An Interview with Actors / Models Clayton and Keeley - Part 3

An Interview with Actors / Models Clayton and Keeley - Part 3

Clayton and Keeley are my good friends and a married couple whom I admire greatly. Both are working models and actors based in New York City, who also happen to be Christians. It is an incredible privilege to know such strong followers of Christ who take seriously their mission to be God’s salt and light in the entertainment industry. If you missed Part 1 and Part 2 of their interview, be sure to read that here and here. This is Part 3, where they share with me how being married has expanded their influence, why they thrive in New York City and how we can be praying for them and the entertainment industry.

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Why We Love Liam Neeson [Guest Post]

Why We Love Liam Neeson [Guest Post]

Liam Neeson is an interesting actor. For one, Schindler’s List was released back in 1993, and he honestly doesn’t look much older now than he did when he acted in that movie over 20 years ago. Second, other than Star Wars:The Phantom Menace and Batman Begins (which I wouldn’t really label as purely action films), Liam didn’t become an action movie star until the original Taken came out in 2008. That’s right—the man became an action film star at the age of 56! That’s incredible! I’m only 38 years old, and I’ve already got issues with sciatica.

But I mentioned Taken, and that movie really was the turning point for Liam Neeson. It propelled him into another category altogether in the eyes of the movie-goer, making him both kick-butt cool, and intensely trustworthy. Let me explain what I mean.

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Shia LaBeouf: Why Prayers Work

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Most likely, you’ve heard by now that Shia LaBeouf revealed that a woman raped him during his #IAMSORRY performance art exhibit in L.A earlier this year.

Now, we’re not about to sit here and say for sure that it definitely happened or that it definitely didn’t happen. Some people are backing up his claims. Somepeople are insisting that it’s all a publicity stunt.

It doesn’t matter whether Shia’s culpable or not, it’s God’s job to deal with the sin. Ours is to protect our little brother (because he’s younger in the faith). How? Refuse to gossip and choose to pray.

Now, I (Marilette) have been a brokenrecord with this “pray for celebrities” topic. But the truth remains, most of us Christians are more likely to point out Shia’s “lack of fruit” in his Christian walk than pray for him. With fists raised, we demand to know: Is he even a Christian?

I love how Hillsong NYC’s Carl Lentz put it, referring to his well-documented relationship with Justin Bieber. “I tell people grace and acceptance does not mean approval. I can accept you as a human being and not approve of your actions. That’s how we’ve been loved. We love because we were first loved.“

My heart breaks again every time Shia talks about his relationship with his Vietnam-vet, former drug-addict, verbally-abusive dad. Can God remove brain and heart damage caused by abuse in minutes? Yes. Does he always heal instantly? No. He often prefers to cycle through healing because it’s better for our faith in the long run. But if Shia doesn’t have protection from us believers (via prayers on his behalf), there’s no way his pain will ever be removed.

I (Alyssa) have to admit that sometimes I cringe when people say, “The only thing we can do is pray,” because what we really mean is: “Oh yeah, it’s absolutely hopeless, but let’s schluff off a prayer so we feel we’ve done everything we can.

A few weeks ago, I was at a morning prayer meeting at my church. Our leader said God wanted us to pray for a young black girl in a pink coat–the leader could see her face clearly. So we did. A few days later, this story about a Philadelphia kidnapping popped up on the news. Our leader watched the news story about how a young black woman was rescued. He saw her face, and realized it was the same woman he’d seen two days before. The kidnapper had killed other victims in previous crimes, but this woman was rescued within days and had no major injuries.

God’s payment plan for intercessors is answered prayer. When you see an incredible response in the world to something you were praying for, you are motivated to keep praying.

I thought that after I wrote the first article about Shia’s conversion, I would stop heavy lifting in my spirit for Shia. But I keep praying and praying hard. I’m praying because God is demanding that I do.

