In my last two posts, I dug deep into some of my own personal stuff, mainly hoping to show you what God revealed to me about LOVE. We looked at “deep idols of the heart” and how and what those mean in my life, and we then looked at what was underlying those deep, deep down.
Today and Friday, I’m going to give you two CASE STUDIES. Today, you see the background, and Friday, you will see the current, present-day manifestations of this background in the area of marriage.
The hope is that you might see some of yourself in these people. These are relatively extreme examples, so you obviously won’t see all of yourself in all of this, but I want you to look for glimpses of things that speak to you–things you might do or things you might think about yourself. Let God reveal to you His truth for these situations. Again, the hope here is to reveal to you what it is you are really wanting, seeking, and craving in life.
So, here goes…
CASE STUDY #1 – Natalie, Age 41
Natalie’s parents separated when she was five, although their divorce wasn’t final until over a year later, when she was six. Prior to the initial separation, the relationship of Natalie’s parents was already nearly non-existent. Her father worked a lot, and when he wasn’t working, he was gone doing something else. He would typically arrive home around the time Natalie went to bed, or after.
Natalie’s father loved her very much, but he was miserable in his marriage and immersed himself in his work, friends, and hobbies. When he did arrive home before bed, he would often sit with Natalie on the couch in front of the television, with her cuddled in the crook of his arm, his head leaning down, resting on the top of his daughter’s head. In all her life, there were no times more special than these couch-sitting, cuddling times. When he arrived home after she went to bed, he would typically go in and kiss her on the cheek and whisper, “I love you.” Natalie would often do everything in her power to stay awake in bed until her father got home. She usually failed in this endeavor, but on those rare times she succeeded, she would pretend to be asleep, just so she could experience the kiss and the “I love you.” Along with the couch-sitting, these times in her early childhood years were the most special in her memory.
One time shortly after the separation of her parents, Natalie was in bed, still awake, when her father arrived home. Natalie hadn’t really grasped the concept that her father no longer lived with her. In fact, initially, he was seeing her more and spending more time with her; the only difference being that it was usually out doing something fun somewhere else, like getting ice cream or pizza or whatever. Natalie didn’t really understand why her father was sleeping somewhere else. Looking back on this later, she reasoned she thought her father was just working late, like usual.
On this particular night, her father arrived home after her bedtime, but she was still awake. She actually felt her stomach flutter with excitement when she heard him come through the door. She remembers this feeling still to this day as an adult. She didn’t really notice that her father knocked on the front door when he arrived, but he did. What she did notice was that the first thing she heard him say was said with a much louder voice than he usually used. She didn’t even know what he meant by what he said, but the tone and volume registered in her mind. Her father was mad at something.
“Who is he?” her father shouted.
She heard no response, but her father then shouted, “No, I’m not going to be quiet. Who is he?”
Again, she couldn’t hear her mother at all. She apparently was talking very softly. A brief moment of silence passed, and then she heard the words that would shape the rest of her life.
“I don’t BLEEP-ing care about Natalie,” her father shouted at what sounded to her like the top of his lungs. She heard nothing after those words, and if the truth were known, from that point on in her life, she heard nothing else her father said. It didn’t matter what he said or did; it would always be covered by the truth she heard that night, “I don’t care about Natalie.”
In her mind, it was all a lie. All the couch-sitting, the cuddling, the kisses on the cheek, the “I love you’s” in the quiet of her feigned sleep—all lies. Her father didn’t care about her. In fact, the real truth was that he didn’t even love her.
Natalie’s father had obviously discovered a truth about his wife that had set him off. He was angry, and he thought his daughter was fast asleep. At the same time, he didn’t even mean what he said in the way it was heard. He meant he didn’t care if he woke Natalie right then because he was so angry at his wife. In fact, part of him wanted his daughter to be awake so that she would think her mother was the real reason he wasn’t living at home anymore.
None of these reasons were right or good, and certainly, the message that was sent to Natalie was life-shattering. He meant none of it. He loved his daughter more than life, but never again would she believe it.
CASE STUDY #2 – Scott, Age 28
Scott’s mother was killed in a car accident when he was fourteen. He has never forgiven her for leaving. When he was sixteen, he drank his first beer and smoked his first joint. Although he hasn’t kept records, he is pretty sure there hasn’t been a week that has gone by since where he hasn’t been drunk or high at least once during the week.
After his mother’s death, life as Scott knew it ceased to exist. His father became non-existent, school didn’t matter, and Scott trusted no one, shutting anybody and everybody out.
During the summer of his sixteenth year, Scott met a girl named Rachelle, and she rocked his world. She became everything to him. They spent nearly every waking moment together, and she was Scott’s first sexual partner. Four months into their relationship, however, he found her intimately involved on the couch in the basement of a guy who he thought was more of a friend than he really turned out to be.
Scott was devastated, and less than two months later, he overdosed on prescription pills in what was a weak attempt to commit suicide. He later admitted during a session with his high school guidance counselor that he didn’t really want to die; he just wanted Rachelle to love him again.
On Friday, we will paint a further picture of the two lives described above, and we will see how each of them brings their own distorted view of love into their current marital relationship. Join me next time…