Relational longings are observed even in little girls. Several years ago, while spring house cleaning her 9-year-old’s bedroom, my daughter, Angie, found a poem Mackenzie had written. I must confess. I’m an adoring Grandma who realizes she has trouble being objective about her grandkids. Putting my lack of objectivity aside, though, I believe Kenzie’s springtime thought, expressed with lovely, childlike simplicity, illustrates well a divinely-implanted longing for the joy produced by an authentic, enduring and loving relationship.
Blossoms are rising to life.
Someday a man will give them to his wife,
And she will yell,
“I love you, my dear,”
(But, only for him to hear.)
Then they will be together
Year after year
With smiles so big that
They spread ear to ear.
My first recollection of thinking about a grown-up relationship was as a little girl playing house with my younger sister. In our make-believe world, dolls were our children, and we took turns playing the roles of mama and daddy.
When a little older, I recall prancing around, singing “I Enjoy Being a Girl,” a hit tune from Rogers and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song. I belted out lyrics that described swooning when a fellow sent me flowers; drooling over lacey dresses and talking for hours and hours on the phone with a thick layer of cream lathered on my face. The song, of course, ended with residing happily ever after in the home of a brave he-man.
Then, there was the longing for Divine relationship—one that began early in my life. Over-shadowing every one of my childhood fantasies was the certainty that Jesus loved me. I sang about it in Sunday school. I heard about it in Bible stories told in children’s church. The strong Christian faith of my mother reinforced a belief I’ve sometimes doubted but never dismissed.
When I developed into a teenager with a budding woman’s body and maturing—albeit, yet immature—Christian faith, my perception of womanhood expanded. Mysterious spiritual voices, domestic ideals and catchy show tunes all blended. I concluded that someday, above all else, I wanted to be loved by a man who was not only nice, brave and romantic, but also, most definitely, Christian. My fertile, always imaginative brain convinced me we would have cute babies and live in an attractive, orderly house while I worked at a rewarding career.
One summer while attending a church youth camp, a pretty young pastor’s wife who had dark curly hair and was wearing a flowered dress, spoke to the group of teenage girls. I listened intently as she declared, “Girls, I guarantee you that if you do this and don’t do that, God will bless you with a wonderful Christian husband and marriage.” Since that was what I wanted more than anything else, I committed to doing this and not doing that.
Eventually, I fell in love with a nice Christian boy. We talked on the telephone for hours. Occasionally, he sent me flowers, and at the age of 20, I walked down a church aisle in a dress adorned with lace. (There’s more to this story that will follow in next week’s blog…)
I appreciate the idealistic dreams of youth that reflect relational longing, and I like listening to young women’s dreams of romance, love and marriage.
On one of my trips to California, I enjoyed lunch with my oldest granddaughter, who was a college freshman at the time. I asked Sydney if she felt most girls her age long to have a lifelong love and marriage. Her immediate answer was, “Definitely, Granny.”
While munching sandwiches at the trendy little restaurant in Windsor’s town square, my granddaughter recounted a love story her professor told in a psychology human sexuality course about an interview he’d conducted with a couple who’d been married 80 years! Sydney and I contrasted that type of enduring relationship with the television celebrity whose multi-million-dollar wedding ended in divorce after only ten weeks. My granddaughter admitted she liked watching the beautiful young starlet on TV, but what she wanted more than anything, Sydney said, was a marriage that endured—even as long as 80 years.
I’m convinced the desire for deep, lasting relationship is planted by God, who is the author of perfect relationship. Other voices, however, such as those of a chaotic culture, unhealthy families, erroneous faith, and even our own idealistic imaginations often create relational dissonance.
While my Pollyanna nature enjoys focusing on the positive, next week, we’ll delve into the topic of relational darkness and dissonance. Meanwhile,
Listening on Your Journey:
• Permit your mind to travel back to childhood days. What events molded your perceptions regarding relationship?
• In what ways did those perceptions impact your grown-up relationships?