I have known and loved God for over 20 years. I have a strong faith. I have spiritual gifts to use. So like Romans 15:1 says, that gives me responsibility. And if I don’t take that burden, it’s bad news. “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals.’” (Ezekiel 34:1-10).

Weak. Sick. Injured. Stray. Lost. Scattered. Sounds like Shia to me.

Well doesn’t he know better? Probably not.

In prayer, I asked God what is plaguing Shia. God revealed to me that Shia is haunted by a spirit of iniquity, literally lawlessness. What happens when you spend your lifetime longing for approval from an abusive dad; when the movie industry is demanding your best work, only to sprawl you out in the public eye; when truth is preached as a flimsy ideal? You want freedom.

But Satan has a good counterfeit for freedom: “anything goes.”

Shia doesn’t really understand moral lines (which, by the way, also explains the chronic plagiarism). It’s the cry of his generation that doesn’t have any anchor to truth.

In this new article, Shia says he looks up to Joaquin Phoenix. My favorite movie of Phoenix’s is Walk the Line, which shows Johnny Cash’s raging, messy journey out of darkness. I’m still praying for Shia because I believe God is going to use him in a parallel journey.

It’s crucial for Christians to speak life, not death, because our words become reality.

Let’s not abandon our posts of covering our weakest members in prayer. Let’s not let Shia slip through the cracks.

QUESTION: Why is it so easy for us Christians to underestimate and even dismiss the power of prayer? Let me know in the comments below.

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What the 'Noah' Film Taught Us About Fear

By Alyssa Plock

This is a guest post from Alyssa, my dear friend and roommate from college. A talented screenwriter and actor, Alyssa has worked as an assistant to Sally Lloyd Jones, author of the beloved The Jesus Storybook Bible. Alyssa currently works as a radio producer in upstate New York. You can read her blog or follow her on Twitter.

In the Message paraphrase of the Bible, Noah’s story begins: “Noah was a good man, a man of integrity in his community. Noah walked with God.” In the blockbuster Noah, the title character played by Russell Crowe neither walks with God nor hears from him. Without God speaking, the whole game changes. Especially in the second half of the movie, Noah trusts not God, but his enemy.

People who have seen the movie may say, “What do you mean? He prays a lot!” Yes, he prays. Then he acts in his own strength which does nothing to alter the wrong path he has already chosen.

The pivotal scene in the movie is where Noah leaves the ark before the flood comes to go find wives for his two younger sons. He enters the nearby camp of men and sees the fullness of evil in the world: girls are sold; bodies are lined in pits; starving people rip live animals to shreds with their bare hands. Noah watches a man grab a piece of flesh and savagely devour it. The man looks at Noah and hisses before going back to his meal. In horror, Noah realizes the man is him.

He comes back to the ark convinced that he and his family are too evil to survive and their only purpose of entering the ark will be to save the animals. The rest of the movie centers around Noah’s descent into madness as he tightens his grip on those he loves.

A dash of discernment would have alerted Noah that what he saw was from Satan not God.  But Noah does not recognize it as such. Every decision Noah makes after seeing this satanic deception is based on fear, and the more afraid he gets, the more control he seeks. The more control he seeks, the more he abuses his family. Fear is what drives Noah to abandon a young woman to her death, isolate himself from his family and stop six inches shy of murder. Although the Noah movie is not a historically accurate portrayal of the biblical story, it does present a vivid warning to Christian leaders not to abandon faith in their decision-making.

Noah illustrates the procession of a leader’s fear-based decline:

1. God gives you direction for your life.

Noah sees the world covered in a flood and later sees an ark.

2. You begin to walk in that vision and start to get excited about it.

Noah builds the ark and puts the animals on board.

3. Satan pitches an alternative vision.

The Noah look-alike in the camp is sending the message: “You and your family are too evil to survive.”

4. You listen to Satan’s false advertising, which is as ancient as “Did God really say…?” in Eden.

Noah believes the message and starts shutting out everything else outside of that vision.

