Thursday, June 16, 2016
Thoughtful About . . . Being "Too Young"
It's a busy week here in the White House. David's birthday was on Sunday (and I'd like to give a big shout-out of thanks to the Penguins for winning the Stanley Cup that day, which made a fantastic birthday present for that die-hard fan. When they won, I looked over and said, "Happy birthday! See what I got you?" Oh yeah. All me. ;-) Ahem.) Friday is our 15th anniversary. Sunday is my sister's birthday and Father's Day.
Yes, much to celebrate this week. And as I look over at that man I love so much, I know I've already said many, many times how much I love him. I've mused endlessly over the years about love and anniversaries and how I wouldn't change a thing.
And I still wouldn't change a thing. Just the other day, we were talking about how we're at the age where people look back on their teen years and think, "What in the world was I thinking?" But I don't. I still look back on my teen years and nod. I knew what I was thinking and doing. I was responsible. I was mature. I was determined. And I was right. I think I've earned the privilege of saying so at this point, LOL.
See, the world told us then that we were too young to get married. We were too young to know what we wanted. We were just too young, and we'd pay for it. We had people aplenty saying it wouldn't last and asking us why we didn't just live together.
And I shook my head, anger rising. I shake my still, and still feel that anger. This world, that condemns so quickly, is so very off. This world deems it acceptable to sleep with someone but risky to commit. This world tells young people that they can't make decisions to stay with one person for the rest of their life, but they can decide to give their bodies to countless people if they so choose.
This world is backward.
And it still frustrates me when I hear people saying, "You're too young to be thinking about dating so seriously. You think you're in love, but you don't know what love is. It won't stand the test of time. Do you have any idea how few people actually stay married to their high school sweetheart?"
But think how different our world might look if we taught our kids what real love looks like--sacrificial and brave, selfless and strong--rather than telling them they can't recognize it. Think what our world might look like if we taught children to make good decisions rather than telling them they don't know how. Think of what it could mean if we gave them confidence in who they are rather than telling them all their lives that they don't know their own minds and can't be trusted.
Think how different the world would be if we taught people to respect marriage as something created to make us holy rather than to use it as a tool to gain our own happiness.
Because a good marriage has nothing to do with the age of the people going in. It has to do with the emotional maturity of the people going in. And we live in a world where emotional immaturity is the order of the day. We live in a world that preaches personal happiness above all. We live in a world of "You're Worth It" and "Put Yourself First." These are antithetical to a good marriage. A good marriage is about telling the other person that he is worth the sacrifice. It's about putting her first. It's about going through each day asking, not "What's in it for me?" but, "What can I do for you?" It's about knowing that God didn't design this sacred union to make you happy--He designed it to draw you closer to Him and to make you stronger together than you can be apart.
Do I think most 18-year-olds today are ready for marriage? Um, no. But it has nothing to do with how long they've been on this earth and everything to do with how they've spent the time they've had here. I think 150 years ago, 18-year-olds were absolutely ready for marriage. I think 350 years ago, 18-year-olds were considered past their prime. I think much of our opinion on this comes from the very newfangled idea of adolescence and teen years and the place we've given that oddity in our society. Historically, this idea of in-between didn't exist. There were children. There were adults. You were one, then you were another. The goal of the first was to prepare them to be the second. These days, we hurry our children through those early years (put them in school earlier and earlier, teach them to read earlier and earlier, cut back on play time...), but then we tell them to slow down (you're too young for that, you don't understand this, it's just your hormones, not your heart...). Is it any wonder kids are confused? We rush them out of the time they should spend a few more years in, but then we tell them to put on the brakes. We've created a limbo for our young people that has no responsibility and yet huge expectations.
If I had my "druthers," society would focus on teaching youth to handle responsibility rather than telling them they can't. We'd teach them to think and reason rather than to react with nothing but emojis. We'd teach them to look ahead rather than to hit the backspace key. And we'd stop judging maturity based on how many years a person has lived and start judging it based on the decisions they make.
The world told me I was too young to get engaged at 17. Too young to get married at 18. The world thought I should have just given my body to the man I loved, that that would have been more responsible than waiting for sex and marrying young. The world told me it wouldn't last, and that marriage is a failure unless I'm 100% happy every day.
The world is stupid.
I wasn't too young. I made the right choices. And while I would indeed say that I'm happy a huge majority of the time, it's because I know that happiness isn't to be found in what I get--it's to be found in what I give. And because my husband and I both understand this and both deem it worth fighting for, we've got 15 years under our belts already.
There are bumps in the road. Facing them has nothing to do with how old we are--it has to do with Whose hand we put ours in as we do. Each other's...and God's.