Enjoy Writing | Oh My My My | Part 3

i had a dream last night
and rusting far below me
battered hulls and broken hard ships
leviathan and lonely
josh ritter - change of time

start by reading part 1 + part 2!

First we need to mosey on back to 1987, when a little boy was introduced to earth.  This child grew wild and free where the wind sweeps down the plains.  Except scratch the "wild" part.  He was a bit of a safe man.  Very proper, respectful, disciplined, intentional, and formal.  Though he loved adventuring outside, hog-hunting, fort-building, machine-driving, height-climbing, animal-shooting, rock-moving, he certainly was not wild.  He was young and male, but he was… tame.  This tall, quite slim, calloused, muscular, bronzed, high-cheek-boned, cut-jaw-lined, blue-eyed boy played by the rules.  

His mother and father raised he and his 12 brothers and sisters on over 20 acres of land.  His father and mother poured their hearts and souls into their family.  His father and mother are hard workers - hard and loving workers.  His father and mother are generous, kind, strong and faithful.  

This young man, Caleb, was raised to respect and desire a wife and to nurture and raise his own children.  He was brought up eager to be a husband.  From a young age he prayed for his future family and worked hard to be in a position to provide for them (as he also learned by word and action that a man is to be the provider for his home.)  This diligent and ambitious family took an incredible risk and started their own construction business when Caleb graduated high school.  Father and his three sons took on the daunting task of running their own company - something none of them had ever done.  

In the early years of the family-run company, Caleb and his twin brother also set out to buy their own land and start building homes for their families - completely debt-free.  After years of saving, and in the middle of running their first company, the boys bought 50 acres between the two of them on neighboring plots of land.  Their determined, focused spirits put the pedal to the metal.  They'd rise before the sun to head to work, and after work they'd drive over to their land and clear trees, prep their foundation, pour concrete, assemble walls and build those houses (which is utterly impressive for 22 year old guys, if you ask me.)  

Their devotion to their task also made itself known in the music world.  Caleb and Daniel both play the piano, violin and viola.  Let me rephrase that: they both received university scholarships for their musical skill.  Ha! Can you imagine?  I actually can not imagine being so good at something! These scholarships were turned down so they could start their family business and build their homes (which, again, is utterly impressive for 20 year old guys, if you ask me!)

Handsome: check! Honorable: check! Hard-working: check! Smart, talented, adventurous, romantic and over six feet tall: check, check, check, check and cheeeeeck.  Single and available? Yes'sir.  Single and looking? Oh, you bet… for years Caleb was looking.  But in 23 years this sweet, gentle, quiet, hunky man had never had a girlfriend.  In fact, he'd never asked a girl out! Actually, he'd never even spoken to a girl on the phone, or been "alone" with a girl anywhere. 
This brings us to a very crucial and careful portion of the story.  Crucial, because the belief system I am about to share almost defined Caleb singularly (much like my past stories and hurts "made" me).  Careful, because I would never want to offend, judge or blame anybody in his life for "what he believed."  I'm simply telling the story of a boy, not preaching a Christian course on relationships.  Trust me.  

Caleb was homeschooled and brought up in an organization with very honorable, virtuous and impressive principles.  The organization, however, was created and the material written by a man who has a flawed view of "grace." If one were to take the time to read his personal papers (NOT his homeschool material or books, but his personal writings) one would find an interesting definition of grace.  He claims "grace is the desire and the power God gives us to do His will."  Strictly "dictionary definition" as well as biblical definition, that is just not what grace.  Grace is unconditional forgiveness, undeserved mercy, unmerited favor from a generous, extravagant, loving Father.  The definition of grace includes "He did" not "us do."  Grace is not about our performance, obedience or discipline.  A completely different discussion would be how God's grace gives us power to obey and desire for HIs will, but that is not grace itself.

 This conviction automatically (albeit subtly) works its way into the writings, meetings, principle's and teachings of this man's organization.  His grace worldview touches everything.  And to be honest, I think it's incredibly hard to not get swept up into the mindset, particularly when everyone you know and love believes the same thing.  That last sentence would be true for any belief system or organization!  If you are born into it, and know it, and everyone around you believes it, you'd be hard-pressed to disagree (though it certainly happens!)

