14 February 2013

in which I am not as cynical as might be expected

The Golden Knight and His Lady by Daniel Eskridge
It seems that modern teenage girlhood involves, to some degree, falling for the latest “it” boy. Whatever the decade, you've got your Justin Timberlakes or your Justin Biebers, with the accompanying fangirls screaming and throwing their shirts onto the stage. Sometimes I'm tempted to dig a hole and hide my daughter in it once she hits ten years old.

Then, comfortingly, I remember that I mostly managed to escape this stupidity.

Except for my Orlando Bloom phase.

(I don't want to talk about it.)

Anyway, I gather that One Direction is one of the hot new things right now. As a woman far, far out of their target demographic, I don't get the draw. (But I have seen posters that say things like “Perfect boys only exist in One Direction.” Ooookay?) Also, being an old fogey, I'd never even heard one of their songs till this morning.

Every so often I do an official investigation of American culture that consists of listening to the local pop music station, and when I turned it on today, I heard this:

Well then. If these are typical One Direction lyrics, I think I just understood the appeal. In sum: You are beautiful even when you think you aren't. I am so crazy about you that any other girl fades in comparison. That's the peanut butter to any woman's jelly, let alone the insecure, emotional, zit-popping teenagers at a One Direction concert. He likes me! He doesn't want to take advantage of me or turn me into something else! He finds me valuable and beautiful just like this, and he wants to be with me!

If I heard assurances like this coming out of the mouth of a cute boy with a bright smile and great hair, hello, I would want to believe it too.

And . . . you know, there's nothing wrong with that. While it can be tempting to respond to boy band idolatry with cynicism (often dressed up as “realism”) I hardly find it helpful, and it's certainly not realistic: “Haha, you dumb teenagers, you should never believe a boy when he says that! Love never gives you warm fuzzies and you'll never feel as beautiful as the songs promise you will!” No, no, no. I refuse to say such discouraging things to a younger woman. Because guess what? I do believe my husband when he tells me that he loves me. It does produce a lot of warm fuzzies. I do feel incredibly beautiful around him. Sappy songs like this tap into a lovely reality. They may twist it, they may leave out all the hard parts . . . but love is very real and very sweet.

While I do not want my daughter to obsess over the members of some random music group-- boys who couldn't care less about her at the end of the day-- there is nothing wrong with longing to find a man who will be committed to her, praise her, and make her feel cherished. I'm certainly going to be praying that she finds that kind of man! Sure, he's going to leave his socks on the floor, forget to call her, and say stupid things when he's tired. He's going to make bad decisions, and eat the chicken she was saving for tomorrow night's dinner. But that is because he'll be human, not because every romantic ideal in the world rings hollow.

So. Yay love. Perfect boys don't exist (not even in One Direction), but love is a wondrous gift from God, and even in the middle of a messed-up sinful world, we find it gracing our lives.
Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm,
for love is strong as death,
jealousy is fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
the very flame of the Lord.
-from the Song of Solomon
(Ironically, I'm not a Valentine's Day fan. I have nothing against those of you who enjoy it, but I resent the social pressure placed on men to buy roses and take their ladies out to a fancy dinner, for no other reason than that Hallmark decided to make a big whooping deal out of it. Grump grump grump.)


  1. So true -- some of the sap does "tap into a lovely reality." well said!

    Plus, they are so catchy that I totally belt it out in the car. No shame.

  2. Jonathan Taylor Thomas. JTT. My middle school crush.
    And I agree about Valentine's day...but I think my views have changed a little...and by that I mean that my heart goes pitter patter when Alex goes out of his way to bring home a flower or a cookie. This year I felt a bit resentful that the rest of the world makes such a big deal out of the day (especially because I teach middle school and they can make it STUPID)...and then came home to a flower. "Resentful" isn't an attitude I want to have any day and thankfully the husband reminds me of that by showing love in different ways than normal.
    So I think this year, I'm a bit thankful for Valentines day. :)

  3. Dear Short One,

    You have concisely said many things that have lingered on the tip of my tongue when I hear different songs, or listen to people as they discuss love (how much they are in love or how much they no longer love their husband or boyfriend). It is quite difficult to enter into these conversations because I feel as though I am fighting the entirety of culture (Pop or otherwise) itself and not merely talking to the person in front of me. Granted, I understand where they are coming from, I too had culture to fight as I was growing up (I too had an Orlando Bloom phase). I had to shift through all the information I was bombarded with concerning definitions of "the best" teen lifestyle or how one goes about "dating". I still fight culture as it continues it's pursuit to conform me to its "idea of love or marriage" (I echo your grumpiness for valentines day) as the sinful Adam wells up in me to nag at my spirit and nurture or place doubt, despair, or depression. I thank God that this is not the permanent state that I have to stay in that I am continually forgiven and washed clean through the blood of Christ Jesus. Thanks be to God for Baptism, The Lord's Supper, Forgiveness of sins, God's love, and Grace. It was with these truths and on this foundation I was/am able to fall back onto as a stronghold and use as tools of discernment.

    You'd probably end up unhappy with yourself if you surrounded your child with a bubble separating them from the entire world aka placing them in a hole in the ground. You also might not like the repercussions of rebellion or shock as she enters the world in college or when she moves out (sorry about the fast forwarding your babe who has yet to breathe the air outside of the womb). As nice as protecting them from the world sounds (I too have thought of isolation of my future children), I think of the fact that we are supposed "to be in the world but not of the world". We are also (as parents) supposed to be raising our children to go off on their own and start families and live lives (disclaimer-This is a very short and a not all inclusive definition of what parents are to do). It is the education of truth as revealed in the Bible that will help with his/her (because, I of course, expect you to have more children :-D ) discernment in this crazy world.
    "Train a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it" Prov. 22:6

    I'm sure I'm just preaching to the choir, but your post really struck a cord. :-)

    Under His mercy,
    Tall One
    (Rebekah Christiansen)

    p.s. I'm praying for you and your growing family. :-)