5. Fear quickly slips into control.

Noah decides his two younger sons will have no wives and his oldest son’s wife (an enjoyable Emma Watson) can only come on board because he thinks she’s barren. When he finds out she is pregnant, he vows to kill the newborn child if it is a girl–a girl could keep the line of men going.

6. Faith-filled people begin to annoy you to the point of hatred.

As Noah’s madness deepens, he can no longer tolerate his sound-minded wife (Jennifer Connelly) and daughter-in-law. He cannot stand to be around his family. And his family cannot stand to be around him.

7. Your prayers seem to go unheard.

Noah asks God if he should kill his grandchild when it is born. Later, his daughter-in-law says the rain stopping is a sign that the Creator is smiling on the child, what I believe to be the correct interpretation. Noah is too deaf and blind to the answer, though, because the control has become such a stronghold.

8. Your ministry crashes as you and those under your leadership get hurt.

Noah does eventually show mercy to his daughter-in-law, but after 9 months of torture, she breaks down in the deepest, soul-crushed shrieks, you wonder if she will ever recover. As soon as the boat hits dry land, Noah, still cut off from his family, finds a cave in which to waste away. Eventually, he begins to find his faith again and repair some damage with his family, but some relationships are lost forever.

Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Christian leaders, we must be careful not to drive away the power of God by choosing fear rather than faith. Acting in fear makes us lose the power we had when we were walking in accordance with God’s truth. And letting fear fill your mind is putting that yoke of slavery over those you lead. The Spirit of Christ is a spirit of freedom–He will not stick around if you are driving your ministry forward in your own cowardice.

Is “fear” the loudest voice you hear when making decisions? Cast off that yoke of fear before it does irreparable damage to you and those whom you lead.

QUESTION: Have you ever allowed fear and control infect your ministry or leadership? Let me know in the comments below.

Kellan Lutz Used ‘The Passion of the Christ’ to Prep for 'Hercules'

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Actor Kellan Lutz is mostly recognized for his minor role as Edward Cullen’s vampire brother Emmett in the Twilight franchise.

But this week, Lutz is set to star in “The Legend of Hercules,” in which he plays the mythical warrior demigod.

To prepare emotionally for the role, Lutz says that his Christian faith allowed him to connect more closely to his character Hercules.

“There’s a scene halfway through the movie that’s the crucifixion, where I ask my father Zeus for help. I’m a man of faith, so I would just religiously watch ‘The Passion of the Christ’ and I’d use that,” he tells Variety.

The Legend of Hercules” hits theaters TOMORROW, Friday, January 10.

Buy your tickets HERE.

Don Jon Reveals True Purpose of Sex

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UPDATE/ DISCLAIMER: It has come to my attention that some readers are interpreting my publication of this article as an all-out recommendation for everyone to watch the film. Make no mistake, this film is not for the weak-hearted. The filmmaker transports the viewer into the mind of a pornography addict, and forgive the gross understatement, it is NOT pretty. Watch at your own risk. Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.

In 1997, a company called “Cherry Blossoms” found success in the poverty-stricken Philippines (the country from which my parents immigrated). For a fee, Cherry Blossoms provided “matchmaking” services between older American males and young Filipino women. For some of these women, a rich American husband was the only way out of the densely populated and filthy squatters’ towns populated by makeshift houses made of scrap metal.

One customer wrote to a potential bride:

There are two young ladies…who have written that they would do ANYTHING for me…if only I gave them… the opportunity to come to the United States with me. Tell me, Vilma, how do you feel about that?…Would you do anything I ask?“ He describes a particular sexual activity, then writes, "My preference is [for a] partner [who] would be willing, able, and skillful enough to perform that activity for me, at any time.

Christian Author Gary Thomas mentions this story in his book Sacred Marriage, and likens it to "lifetime prostitution.” For these men, sex is something they expect to receive, not what they expect to give.

