Monday, August 7, 2017

Before You Meet Prince Charming: Chapter Nine - Part Four

We have reached the climax anecdote for the chapter entitled "Dreams Must Die".  I think the point that Ms. Mally has been trying to make is that Christians must be willing to sacrifice all of their wishes, wants and desires to follow Christ.  Due to her choice of stories, the point she has made so far is that if Christians offer to sacrifice their dreams to Jesus, their dreams will come true in ways that are superior to what they hope for.

Let's see what lessons await in the last story of the chapter.

Shattered Dreams

A confused 21 year old girl thought frequently about the man she loved. But did he love her? They dated for three years. He asked her to marry him. She had joyfully agreed. The wedding date was set -- and then -- her dreams were shattered. He had changed his mind. Or at least he had changed his mind for the time being. He said that he still loved her, but he wasn't ready to get married. He postponed the wedding. Worst of all, he postponed it indefinitely! She had no idea when he would actually decide --if ever! She might be waiting for the rest of her life. (pg. 175)
  • In my family, this girl would be viewed as having received a "get out of jail free!" card.  Having an engagement broken off is heart-breaking in the short term, but marrying someone who is that immature, unstable and/or callous towards their responsibilities is far worse.  The man in this relationship leaves the woman he supposedly loved with having to rescind all of the wedding plans completed so far plus deal with the social ramifications.  
  • From my view, the most problematic portion of this story is that the relationship has been thrown into a nebulous state where the guy has all the power.  The guy decides when and if they get married.  There is no discussion of what obligations that the man needs to honor. Is he paying for deposits that have been made already?  Does he need to explain that he called off the wedding to their friends?  Does the guy care about the emotional turmoil he's caused in his fiancee's life because he didn't have his shit in order before getting engaged?  Is he seeking counseling?
  • The woman is setting up a horrible precedent for her life.  Actions have consequences and breaking off an engagement should have immediate consequences in a relationship.  I suspect that the guy broke off the engagement at least in part because he knew he could without any personal consequences.   After all, the woman is apparently willing to wait forever for him to be ready after he ruptured their relationship soon after promising to make the relationship permanent!  I don't know if I would ever be willing to restart a relationship after such an embarrassing and hurtful event - but I know that I would refuse to have any relationship with the guy for at least a year and would require extensive individual and couple counseling before moving forward in the relationship again.
  • The only person who can make the woman wait for the rest of her life is herself.  Even if they were married, she's the only person who can force herself to endure the status quo indefinitely.
With embarrassment, this young woman called off her wedding plans. Then she wondered what she should do next. She couldn't just sit around waiting for him to decide, so she took a job teaching at a Christian school. She left him in Indiana, took off her engagement ring, and moved to Florida. As the months went by, the waiting got harder. She was still in love, but was her love returned? She wasn't sure.

