Like any single gal, I get a lot of unsolicited advice about dating. It ranges from the not-so-helpful-observation: “you know, you’re not getting any younger” (thanks, I hadn’t noticed) to the overly-simplified: “you’re just too picky” (I know right? Me and my crazy rules about illegal drug use) to the absurd: “there’s lots of men in Alaska” (and then I could see Russia from my house?). Occasionally I do hear something helpful and inspiring.
Bill and Joan are a couple from Church who, despite their senior citizen status, are wildly popular with the youth group. I think it’s their sense of humor and exquisite listening skills. While the kiddos are rambling on and on about their families, pets and vacation, Bill and Joan listen with patience that can only come from spending years with children and grandchildren. The kids also think they are “adorable because he still looks at her like she’s the most amazing person in the world”. Given their fame, I asked Joan if they’d consider talking to the teens about marriage and dating.
Joan paused and said, “well, you know the key to marriage is respect. If you respect someone, you’ll just fall more in love with them as time goes on. If you don’t respect them, eventually you won’t even want to be around them”.
Genius. I realized in all the advice I hear and read, respect for someone rarely enters the conversation. Respect has been pushed aside by both mine and younger generations. Physical attraction and plain ‘ole lust— which asks what can I get from you?-- has overshadowed seeing and respecting the whole person in their inherent dignity. Love-- “willing the good of the beloved” as we learned in Theology (or, in laymen’s terms, just wanting what’s best for the one you love)—is no longer the question. Now, it’s “what’s best for me, and I’ll keep you around as long as you’re on the same page”.
While the idea of love may be fading amidst the onslaught of messages we get about relationships from the world, it is still what humanity craves and what the future hopes for. It’s why Bill and Joan are so popular with the kiddos—their marriage, grounded in respect, is what the kiddos want for themselves one day.
If you’re reading this and thinking, “that’s what I want for MY kids too!” then this is a great time to live in the Lowcountry. On Tuesday, September 27 there will be a program for Middle and High School students at the Visual Performing Arts Center at Hilton Head High School from 7:00-9:00 p.m. entitled “Silver Ring Thing”. A program about guys, girls, dating, waiting, love, second chances and the best choices, it will challenge your kids to wait for a person who respects them in a relationship. You can buy tickets for $5.00 on-line at www.silverringthing.com
Obviously, the Silver Ring thing is over, but you can find more great resources on respect and love at Family Honor and www.chastity.com.