Ask anyone to describe the purpose of sex, and you’ll get varying answers. Is it individual pleasure? Connection to another person? I would argue that true sexual fulfillment comes from giving up of oneself in body, soul, spirit and will; not taking and using someone as an object of satisfaction.

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In the film Don Jon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut, the protagonist Jon Martello (also played by Gordon-Levitt) attempts to satisfy himself not only with a series of one-night-stands each weekend, but more so with his pornography addiction.

In an interview with RogerEbert.com, Gordon-Levitt, who is also the screenwriter of the film, gives some insight on his character.

Everything in Jon’s life is…a one-way street. He is not connecting or engaging with anyone…He doesn’t listen; he just takes. At the beginning of the movie, he is finding that dissatisfying because there’s the sequence where he brings a young lady home from the bar and he is comparing her to this checklist that he has got of what he likes to see in a pornography video. Obviously, a real human being is not going to map onto that because there is a fundamental difference between a human being and an image on a screen.

What follows are “unrealistic expectations that…lead [him] to objectify people or to not connect.”

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When Jon meets Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson), a “dime” on his buddies’ rating system, he expects to find a cure for his pornography addiction. He finds his viewings decrease, but somehow even real sex with “the most beautiful thing [he had] ever seen” doesn’t compare to the beloved women on his computer screen.

When an older woman and classmate Esther (Julianne Moore) befriends him, she offers him advice that takes him by surprise: “you have to lose yourself in another person. It’s a two-way thing.”

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Pastor Nate Larkin was married with three children when he became addicted to hardcore pornography. He shares his story with the Christian organization I Am Second.

“I think we’re all made for intimacy,” Larkin says. “But intimacy carries its risks. People can reject us. People can disappear. They can die. Pornography offers this artificial intimacy with no risks. Every day I said hello to the woman who wouldn’t laugh at me, or who found me attractive, engaging. And every day, I gave a piece of myself away. It left me emptier and hungrier every time.”  

Contrary to what most movies and pop songs purport, others do not exist to please me. Too often, we use each other as mere objects of satisfaction, instead of treating others as individuals made in the image of God. Each of us are human beings with intrinsic value, who deserve to be appreciated and accepted, apart from what pleasure we can bring to another person.

In The Gift of Sex, sexual therapists and authors Clifford and Joyce Penner (Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist and R.N., M.N., Clinical Nurse Specialist) offer an alternative view to sex.

Lovemaking cannot be just physical…If there is to be a fulfilled relationship, there must be more to it than meeting physical needs. The total person–intellect, emotions, body, spirit and will–becomes involved in the process of giving ourselves to one another.

The Penners narrow down the root cause of sexual addictions like Jon and Nate’s to a lack of true intimacy: “Neither the Internet nor magazines demand a relationship. The images cooperate completely with the needs and fantasies of the addict, who never has to give of himself and his own needs.“

Although the average person may not struggle with pornography addictions like Jon or Nate did, many of us are still plagued with the temptation to use others as a means to satisfy ourselves, especially when it comes to sexual actions. Like Nate, we may avoid true connection in an attempt to experience “artificial intimacy with no risks.”

There is always a risk in putting yourself out there, always the possibility of not having our love reciprocated. But losing oneself in another person is the only way to connect and have a truly fulfilling sex life. We must be willing to lose ourselves in another person in the sexual experience, to be totally open and vulnerable.

As with most Christian principles, the biblical purpose of sex is paradoxical. If one pursues individual pleasure, he soon finds himself unsatisfied and lonely. Yet if he pursues a total connection of emotions, body, spirit, and will, he finds contentment.

The Penners summed it up perfectly: "Sex is not something we do to someone, neither is it something we do for someone. Rather, sex is a with experience.”

Resources:The Gift of Sex by Clifford and Joyce Penner

[All images from RogerEbert.com]

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The Virginity Plague

By Marilette Sanchez

[NOTE:This is a repost from October 2010.]