As she continued to struggle, she finally realized that she couldn't go through the rest of her life like this --just waiting, wondering, and worrying. One evening she got down on her knees and began to pray. With tears she surrendered her dreams, her future, and this young man to the Lord. She purposed to trust the Lord's plan no matter what and to say, " not my will, but Thine be done. " (pg. 175)
  • Getting a job is a good starting point for getting over a guy.  Long-distance moving isn't a requirement, but moving that far from her family is pretty radical in CP/QF life so good for her.  Meeting new people and exploring a new state can help her get a fresh perspective on her relationship and what she wants out of life.
  • Keeping a candle burning for her former fiance isn't a good idea.  The reality is that when she trusted him he hurt her badly for some unspecified reason.  Feelings of attachment or love to another person is a horrible way to determine if a relationship should continue when the other person has proven untrustworthy.  As the vast majority of adults can attest, deep feelings of attachment or love can continue after a relationship has been irrevocably broken.  
  • This is a good example of a dream that should die.  She had dreams of a life with him; no matter what happens next, those dreams should not happen unless both he and she are willing to do a lot of emotional work.  The most healthy outcome would be to mourn the loss of her dreams about life with him and move on to the next adventure in life.
  • This is also a great example of enabler mentality.  Exactly how much time and energy has she been using in Florida on helping her ex-fiance?  Are they talking regularly?  Is she trying to help him fix himself?  Is she merely dreaming about him and his future all the time?  It has been months!
She stood up and just a few minutes later the phone rang. It was him!!! He decided to get married at last. The plans were made. The wedding day arrived. They said, " I do." Eventually they had a baby -- ME! It wasn't until my mother surrendered to the Lord her desire to marry that he answered her prayers and gave her the godly husband she had longed for. (pgs. 175-176)
  • Ms. Mally expects us to be heartened by the end of the story - but I feel sick.  There is nothing in this relationship that seems healthy.
  • CP/QF culture hates adolescence and has attempted to argue that teenage rebellion is a recent cultural invention.  Teenage rebellion serves many purposes including realizing that parents are flawed, imperfect human beings just like everyone else.  Sarah's Mally's retelling of this story shows that she has never accepted the humanity of her parents.  Her father acts like a selfish, impulsive and hurtful jackass in this story.  Her mother allows his actions without enforcing any consequences.  Instead of reflecting on the reality that everyone has flaws, she repackages the story as a divine blessing in response to a ritualistic prayer of her mother's. 
  • A divine blessing from a mean, mean God, actually.  Let's run through this alleged divine blessing step-by-step to watch God mess with Rebekah for no real reason.
    • Harold Mally and Rebekah Maiden_Name fall in love, date for three years and get engaged.
    • God decides that Rebekah's dreams for the future with Harold are problematic - in spite of the fact that she's got a public declaration of his intent to marry her and a date for the wedding set.
    • God causes Harold to panic and change his mind about getting married.  Harold breaks of the engagement while keeping the door open to get married at some point in the future...under divine inspiration, I guess.  
    • Rebekah goes through the process of canceling their wedding, gets a job out-of-state and teaches there for multiple months while Harold.....does something....but not communicating with Rebekah.
    • Months later, Rebekah gives up her dreams involving Harold.  God is pleased with this development and decides to reward Rebekah.  God gathers up Harold who is....doing something somewhere ... and convinces him to marry Rebekah.   Since God works instantly, Harold calls Rebekah and lets her know the marriage is back on!
  • Sarah needs to have a sit-down, adult talk with her father because there are some serious questions this engagement story that deserve answers.  Why did her father break off his engagement?  After all, Harold Mally asked Rebekah to marry him.  She didn't chase him; he chased her.  How does he justify the public embarrassment he exposed her to by breaking an engagement that had a set wedding date?  What right did he have to ask her to marry him again?  This would be a good discussion in most families, but takes on greater importance in her family: Harold Mally is supposed to be the wise man who will prevent Sarah's heart from being broken by a jerk.   How much of his "Emo-Pure" crap that he's raised Sarah in is an attempt to hide his own faults?  
I taught high school in part because I found the hero worship of younger children for teachers to be disconcerting.  Teenagers would put me through my paces before trusting me - and I was willing to take the time to prove that I was trustworthy.  Seeing your children question your integrity and beliefs is hard - but real parents know that without that painful time their relationship will never grow into an adult relationship.  I hope most parents in CP/QF are merely trying to avoid that pain; it's foolish and harmful but understandable.  I worry, though, that some parents want to keep their children in that state of innocence because the parents know that their actions will not stand up to adult criticism.

3 comments:

  1. So, make a show about how you've given up, and you will get the thing you've "given up" on. Sounds like magical thinking to me.

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  2. Hi, I just wanted to thank you for this series! I was given this book as a ten year old and read it cover-to-cover more than once... I don't remember exactly who gave it to me, but I'm fairly sure they didn't bother reading it before passing it on. In hindsight, it's the root of a lot of twisted thoughts that I'm still fighting as an adult, but I didn't realize just how much damage it had done until reading through your series. Thank you! ...and i'm sorry this is so stiff, I do really mean it :\

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