“Tis not enough to help the feeble up,
but to support him after.”
— William Shakespeare
I grew up in a culture of “us vs. them” — cowboys vs. Indians, Popeye vs. Bluto, Bugs Bunny vs. Elmer Fudd, the Coyote vs. the Roadrunner (“Beep, beep!”). I was born near the end of the Baby Boom that exploded after “our guys” returned from fighting “their guys” following World War II. Back then, the “good guys” always won, and the “bad guys” always lost. (All that changed during the Viet Nam War era, when it seemed like everything from politics to pantyhose was thrown into a blender and served up as the new “normal.”
When I was in kindergarten, little boys played with cars and trucks, built structures with blocks and stayed together in their corner of the classroom, separated from the kitchenette toys and baby dolls that were only for the little girls.
A girl anticipated grow up, getting married and becoming an impeccable homemaker. She would be adept at gossiping with girlfriends at neighborhood coffee cloches and at raising three or more children. Or if she had an unfortunate face or figure and was unlucky at love, she could choose to be a librarian or a secretary or a teacher. She could even choose to be a nurse or a missionary, if she felt gifted in one of those areas.
I was one of many little girls who adored “us vs. them” animated Disney movies — especially the ones featuring castles, princesses, and knights with flashing swords, dressed in gleaming armor. So in retrospect, it’s not surprising that I spent my childhood expecting to grow up and fall madly in love with Prince Charming. Then he and I would ride away on his grand, white stallion to begin life in “happily ever after.”
Now, from my perch overlooking the past — and with many years of acquired counseling skills under my belt — it’s easy to understand why I loved the regalia of the 1973 movie “Camelot,” and why I related to one character in particular. Not the lovely Lady Guinevere, but the pitiful King Pelinore. “Peli” (as he was affectionately called) was a disoriented old gentleman who was discovered tangled in brambles while being held captive inside a suit of rusted armor. And he simply could not comprehend his plight!
That’s how I began to feel when the early, dragon-like symptoms of clinical depression began rocking my self-esteem at the tender age of seventeen. So it’s not a wonder that I was swept off my feet when a charmingly devoted “older man” — by three and a half years — came along during my senior year in high school, overlooked my insecurities and said, “After you graduate, I’m going to marry you.” I reasoned that my prince had arrived.
Rationalizing that Chuck embodied God’s compassionate answer to my naïve prayers, I reached out to him for rescue from my adolescent longings. Without a doubt, I was certain that he was “the key” to my future happiness.
At eighteen, I wasn’t able to envision how difficult it would be to keep the idealistic promises made on the eve of my fairytale wedding. And soon after that — when an avalanche of reality cascaded over me — I wasn’t capable of comprehending the quality of love and the depth of forgiveness that it would take to lift me out of an unexpected pit of despair.
But the God of heaven knew His plans for my life, and they were much bolder than I could ever have imagined.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord,
‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.'”
A RUST REMOVER …
Remember a time when you felt caught in the brambles of life. Realize that specific situations, which may have seemed dragon-like at the time, could still be causing you emotional pain. Read 1 Corinthians 13:11-12, and spend some uninterrupted moments with the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to release any destructive thoughts that could be grounded in childish reasoning and to provide healing, so that your future may look brighter and steeped in hope. In Jesus’ Name!