Depression. Suicide. Abuse. For those floundering helplessly in such ailments, helplines have been a quality resource for counsel. In recent weeks, eye-catching posters on outdoor boards, bus shelters and subway walls in major U.S. cities have directed seekers to a helpline for those with a rarely discussed condition: virginity. The signs ask “Still A Virgin?” then direct people to a toll-free number for help. Within the first five days of the ad’s appearance, the hotline received 70,000 callers. 

It was a hoax. In an unorthodox marketing move, Sony Pictures launched this billboard campaign to advertise The Virginity Hit, a movie about “four guys, one camera, and their hilarious experience chronicling the exhilarating and terrifying rite of passage: losing your virginity” [TheVirginityHit.com].

“The Virgin Helpline” gives callers semi-humorous advice from Zack, a lead character in the film (played by Zack Pearlman). The caller is directed to customized advice according to his or her gender, relationship status, and length of time in a relationship.

For the male virgin who’s been dating a girl for over a year, Zack tells him to check whether he is in friend mode or has reached the point of wearing matching fanny packs. He advises, “You’ve waited long enough….Some people say wait for marriage, but with a fifty-percent divorce rate, why take the chances? Close the deal with your lady.

To the female virgin who can’t get a boyfriend, Zack assures: “You know, you have all the power, when you want to lose it, any guy will take it. Really. We have no standards, you just have to readjust yours… The boy you like doesn’t like you? Who cares? Some guy will.

You’re a virgin who wants to stay a virgin? “HANG UP NOW. THIS IS FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO CHANGE THEIR LIVES.

If you are ready to change your life, go ahead and start the journey to becoming a real man. If you work hard enough, you can achieve your full sexual potential and become a Jonathan.

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Jonathan, Jack Nicholson’s character in the film Carnal Knowledge (1971), saw life as nothing but a series of sexual conquests. When middle-aged Jonathan and his college roommate Sandy (Arthur Garfunkel) reminisced, Jonathan presented a slideshow of all of his lovers. He described each woman in increasingly degrading detail. Beside the tally of notches on his bedpost, Jonathan’s legacy included a failed marriage with a model whom he almost drove to suicide, a spurned best friend of 25 years, and impotence. In an attempt to solve the latter problem, he role-played with a prostitute, to whom he fed a script about worshipping men’s masculinity and “domineering” behavior, while rebuking women’s manipulative and castrating nature.

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You know you’ve arrived at true manhood when you are solitary, shriveled, solo.

Sex without love and commitment is like the life-sucking hell of chemotherapy. Dose after dose, one hookup after another, casual sex seems to be the best antidote for the unbearable cancer of loneliness. But under the surface, the chemo is indiscriminate: healthy cells are destroyed right alongside cancer cells. One’s ability to connect and relate well with others weakens with each “score” divorced from emotional intimacy and commitment. Jonathan’s sex obsession stripped him of his wife, his best friend, and even his ability to enjoy sex in a natural way.

We see the sexual credo opted by Zack and Jonathan everyday: at the local dog run.

Think about it: A female dog in heat doesn’t take her time to weigh her options for the most compatible dog. She does what she needs to do and moves on. Quick, painless, satisfying.

Sounds great if you want to be a dog, but isn’t the goal becoming a man?

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After Christofer Drew Ingle of Never Shout Never lost it, he didn’t feel more like a man. He chronicles his first time in the song “Losing it.” He realizes “you’ve got your whole life to do these things…I just lost it/ I knew I was only sixteen/ But I thought I loved her”.

On a Myspace blog post (which has since been removed), Ingle revealed the story behind the song. After nine months of falling deeply in love with a girl, Ingle lost his virginity to someone he was sure he would spend forever with. He soon heard rumors that his girlfriend had hooked up with his “pal.” After confronting her, she confirmed the gossip. She also told him that she’d slept with over ten other people during their relationship. “I was mortified and heartbroken for the longest time,” Ingle said.

