We’re Not Belle– or Wonder Woman

“True, that he’s no Prince Charming, but there’s something in him that I simply didn’t see.”  ~Belle, Beauty and the Beast

“Jamie has faith in me. She makes me want to be different, better.” ~Landon Carter, A Walk to Remember

Behind every little girl exists a fairytale heart.  Girls exist in all sorts of extremes in this area, but I don’t think I’ve ever met a little girl whose eyes don’t light up at the thought of being a princess.

I am a self-proclaimed princess wannabe.  I spent a large portion of my earlier childhood playing dress-up with sparkly clothes and went to church wearing a tiara until I was 7.  Then, when those antics were no longer socially acceptable, I turned to reading books about English royal history, turning over in my head what it would be like to be a real live princess of England in the days of the Tudor monarchy.  And then my junior year of high school, I was the only adult-ish female present not chaperoning a young girl at the Princess Party on a Disney cruise.  I’m actually obsessed.

Anyways, princess confessions aside, although I find this princess desire common to most females generally a good thing, I have grown to realize its many dark angles.

My own life has exhibited one of these dark angles clearly– and I never even noticed it until just recently.

Why do we love the story of Beauty and the Beast so dearly?  Of all the Disney Princess movies, this one will always stick out to the Western world as being timeless and just perfect.

I have a hypothesis about this: I believe we are so chronically enchanted by this story because we women want to change “him”– whoever that may be.

The Beast is so horrible and repulsive, and yet Belle is able to soften his angry and selfish heart.  All she has to do is enter his life, and she pierces through his harsh exterior, eventually transforming him into a handsome prince– the man he was “always meant to be.”

Sound familiar?

“He’s an amazing man, deep down.  I just need him to show it more.”

“I know he has his problems, but he’s actually a good guy.”

“I know I can change him.”

Women utter these statements so frequently.  We all seem to think we can be a combination of Belle and Wonder Woman and extract that amazing man from his scuffed package.  We watch more “real-life” movies like A Walk to Remember and see how just Jamie’s very existence makes Landon want to be a better person and believe that we, too, can motivate a man to be better just by being our lovely selves.

And then, because we are in real real-life, he doesn’t change.

He still drinks heavily or still has his addictions or still won’t focus on his faith.  Perhaps, he exhibits a temporary life change that gives us a false sense of hope, and then he resorts back to his old self.  It was all transitory in the end.

I think every woman has this instinctual urge to fix that which we see that is broken– and this is actually such a beautiful thing.  We want to spread our beauty throughout the whole world and throw flower petals to everyone who will catch them.  We believe enough in our ability to be the valiant warrior princess and get our hearts ripped out in the process.

We fail at changing him, and then we tell ourselves, “I wasn’t enough.”

And then this becomes a source of major shame.

But what if he was never yours to fix?

I’ve been quite introspective lately, and I have realized that I am the epitome of someone with a chronic “saving complex.”  It took my pastor at school telling me this to actually realize that I am becoming the woman my mom always warned me not to be– the idealistic woman who will never give up on him.  The woman with an absent or even abusive husband trying to raise three kids while he still sorts through his demons.  Since my pastor pointed this out about me, I have realized that I have been this way with so many guys, whether they were friends or more to me.  And then I walk away feeling dejected and with a scar of “you weren’t enough” carved into my brain matter.

Tonight, I read a bit of a book I read two summers ago, and I came across a portion of a sentence that I actually have memorized.  It used to be written on a notecard and placed on my desk.  Clearly, I stopped taking it to heart, as it reads:

“Just because something breaks, or comes to you broken already, doesn’t always mean you should script yourself an invitation to go on and fix it.” ~Hannah Brencher Sheats, If You Find This Letter (pg. 144) [emphasis added]

When Eve fell in the Garden, she encoded in our spiritual DNA the tendency to sin in the areas where we possess the most good.  As women, we have so much to offer the world– and so much that is unique to being a woman.  Our desire to fix him and spread our beauty throughout all of creation is such a magnificent desire– but what if we extend ourselves an invitation to fulfill this desire in areas in which God has purposefully not sent us one.

Ultimately, you nor I cannot save him– only GOD can.  No matter how perfect and enchanting we are, we cannot be Belle.  We cannot be Jamie.  We cannot even forgo the sweet approach in favor of the Wonder Woman alpha-girl style of saving the day.  We will fall flat on our faces in failure every time.

So maybe we need to end up staring straight at the concrete with scrapes on our elbows and knees a few times before we stop inviting ourselves to save the day.

After all, it’s God’s job to save him, not our’s.

I’ve committed to taking a step back every time I’m tempted to swoop in and save the day.  If he’s a friend, he’s not mine to worry about.  If he’s more than that, he shouldn’t be more than that.  Even if he tells me he needs me by his side to change, how can I in good conscience allow myself to get in God’s way of saving him by trying to do it myself?

Like I said before, I’m a chronic saver, so this is going to take some major self-control and probably a lot of tears.  I’m re-training my brain to believe the truth– that his choices are 100% his and I have not business trying to change them.

But, in the end, it’s not my fault.  It’s not my responsibility.

We aren’t meant to be Belle.  We are meant to be Cinderella– to find our Prince Charming who is already all he is meant to be.

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Writing Indicted Me

If you’re reading this for a snippet of talk about God or a good read, stop right now.

