OK. So my 17 year old son and I have been reading a book called Best Friends For Life by Michael and Judy Phillips. Have you read it? It's the first book I've ever read, in my entire life, that brought on a Panic Attack.
That, however, is my fault; the Phillips had nothing to do with it.
The book was written for parents and their teenage children to read and discuss together before their children hit a marriageable age.
It starts out with statistics. They discuss the staggering number of failed marriages in America today and then go on to present some things you can do with your children to help them not become one of the "marriage failures".
That was all fine and dandy. So far, so good. Nothing to panic about, right?
According to the Phillips, there are 4 ways to obtain a spouse. Dating, courtship, betrothal, or an arranged marriage. They discuss those 4 options in detail and lean heavily on courtship. We've always thought that was perhaps the best way to go and have frequently discussed that option with our sons as they've "aged".
OK-no panic attacks. Yet. The Phillips waited until nearly the end of their book to drop their little bomb shell. And it hit me right between the eyes.
They really feel that a young man or young woman should spend, at the least, one year "courting" the person they're interested in marrying. Doing that gives the young people plenty of time to get to know each other. To see each other in all kinds of circumstances and situations so they know what that person truly is like-a girl would see how that guy treats his parents, handles his money, works at a job, serves at church, etc. and vice-versa. (That's logical, and still no sign of a panic attack...)
Here's where I got hit: they suggest that either after that year, or at some point during that year, the boy and girl switch places. No, I don't mean they start cross dressing. I mean the young lady would go live with "his" parents and he would live with "her" parents. For. One. Full. Year. In doing that they could really get to know each other's families and learn about their lives and how they do things, etc. etc.
I laughed at first. How ridiculous! That's absurd. NO ONE could just drop their life and go live with someone else's parents for a year!
My next reaction was, "Whew! I'm glad my sons would never go for that. Can you imagine how inconvenient it would be to have some strange girl move in with us for a year?!" (B.-you are not strange and you will always be welcome in our home if you ever want/need a place to live!)
It actually took a couple days before my third reaction set it, and that was a Panic Attack.
I started imagining my son's "special someone" moving in with us. The reason the Phillips suggest this is so a girl could learn from her future mother-in-law, (me in this instance) how to cook and clean, how to raise children, prepare lesson plans and teach children, and be a wife. Ignoring the fact that it's her parents' job to teach her most of those things, I imagined me doing it.
It would be like living with a mirror in front of me all the live-long day! She would know everything about me! She would see all the times I ignore the grunge on the windowsills and blog instead. She would see the crumbs I don't "see" under the toaster and the laundry I "forget" to fold. But more than that, she would see all my inside uglies. The times I spend ranting and raving instead of forgiving. Or the times I wander around, feeling very fearful of the things going on all over the planet, rather than turning to the Lord for comfort. I would be training her and what kind of trainer would I be? It would be her job to follow me around and learn from me. I know that's what our kids do, but somehow, after years of living with each other, I think parents and children can develop selective hearing and sight. Our kids learn from us, but the boys can just look at me and think, "Oh, thar she blows. I'm outta here!"
Not so with a stranger shadowing you all day with the specific purpose of learning how to do whatever it is you do.
It was a very, very convicting thing for me to imagine. And I wonder why it's easier for me to picture "her" seeing all my uglies and panic, all the while knowing that the Lord is familiar with all my ways and I can ignore that.....