Unsatisfied. Mortified. Heartbroken. Regret. How can these coexist with the “exhilarating…rite of passage”? Is virginity really the “disease” that needs a remedy (and a hotline)?

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When one carelessly shares sex with just anybody, he ends up robbing himself of the joy of being intertwined with someone on all levels: mind, body, and soul. Because sex is not simply a physical union, but a spiritual and emotional one as well. Unfortunately, for individuals who value their “first time,” The Virginity Hit’s ad campaign scorns the concept of waiting for the right time with the right person.

The next time you are tempted to rid yourself of the embarrassing and painful virginity disease, remember this advice from Zack and his hotline: “Press 4 if you want your virginity back––Matt, do you want to give them the bad news?––Uh sure, you cannot have your virginity back.”

Do you know someone who could benefit from this article? Be sure to pass it along.

'The Vow' Book Giveaway!

Curious about the true events behind the movie “The Vow”? Win a free copy of the book “The Vow: The True Events That Inspired the Movie”.

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Here’s how it works. Do any or all of the following:

1. Comment under any article on MariletteSanchez.com.

(You MUST connect with Facebook or Twitter or enter a link to either one within the comment.)

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OR

3. Tweet a link to any article and mention @marilette.

The more you share, the greater chance to win!

Comment or share as many times as you like. NO LIMITS. Contest ends February 29, 2013, 11:59pm. Winner will be contacted via Facebook message or Twitter direct message and announced on MariletteSanchez.com, Facebook Fan Page and Twitter on March 1, 2013.

3 Things 'Warm Bodies' Taught Me

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I went to see “Warm Bodies” because I’m a sucker for romance movies and most things in the supernatural or horror realm. I expected to spend half the time swooning over the ever-adorable Nicholas Hoult (which I did). But I left “Warm Bodies” reflecting on my life. The movie is smart—like really smart for a movie filled with characters who can’t really use their brains.

The film follows a zombie named R who just wants to connect to someone—anyone. After saving Julie from being attacked by his flesh-eating herd, they realize there’s a connection between them that just might save their lifeless world. Click after the cut to read three things “Warm Bodies” taught me.

1. Don’t Judge A Zombie By His Bite

If Julie killed R the moment she saw him, she wouldn’t know he was different from the other zombies. She wouldn’t know he felt a little guilty about eating human flesh. She wouldn’t know the both of them might have a chance at reviving their undead world. It always sounds cliché, but it wouldn’t be so cliché if everyone knew how to follow this advice. Every human being is fighting a hard battle. You may not see it and they may be doing something really annoying or frustrating at the moment, but they’re someone’s daughter or friend or brother or mother. Maybe they’re just really tired and don’t realize that they’re jamming their elbow into your chest while you’re on your crowded 8:00 a.m. subway commute. They’re also a human being. We’re on the same team. Cut them a little slack.

2. Humans Need Connection

Julie jump-starts R’s heart when he spots her and feels an instant connection. I haven’t read the book, but the movie makes it seem like love at first sight. After spending time with him, which of course turns into good old-fashioned teen romance, R becomes more and more human. He’s able to speak more words, move more freely and can even pass for human with a little TLC in the form of make-up. I heard about online dating companies bringing their websites to your phone via mobile apps. You now have the ability to pull up a map on the app and pins will drop where other users are in your vicinity. In about 10 minutes, you could be on your next date. Do we really need the device that connects humans the least to help us obtain a human connection? I’m no expert and I certainly don’t have all the answers, but something about this is a little scary in a where-does-it-end? way.