I want to write right now, but I can’t.

My head is pounding, my eyelids puffed up, and every time I eat my body treats the food like a foreign substance.

Yet, I know I need to write.  Writing has been my outlet for processing for many years now.  It translates the throbbing thoughts of my brain into clear, tangible reality– reality that I can address, that I can do something about.

I know something is very different, though, when it takes me 3 minutes to write one single, easily-constructed sentence– and it still uses passive voice.  Is it possible that I am too far gone for even writing to help?

Life changes a lot in a week, huh?  I always used to say that to myself, but I am still surprised when it happens.  Maybe I can find hope that this will all change in a week.  It’s not true, though.

One of my roommates said to me today, “The old Annika would be absolutely dying right now.  You must finally realize that you deserve better.”

I am dying right now– I’m just hiding it better.  I laid in bed for an hour this morning trying to get myself to stand up (luckily, I woke up before my alarm, so it didn’t matter).  I’m not ok–  I’m just not externally dying.

The saddest part of this is it was my words that indicted me.  Me just trying to process the normal turmoil that pulses through my INTJ brain became evidence against me.

None of this writing is coherent, but I need to stop writing.  It’s not helping.

 

Today’s a Good Day for Sunsets

sunset

Today is one of those days that I walk around in a daze thinking about just about anything and everything you could imagine while simultaneously pondering absolutely nothing.  Yes, that made no sense.  Welcome to the world of an INTJ brain.  Days like this refresh me by catapulting me away from daily worries like homework and getting the “W” next weekend to seal us as the #5 seed in the NSIC conference tournament.  They throw me into a world in which I’m not a college volleyball player or a student-athlete (that’s classic NCAA lingo for you) and rather just an average 18-year-old woman whose life revolves around something other than a constant, unrelenting pursuit of excellence in one transitory area of this futile life.

Okay, not to say that I don’t love my life here.  Don’t think for a second that I would ever trade the privileges I have for just about anything (although ending sex trafficking might be worth it), but days like this give me the opportunity to breathe in what it means to have a blissful life which possesses more than one axis of rotation.

Sometimes, these days occur on the day of a huge exam or a match we HAVE to win (although, to be real here, we HAVE to win every match).  When that happens, these days pile on the stress because I can’t let my brain loose from the electrical fence-bound pasture of school and volleyball.  I see a sunset just beyond the sizzling wire, but running through it would mean leaving behind grass that needs grazing in order to grow.

And my job is to graze that grass.  It’s what I’m called to in this era of my life, so I have to ignore the beauty and chew on.

But today is Sunday.  Sundays equal no volleyball and only as much homework as I need to do in order to feel “set” for the week.  Considering I had 22 hours of bus rides in the last week to crank out pesky homework, today was the perfect day to notice the sunset and frolic through the fields beyond my fenced-in pasture.

Well, if it shows the state my brain is in right now, my structured life was not what this blog was supposed to be about when I started.  But, on days like today, why not take the random path that my neurons provide me with?

An “IN” Goes to College

Christ is ENOUGH

Well, I’ve decided to return to the universe of blogging (although one might note that I never really was a part of it, unless you count my 3 posts on this blog that I did nothing with and that killer blog I was required to write for Bible class senior year). I’m sitting at a crossroads of my life right now, in desperate, lonely limbo.

What a perfect time to find solace in electronic media.

I suppose I am living out a classic moment of life in America: beginning college. I’m caught in the shocks of moving to a new place (from a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota, to a small town in South Dakota), making new friends (after having the same friends for 7 years), and suddenly having the weight of the expectations on my shoulders that come with having a volleyball scholarship.

Yes, I may have scored 98% Introvert on the Myers-Briggs personality test, but that does not mean that I do not crave communion with people. And I don’t just mean sitting around and chatting about nothing, but really TALKING to people. Like about our life story. Our background. Our hopes and dreams. Our love for the LORD.

Well, that isn’t going to happen automatically in college. That’s something that I must work towards. I must BUILD relationships again. I have to start from the bottom up.

Yet I am verbalizing the woes of nearly every person who begins college. Why do I feel as though I am alone in my alone-ness?

Maybe it has to do with my rare “IN” personality type (sorry for going all Myers-Briggs again, but, for real, this test practically described my life story, so I’ve got to give it some credit), which contributes to my need for constant DEPTH with people. Or maybe it’s how collaborative my faith walk has been thus far.

I suppose I can only speculate.

But, in my doubt this morning (another “IN” thing: we over think EVERYTHING and subsequently put ourselves into tizzies over nothing), the LORD reminded me of this: “The righteous has ENOUGH to SATISFY his appetite” (Proverbs 13:25a).

Isn’t that the core of the problem? Isn’t it that I’m not “satisfied” here yet (although, good grief, I’ve been here less than 48 hours)?

But of course I’m not satisfied if I’m not seeking the LORD every single moment that I doubt. That I wonder why I’m here. That I wonder how I handle not seeing my best friend until December. That I wonder how I will survive a whole month before I am reunited with my little brother again.

GOD doesn’t promise that life will be hard– especially the transitions. I’m experiencing one of the hardest, most drastic transitions that will ever occur in my life (although moving to Morocco to become a medical missionary will definitely top this). But where will I run in the midst of all this?

CHRIST IS ENOUGH. I can only be filled in HIM. Therefore, LORD, I run to you today.