While this particular organization has a great mission statement ("to support parents in raising their children to love the Lord Jesus Christ, reason wisely based on the principles of Scripture, have world-changing purpose in life, and give Biblical answers to the needs of our day") it seems to fall short in the day-in day-out application of unearned grace.  By nature, a wrong view of grace (and freedom and forgiveness and salvation) means many people work to achieve or earn or keep something by their own goodness that is not according to the Bible.

Many of these families adhere to certain "rules" for godliness, rules to obey "God's will," that are just not in the Bible. Rules like: women must wear skirts, parents must homeschool their children, families must not own or watch cable television, modern music and "drum beats" are sinful as they worship the devil, drinking alcohol is always sin for anybody, and a rigid, confusing courtship system.  

The dictionary definition of "courtship" is simply: A period during which a couple develop a romantic relationship, especially with a view to marriage.  But the courtship-program adhered to by many, I believe, well-meaning families is much more deranged.  Parents strongly limit male-female interaction (unless at large group events or family get-togethers or church/school events.)  A young boy needs to essentially see and maybe speak with (a handful of times) a girl and "seek the Lord" to find out if she is "the one" for him.  If he receives the mystical go-ahead from God, he can then call the girls father and ask permission to court his daughter.  From what I hear, fathers have a variety of responses: some decline a man right there, others tell the nervous lad to wait while the father prays about it and that he'll get back to him (in no definite time frame) and still others request to meet in person for a dad-boy date.  The dad-boy dates are supposed to be a time for the father and hopeful knight to get to know each other, build a relationship and learn about each other's beliefs.  These dates could last for weeks or even months.  Which you may say "Wait, isn't that what a guy is supposed to do with a girl?I" You have yourself a point there, you have yourself a point.  If the boy boy passed the father's inspection, he would be granted permission to take the girl out on a date (with a chaperone, of course.)  

If the boy didn't gain daddy's approval, however, he was shot down.  And the fair maiden daughter at home was left protected, safe and un-hurt thanks to her father's fortress and shield.  Her heart was not divied out in pieces to the men of this world, but was left whole - still waiting - for her one and only husband.  

It's hard for me to not launch into a rant about how deeply I disagree with this "model" of finding a life partner.  How, first of all, the father's assessments by no stretch of the imagination could conclude if the boy was a "strong leader" - all the assessments could conclude would be if the boy was a strong obeyer.  Father's set the rules, if the boy obeys and says yes to the right questions, he's in.  If he doesn't, however, he's toast.  Or how about the natural, good, lovely building of a friendship?  A REAL friendship?  Even the boys that ended up hurting me were my friends.  Very good friends.  Every single one of them talked with me, laughed with me, shared with me, made memories with me and had fun with me.  The friendships weren't separate from "feelings" but the friendships were real.  Or maybe we could talk about the fact that a father believes he has a better grasp on what his adult daughter needs in a life partner than she does, that God isn't able to lead her.  That she is just too young, unwise, swayed by emotions, fragile and hormonal to know who would really be a good for her.  Maybe the biggest one for me: how is man supposed to "hear from God" about a girl before he even knows her?  And then once he does "hear" that she is the one, what happens when the father turns him down?  Did the boy hear wrong?  Or did the father make a mistake?  I do believe that God can and sometimes does literally speak to a person about future life decisions, including who to marry.  But to place that kind of pressure on a man as a requirement to possibily take a girl on a group date… well, that's just too much.

That kind of thinking and approach was one Caleb was set on.  To be honest, his parents really did not even teach him that rigid courtship system, or believe it themselves!  Caleb just subconsciously applied what he was seeing around him as final truth.  had never asked out a girl because he had never heard that "she was the one."  So he was stuck, unable to ever really pursue a girl he liked.  He could try to talk with a girl at family events, and obviously stalk her Facebook or blog… but that was it. He often wondered "What will this 'hearing from God' look like? How will I know?"  With an underlying belief that if he blew this, he just might be blowing his favor with God, he treaded extremely carefully.  

His respectful, masculine, genuine, good-guy self garnered a whole lot of attention from the ladies, and he always had a slew of girls circling in his head he was keeping tabs on, but all of "that" led to barely any friendship and zero romantic relationship.