3. Get Off Your Cell Phone!

It’s hard to connect to anything or anybody when you’re dead—or rather, undead. R reminisces on a time before the virus outbreak when humans roamed the earth freely and human connectivity was easy. The movie then shows a flashback to the airport where every single person is looking down at their cell phone. Is that what we look like today? How awful. I’ve started to notice that texting or playing a game on your phone when you’re out to eat with friends and family is the new norm. It used to be something you did before you were scolded and told to put the phone away. But now it’s pretty much accepted. I even find myself doing it when my friends are all on their phones. Let’s all try something new—stay off your phone while spending quality time with friends or family. That game will always be there. That text most likely doesn’t need an immediate answer. You can always make a return phone call in an hour. “Wherever you are, be all there.” Don’t get me wrong, I really love my cell phone its conveniences, but we have to draw the line somewhere.

I hope this sparks conversation and reflection in your own life like “Warm Bodies” did in mine.

Also, a little plug for the movie: it’s in theaters now!

The Myth of "The One"

By Marilette Sanchez

I don’t know about you, but ever since I was a little girl, singing Disney princesses, romantic comedies, and pop love songs have all told me that I should never settle for anything less than “the one.” He would be my soulmate, my “other half.” He would read my mind and satisfy all my needs. Once he and I met, we would know right away that we were the only ones meant for each other. I would never be lonely again. It was a marvelous concept. But is it true?

The fact is 2 out of 3 second marriages and 3 out of 4 third marriages end in divorce (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2006).

That’s a lot of people with wrong feelings. What seems like everlasting love is usually short-lived infatuation and lust.

In He’s Just Not That Into You (2009), Anna [Scarlett Johanson] is a single woman who is considering pursuing a married man [Bradley Cooper] after a “magical” encounter outside a grocery store. Anna seeks advice from her friend Mary [Drew Barrymore].

“What if you meet the love or your life, but you already married someone else?” Mary asks. “Are you supposed to let them pass you by?“  

We’re told to follow our feelings and we’re left with more divorce papers.

In the book, Sacred Marriage, Christian author Gary Thomas notes: "We have to rid ourselves of the notion that the difficulties of marriage can be overcome if we simply pray harder or learn a few simple principles. …What if God didn’t design marriage to be "easier”? What if God had an end in mind that went beyond our happiness, our comfort and our desire to be infatuated and happy as if the world were a perfect place? What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?“

Valentine’s day weekend last year, The Vow was released. It was a romantic drama starring Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams that was inspired by the true story of Kim and Krickitt Carpenter, a newlywed couple who experienced a devastating car crash a mere 10 weeks after their wedding. Krickitt suffered a debilitating head injury in which her entire memory of her husband Kim was erased. Krickitt never recovered her memory of her courtship, engagement and wedding with Kim, but they remarried and eventually had two children. They recounted their love story in the book with the same name.

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I’m a huge fan of the movie, but as with any book-to-movie endeavor, plenty was lost in translation. The movie did not come close to portray the scope of Krickitt’s developmental loss. Weeks following the crash, Krickitt was like a tantrum-filled preschooler whom Kim had to coach back to physical and emotional health. Several months after the accident, Kim had been on leave from his college coaching job, medical bills were piling up, and Krickitt’s recovery seemed at a standstill, What’s worse, Krickitt began to resent Kim for his tough love as a coach. A sobering reality finally hit Kim.

“Very possibly, the woman I married no longer existed.” Kim had to make the conscious decision to uphold his commitment to Krickitt, even if she never remembered him.

When Krickitt lost her memory, she lost her feelings for Kim. She had to completely rediscover what it was about Kim that she had fallen in love with the first time.

“My love has grown in a different way–not that ‘fluffy romantic love,’ but more of a conscious choice. The fact was, I was married to this man. The feelings came later, and by God’s grace, I’ve grown to love him again,” Krickitt said.

The producers of the movie also exercised their creative license when they removed the couple’s devotion to God and their Christian faith. Unlike their movie counterparts, divorce was never an option for Kim and Krickitt.

Some well-meaning friends told him, “At some point you might just have to let this go.” Others pointed out that divorce would be the easiest way to release Kim from Krickitt’s mountain of medical bills. A social worker told him that when a married person has a debilitating head injury, the odds of divorce are around 80 to 90 percent.

