Thursday, August 2, 2012

Polite Refusals

I had some major revelations this week when a good friend compared my life to Pride and Prejudice. Before you roll your eyes and tune out, know that I'm not one of those girls. I didn't even read P&P until my best friend gave me a copy for my 25th birthday and made me promise to read it immediately. I enjoy and appreciate it, and its place in culture, but I'm not a purist about it. I even (gasp!) liked the 2005 movie. And now that I've alienated both the swoony Mr. Darcy side and the academic Austenite side of that debate, let's move on.

If there is a Mr. Darcy for me (so to speak; I'm not in love with Darcy himself), he hasn't yet made himself known. But there are more than a few Mr. Collins types out there. For those unfamiliar with the story, Lizzie refuses the proposal of Mr. Collins, who is a reasonably decent person and could provide for her, but is pompous and inherently bleah. They have no spark and nothing in common. Lizzie's mother, convinced that no one else will ask due to their family's poverty, is furious with her. But Lizzie can't allow herself to be tied to a drippy man, even if that decision has consequences for her and her family.

Like Lizzie, I have a major strike against me (being divorced, not a lack of dowry) when it comes to dating and stuff. I've been told repeatedly that I need to adjust my expectations, keep an open mind, be willing to do things differently, etc. etc. Up to this point I've been listening to those messages, and chalking any uneasiness up to my personal damage and general cluelessness about the idea of dating again. But what my friend helped me realize is that I don't have to say yes to Mr. Collins. I don't have to bury all my feelings and intuition in the name of Giving People A Chance or Putting Myself Out There. Yes, my circumstances aren't great, but I'm a valuable daughter of God, and I have the right and the ability to choose someone who makes me feel alive... or at least has the potential to. I'm not obligated to say yes to anyone who asks. It's not selfishness, shallowness, or snobbery. It's not immaturity. It's self-respect. And the same is true for all of you. If anyone, even someone close to you or someone you respect, wants you to take the first Mr. Collins who comes along and thank your lucky stars - shame on them. My choosiness might cause me to miss out on some important things, but at least I'll be able to hold my head high about it, and God will help me to bear it.

I felt so empowered by this idea that I needed to share, because I know someone else needs to hear it. I've also decided to start posting a little more often, and more specifically, about my experiences and thoughts as a divorced Christian person. I've noticed that it's not a very common viewpoint in blogs and on websites. I follow several blogs for Christian singles, but they rarely mention or address people who have been married before (or, for that matter, who are over 25). I guess most ministries assume the worst and want to avoid controversy. I've often wished there was more content out there for me, something to encourage me and make me feel less freakish. So I want to create some. As always, being divorced is only one aspect of my life, but it has deep roots - and I believe it's tied to whatever my life's ministry is supposed to be.


  1. I like this post a lot. I'll be forwarding it on to at least one divorced Christian woman I know who might be inspired by it. Thank you and thank you in advance for upcoming posts about your perspective and life. :) I enjoy reading your blog.

  2. I've never read or seen Pride and Prejudice. As a reader and book lover, I probably should not admit that.

    I'm glad you had a friend that helped you see being choosy is self respect. That's TRUE. (whoever that friend, is like them. :)

    I also agree with the sentiment that you need to adjust your expectations...though I may completely disagree with what "adjusting your expectations" means. (may, because I don't know exactly what those conversations entailed.) But my two cents on the topic is: you have to change they way you think about the past. Your past is NOT a strike against you. You had a dream that didn't end happily ever after. It didn't work out...and that is okay. The story is NOT OVER. You are still here. The rest of the story has yet to unfold. Your circumstances are completely fine. You get to decide the significance of past not make this one your life defining moment. Do not let anyone or any group or some small whisper in your head tell you that makes you damaged or less than or not ideal because things did not work out the way they were "supposed to" or as it was imagined. All of that is crap. You are beautiful, thoughtful, smart, fun, honest, caring...the list goes on. I don't think anybody's life turns out exactly as they imagined it would be. But all of that is okay. I think the only thing we can do is make the best choices we can with the information we have and be at peace with who we are in life.

    I am in no way trying to minimize the pain or experience of divorce...I'm not trying to normalize it (though it is quite common and arguably normal)...I'm not an advocate...I don't wish a failed marriage on anybody. But the reality is: sometimes marriages fail. That does not make the divorced person bad or damaged or put them in circumstances that "aren't great." It's traumatic and it's sad, but that's it. It is neither a hinderance nor a handicap.

    And now, I'll step off my soapbox. (I know you can't read tone of voice or body this is meant to be encouraging. If for some reason, it does not come across that way, please delete the comment. I don't want to put anything out there that may be interpreted as anything other than kind.)

    1. I know you would never say anything in a mean-spirited way. Thank you!

      Your points are good. I agree that for most of the world, divorce ISN'T a handicap or a disqualification. And it shouldn't be. But in a lot of church/Christian circles, it is. A lot of Christian men will not want to get involved with a divorced woman regardless of her character or what the circumstances were. Most of them won't even bother to find out. I don't feel hindered by my divorce in any other area of life, but it definitely hurts my chances of remarrying or even dating someone who's serious about his faith. I just have to learn to live with that.

    2. You can add that to the list of things I just don't understand. Another reason for me to stay away. Sometimes I wish I understood it, but there is so much I do not get...and it seems the things I don't understand do not have logical explanations. I am looking forward to your posts.

  3. Awesome thoughts! No one ever should say yes to a Mr Collins! As a friend once said, far better to be married for twenty years to the right guy than stuck in a marriage of forty years to the wrong one. (Strangely enough, though, it's the Collinses of the world who seem to be the most forthcoming...)

    I've loved Pride & Prejudice in all its forms. Although I was introduced to the book first, and early, I love all the variations!

  4. I'm so with you on this one!!! Like Lizzie, my mom tried to talk me into marrying someone, even after I realized he wasn't the one for me, because she was so concerned about me being alone, even though at the time I was only 24!

    You shouldn't have to lower your standards just because of your age, or because of your divorced status. You are way too awesome to settle for a blah Mr Collins.