Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Christmas table

Over sixteen years ago, RLB and I went to the theater to watch the movie Bed of Roses. I was pregnant with our first born and highly emotional. I started crying early in the movie and never stopped. At one point I was sobbing. If you haven't seen it, here's the plot summary:
Two lonely people learn to say it with flowers in this romantic drama. Lisa (Mary Stuart Masterson) is a business executive who has gotten used to being alone but doesn't like it very much; she was abandoned by her birth parents, and then spent most of her childhood being raised by Stanley (S.A. Griffin), an abusive foster father, after her adopted mother died. One day, Lisa gets word that Stanley has died; alone in her apartment, she breaks down and cries uncontrollably. Later the same day, Lisa gets an unexpected delivery of a dozen roses from a secret admirer. Puzzled, Lisa presses the delivery man for information on who might have sent her the flowers, and he confesses -- he sent them himself. Lewis (Christian Slater) runs a flower shop and often takes long walks through the neighborhood, trying to lose his memories of his deceased wife and child. He saw Lisa crying in her window and hoped the roses would cheer her up. Before long, Lisa and Lewis begin dating, but both have some emotional issues to resolve before their story can have a happy ending.
But that won't help you understand what all the crying was about. Understanding solipsism will. I viewed this movie as if it were about me, my life, and my struggles. Though there are only a few similarities to my real life, that didn't matter! 

RLB and I had only been married for a year and a half. All of the brokenness that lied beneath this exterior was just starting to be revealed. I was about to have a child and was terrified. I knew nothing about raising children. I knew I didn't want this child to experience a broken home. No way was he going to make the horrible decisions I had made so very early in life. No way was he going to stare at the sky and beg to be taken so the pain would stop. No way was he going to be thirteen years old, finding a church for himself, and walking to it alone on a Sunday morning. But how? How do you do that?

There was a scene in the movie where Lewis takes Lisa to his parent's home for the first time on Christmas day. As she is greeted with the loudness of a family she is visibly overwhelmed. She peers around and sees pictures covering the walls of a family with depth and memories and love. She's introduced to Lewis's mother, his sister and her baby, there is a child running through the house, then Lewis's younger brother, then his father...and the noise continues.

I remember that. It was days before our wedding and we were at RLB's family's farm. It was just so loud. I was trying to hide away in RLB's childhood bedroom with no success. "We eat lunch AT THE TABLE in this house, at noon!" - His dad may not have actually said it this way but I got the message and was completely overwhelmed.

RLB, like Lewis in the movie, tried to reassure me that this family of his was plenty screwed up. Well Yeah! They are in everyone's business, there's so much talking, and laughing, and reminiscing...and they're so loud!

Back to the movie. That evening the family congregates at the Christmas table, with the father at the head of the table. The mother (who I now became in the movie) is beaming as she looks over her family gathered together. Intact. Not perfect. But together.

This.

God gave me a vision for my life and it was this.

When our marriage seemed beyond repair, RLB reminded me of this vision. He wasn't nice about it, he said, "so much for your Christmas table, SD." - I was so ashamed.

I am now so grateful RLB said what he did to redirect my heart towards the vision God gave me. That shame turned to victory as that vision carried me through my struggle when I didn't understand my Biblical responsibilities as a wife. It was that longing that made me seek God, His way, His truth.

Over a year ago, I cherished being a part of this vision actualized for RLB's mother. When we gathered together, all seventeen of us, to celebrate their fifty years of marriage. Intact. Not perfect. But together. It was so loud.

I pray where ever you are in your journey that you receive God's vision for your life. That it carries you through uncertainty and challenge. That the vision be so great and the longing so desperate that it causes you to seek God, His way, His truth.

For the next week my posts may be sporadic. I have much to do to prepare our Christmas table. I savor every year we are together. In tact. Not perfect. But together. It's going to be loud. 

9 comments:

  1. I would rather kill myself than watch that movie.

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  2. Yeah, I know, total femporn cheesefest.

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  3. stg58/Animal MotherDecember 19, 2012 at 3:06 PM

    Bed Of Roses? You're on your own. Bed of Bullets? Oh yeah...

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  4. That's some very pretty writing, SD, even without the bullets, although you could subtitle it: "...On the practical application of controlled solipsism."

    After all, it gave you focus, purpose and a measurable metric for a vision you could share with your husband.

    Of all the Christian Slater movies you had to choose from, it is a good thing you didn't pick Gleaming the Cube or Heathers.

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  5. Thank you, Daniel, I appreciate that.

    I haven't watched the other movies you mentioned, I'll take your word for it.

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  6. Heathers is a classic dark comedy. (Very inappropriate given current events, though...we must remember it came out in 1988).

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  7. Be glad you have a noisy family to get together with. All our children have decided the birth family is a much better place (though it is definitely not).

    Not sure if my wife and I will do anything special that day.

    Good post.

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  8. Thank God you had that vision. Thank God RLB confronted you with it when you thought about blowing it up. Thank God you listened.

    My ex purported to have that vision. She was confronted (many times) with it when she talked about and pursued blowing it up. She didn't listen. Now she purports to pursue a modified version of the vision, which would necessarily involve two gatherings (hers and mine) for every occasion for (at best) the rest of our lives. "Her" gatherings will involve a step-father for our 4 children, 3 step-children for her, 2 additional step-children for her new husband (from his second marriage), etc. More likely -- both statistically and based on what I know of the specific facts about her, him, and their relationship -- sometime in the not too distant future there will be a second divorce, followed sometime thereafter (if history repeats, an unwisely short time thereafter) by a third marriage and another set of step-relatives.

    From my standpoint, she chose this. And that choice is incomprehensible to me. (I was tempted to consider divorce countless times, but I could never get 2 seconds past the internal question, "How could I do that to the kids?"). But from her standpoint, this was not a choice but was instead something she "had" to do because she was so miserable. I'd be interested in your thoughts sometime on whether this is a gender thing.

    Thanks for your blog and God bless you.

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  9. Yes, David J., it tends to be a gender thing. Women do not innately posses honor as men do.

    Men, my father for example, who are either forced to go along with divorce or succumb to it will anguish over the path of destruction it leaves behind. Much more so than a woman does, if she does at all. It is honor that distinguishes a man, who aches to the core for his children even when he was powerless to prevent their pain, over the woman who continues on her path of self absorbed, destructive, indulgences.

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