03 May 2010

Longing to Leave Leah

In the biblical story of sisters Rachel and Leah, I always empathized with Leah; I could understand from my own experiences how it felt to be passed over, considered 'unwanted' or the penultimate choice (if that high on the list...). My heart breaks for Leah as I read her story. Certainly I applaud the "happily ever after" resolution for Rachel and Jacob as any romantic would. I don't know what it's like to experience that "happily ever after" though--to have my heart's desire fulfilled. Rachel's barrenness--that I can relate to. But her joy and her dreams coming true? I have no idea how that feels.

This morning as I struggled with harrowing sorrow and hopelessness about situations in my life, I again thought of Leah--especially after serendipitously discovering that Whitney Johnson had posted several thoughts on her Dare to Dream blog about this very subject.

Whitney profoundly states:
The more I thought about this story, the more I realized that Rachel and Leah are archetypes for women today. Do we as women believe we are Rachel, the favored one, the one who gets to dream and see those dreams come true, or do we more often believe we are Leah, the sister who must settle for whatever is handed to her by circumstance or chance. Unfortunately, I think most of us see ourselves as Leah, and this attitude of acquiescence I have dubbed “the Leah complex.” "Rachel vs. Leah: Reclaiming our power to dream," posted 26 October 2006 (bold in the original post).
After reading this, I wanted to scream, "YES! Yes, Whitney, I understand! *I* believe I am a Leah--and *that* is what is keeping me from acting on my dreams (or allowing myself to dream at all)." I have been letting life dictate what happens to me; I thought that there was no other choice than to settle for whatever I received "by circumstance or chance." I have "the Leah complex"!

Now that I have a diagnosis, what can I do? Therefore...what? How do I rewire my brain to receive Rachel-like hope instead of the Satanic messages of inferiority, mediocrity, and worthlessness that bombard me everyday? How can I embrace what is good about Leah and combine that with the hope, assurance, confidence, and expectation of Rachel?

I don't have any answers yet.

However, I have identified the origin of the fear, thanks to more insight from Whitney:
By this time I’ve peeled back so many onion layers of excuses, I’m on the verge of tears, but ready to get to the real why. Which is: I don’t think it’s okay to ask for what I want. Asking for what I want can be almost unbearably uncomfortable; the more I want something, the greater the discomfort....Maybe it’s also because no matter how successful I become, I just can’t quite believe that I'm Rachel and that I can ask for what I want. No matter how far I’ve come, Leah’s still lurking inside me." "Leah leaves the building," posted 13 February 2007 (bold emphasis added).
I, too, "just can't quite believe that I'm Rachel and that I can ask for what I want." I want to be Rachel. When I allow myself moments to dream without limiting my thoughts with "reality," I dream like Rachel, I feel like Rachel, I believe like Rachel. But then the doubt returns...and I return to longing to leave Leah behind.  

Will I ever be liberated? Will I ever believe I can ask Heavenly Father (and others) for what I want, what I need, what will contribute to my happiness? Or will I continue to shudder in the corner, afraid to open my mouth, afraid of rejection, afraid of asking "too much"?

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