Friday, October 28, 2011

Created to Be His Help Meet: Part 1 (Wisdom)

As I've moved into the section on wisdom I've found that there are some great one-liners and some real head-scratchers bumping elbows. Let's start with this one:
God made you to fulfill this eternal vision. Until you embrace that divine plan for your life, your life will never make sense. You will always be struggling. When you can finally let go and believe God, life will become so simple that you won't have to wonder what you should do. You will know (49 emphasis mine).
Could this be part of the problem with CTBHHM? Last time I checked life doesn't become a one-lane highway once you become a Christian and surrender to God. As my pastor once told us - the fences that God put up (ie the Law) are really fences, and we should really stay inside of them. Once you're inside the fence though? You can go roaming around all you want. Sometimes you'll find yourself tripping over your own feet, but just because you scraped your knees doesn't mean you sinned. That's one reason it's called wisdom.

Moving on a few inches we find two very different statements sharing a paragraph. It starts by saying that regardless of the man (good, bad, or indifferent) you can have a good marriage by being a certain kind of wife. Glad to see that Mrs. Pearl has never met a thoroughly bad man who despised his wife and took all her patience and sweetness as fuel to his malignancy, or (to be less dramatic) a thoroughly worldly one who good-humoredly decided he like to trade in for an earlier model. But then she turns around with the completely true statement that we (wives) serve Christ by serving our husbands whether or not they've earned it (50). Rather odd bedfellows those two. With regards to that first statement I'm suddenly reminded of that passage in the Bible where we're told that if an unbelieving spouse wants to leave we should let them. I wonder how that would jive with Mrs. Pearl's "anything but divorce" stance?

On the opening page of chapter six I noticed that during my first reading I'd written (in good lolcat form) "I can has nuance?" Yeah, not exactly something that Mrs. Pearl does very well I don't think. Consider this statement: ""We live under a law of sowing and reaping that is a certain and unrelenting as disease and death (57)." Now recall Ecclesiastes' famous observation, "The race is not to the swift." Although God says that sowing and reaping are intrinsically linked, in Ecclesiastes God also reminds us not to be simplistic about applying this principle. Diligence is from the Lord, but it's not magic lever whereby we force Heaven to open up and bless us. Sometimes good, careful, intelligent people get their life savings wiped out or labor for years in obscure jobs. I reckon that's why it's so important for us to delight in the Lord. He's really the only thing guaranteed never to fail.

The rest of chapter six largely concerns an interesting (albeit over the top) example of a woman who was consumed with bitterness and her own willful spirituality and who eventually went stark staring mad. Considering that my mom isn't the sanest woman around (and can also be highly critical) I have to wonder whether there's a fair bit of truth to her story, but moving on...

Chapter seven is pretty much an extended (dare I say diatribe) on the dangers of divorce and absolutely miserable life a woman can expect if she dares to stand up for just about anything. To be fair I'm getting the impression at this point that Mrs. Pearl is talking about a woman who could make a husband long for his loving mistress simply by the manner in which she asks him to hang up his jacket. On this reread I was rather more impressed by her role in the "why on earth would you pay so much for meat" episode than I was before. While her husband appears thoroughly autocratic and unpleasant, Mrs. Pearl really does come off as a smug, superior housewife. I just wish the implication wasn't that it's wrong to say anything. If there's a bad way to say "Did you notice there's a cheaper option?" I'm pretty sure there's also a good way. Perhaps I'm speaking for my marriage alone, but if I respectfully ask if Allen overlooked something there's a fairly good chance that he'll thank me for pointing it out and say that he hadn't. It's just not that big a deal. Lesson from this chapter? A critical spirit can sink your marriage faster than the Lusitania. As Mrs. Pearl put it, "He practices his faults, and you practice your bitterness. You are both practicing divorce." I'd have to agree.

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