Her distress was quickly apparent. Within just a few minutes of speaking, the tears were flowing. Her tale was especially sad – not because of the tragedy of it - but because of the sameness. It is a tragically sad tale that more and more women are now telling. It is a tale that can be laid at the feet of the ‘New Sheriff in Town’.
Because the ‘New Sheriff’ is an idiot.
This young woman began by recounting her ex-husband’s flaws. You know, the ones that caused her to divorce him 6 years ago. “He just was not sensitive to my needs,” she explained, expecting full concurrence from all listening. “He seemed more concerned with his own problems, and not mine. I just didn’t feel adequately loved by him, and so one day I just said, ‘THAT’S IT, I want a divorce!’”
So she divorced him. He wasn’t beating her. He wasn’t cheating on her. He wasn’t even disrespecting her. He just wasn’t ‘there’ for her.
Apparently, in the New Sheriff’s world, that is enough.
Yes, there’s a New Sheriff in town. The Old Sheriff told women and men that they needed to sacrifice their own needs for others. The old sheriff told women that they could find happiness in caring for a husband and child; and in giving out love to them both. The old sheriff noted that it is only in giving love that we get love; and so it was important to do that first. The relationship that grew up around that sacrifice would grow ever more caring, loving and compassionate.
But then a new sheriff came to town. This ‘sheriff’ singled out women and told them that they were – unbeknownst to them – suffering ‘discrimination’. She accused the old sheriff of ‘insensitivity’ to the ‘needs’ of women; and of just wanting to ‘keep them in servitude’.
REAL women should assert themselves, the new sheriff said, ‘REAL women should demand nothing less from their man, and if they didn’t get it – then just BE DONE WITH HIM – and find one that will put you first!”
Countless droves of young women followed this advice; in fact I think practically every young woman of today does. And then they end up in my office – broken, discouraged and oh so very confused.
They were, after all, just doing what they had been told would bring them happiness. And now – for some unknown reason – they are oh-so-very unhappy. What went wrong?
What went wrong is that the new sheriff is an idiot – and no one is telling them that. Except me, the Church, and those who know the secret of Christianity – that it truly IS better to give, than to receive.
This particular woman was in my office seeking healing because of what happened 6 months prior. She was out in town and ran across her ex-husband – the one that just wasn’t attentive enough to her needs. He was doing great. He had a great job, a wonderful relationship with another woman and a bright future. Turns out, after all, that he was suffering from depression – having just gotten out of the military – in those first months of their marriage. He has since determined the source of his problems, addressed them, and moved on.
That’s kind of what happens in marriages (and life); people struggle with things. And under the advice of the old sheriff, couples would work together to help, support and love each other through those hard times. Consequently, they would come out on the other end happy, whole and grateful. In fact, the old advice was something along the lines of “till death do us part” – but hey, that’s not as appealing, I suppose, as “till my unhappiness do us part”. Cause then it’s all about me, and nobody else.
‘And doesn’t insisting on my happiness lead to happiness?!!’
Um, well, no.
‘But the new sheriff told us young people that there should be no sacrifice forthcoming on our end. After all, don’t we deserve the best?’
Um, well, no.
We live in a world that only improves when we focus more on our responsibilities – then our ‘rights’. That is because we can control our responsibilities, and thereby improve our lives. We can only whine about our ‘rights’ – and that gets us nowhere. Well, nowhere good.
Needless to say, this woman had been consumed with her own version of depression since seeing how wonderful her ex-husband was now doing. She felt guilty that she had been so insensitive to his real needs, and angry that in her own selfishness - she had foregone what could have been a great life together. Now she was alone, and he was moving on.
All that talk about her ‘happiness’, and ‘needs’ turned out to lead to actual unhappiness, and neediness.
And so it goes. One by one, woman after woman, man after man – this young generation is learning the time tested truths the hard way. That’s how truths used to be learned before Christ came and turned ‘easy living’ into sacrificial living. It’s hard to imagine that sacrifice produces gain; giving leads to receiving, and death produces life. But the fact is; it’s true. Before the new sheriff, young people accepted the reality that perhaps priests, pastors, and their elders knew a thing or two about how the world really works. Perhaps it is time again for them to wake up and tell the new sheriff to take a hike. Only then will they have the chance to accept the reality that maybe ‘time-tested’ truths are that way for a reason – they work.
Ashley and Susan
Two women asking the world to not just hope, but to Hope in Love.