately affecting our assignment from God.
Want to learn more about this new study? Watch the short video below or view a free sample and teaching video clips at LifeWay.com/RachelAndLeah.
And here are some fun wallpapers for your computer and phone! Click the images or links below to download!