“I had a simple answer for anyone who suggested divorce,” Kim said. “'No, it will never happen.’…I couldn’t see myself going through life without the woman I loved–the woman I had vowed to protect through times of challenge and need…I’m stuck with [her] for life. We will make it work. There is no other option.“

It’s a sobering moment when we realize that difficulties are not just the exception, but the norm in marriage. Kim and Krickitt are living testaments that it is possible to have a thriving marriage in the most crushing circumstances. Krickitt admitted that at her second wedding she experienced a deeper love than most wives experience in a lifetime. We need to stop viewing trials in our relationships as an unnecessary burden, or even a necessary evil, but as a stepping stone to a deeper love.

"Our unique experiences, as awful as they were at the time, have given us a stronger bond than we would have had without them.” Kim said. “We’re closer now; we’ve got a different bond, a more meaningful connection than before.”

Resources:

Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas

The Vow by Kim and Krickitt Carpenter

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Marriage and the 50/50 Myth

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American Sprinter Manteo Mitchell heard a pop. “It felt like somebody literally just snapped my leg in half,” he said. It was the 2012 Olympics, and he had 200 meters to go in the first round of the 4 x 400-meter relay preliminaries. He limped the rest of the way, and the U.S. team qualified for the finals. The cause of the pop? A broken femur. [Huffington]

It is easy to praise Mitchell for his perseverance in his sport. But when it comes to marriage, why is it so easy to quit? At the first sign of difficulty, quitting is the preferred, even the glorified answer. It’s because so many of us adopt the 50/50, “meet-me-halfway” myth into our relationships. Author Dennis Rainey, president of FamilyLife, a non-profit offering resources to build strong marriages and families, gives some insight. In his book, Starting Your Marriage Right, Rainey suggests four reasons why the 50/50 plan is destined to fail.

1. “Acceptance is based on performance.” Without realizing it, many individuals put stipulations and prerequisites on their “love” of their spouse. In this video by FamilyLife, we realize that most of us are drawn to marriage not to love, honor, and cherish. Instead, we get married so we can finally have someone to love, honor and cherish us.

2. “Giving is based on merit.” With the 50/50 mindset, a husband would only lavish his wife with affection when he felt she had deserved it. In turn, a wife would praise her husband only when she felt he had deserved it.

3. “Motivation for action is based on how each partner feels.” It’s easy to sacrifice for someone to whom you feel romantically attached. But what happens when feelings fade (as they are bound to)? The 50/50 myth tells us “you owe it to yourself” to end the marriage, and find someone who will give you those romantic feelings once again.

4. “Rejection is based on focusing on weaknesses.” The “meet-me-halfway” approach to relationships leaves too much room to focus on how the other person is neglecting their “half.” Both spouses are always falling behind because each spouse defines the midpoint differently. “A person who says, ‘I’ll meet you halfway’ is a poor judge of distance,” says Dr. Michael Easley, Pastor of Fellowship Nashville Church.

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In the recently released movie, Love, Wedding, Marriage, Ava (Mandy Moore) is a marriage counselor who is devastated when her parents decide to get a divorce, caused by an affair. Ava immerses herself in reconciling her parents, as her own marriage with newlywed husband Charlie (Kellan Lutz) enters its own downward spiral. When Ava loses hope in her marriage, her father offers her a tidbit that he once learned from Charlie, a devoted vineyard-keeper.

“[Charlie] told me once that when the grapes are grown, the winemakers purposely stress them out by depriving them of water and giving them an overabundance of sunshine. This weeds out the weak ones and only the strongest and best survive. And those are the grapes that make the finest wine. Now, the greatest love survives the harshest conditions. And surviving that turmoil is what makes a marriage strong.”

Resources:Starting Your Marriage Right, Dennis & Barbara Rainey

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