Fifty Shades of Grey has been talked about a great deal in different circles lately, but comments are often prefaced with I haven’t read it or seen it; comments ranging from calling the relationship portrayed abusive and controlling to just flat out telling people not to see it. However, there are those who are seeing it, perhaps in secret.
Let’s talk about it. Instead of scratching the surface, I’ll take the plunge for those who care to dig deeper, as I’ve done both – I read the trilogy in 2012 and I saw the film last week. What did you get from it? Have you thought about what you will or won’t do FOR LOVE? Here are my thoughts…
While some may have gone to see Fifty Shades of Grey to explore ways they could spice up their sex life, below the surface of premarital sex, bondage, S&M that make the storyline provocative and taboo there is a message that has, in my opinion, missed a few folks. There is a message about communication, boundaries, and self-awareness. This message is not only missed by some readers and watchers, but missed in building relationships in real life.
How many people are willing to go beneath the surface? Will you go beyond physical attraction, lust and emotion to explore and discuss what you want to get out of your relationships? In what areas are you willing to give, take and compromise? What are your hard and soft boundaries? Have you considered how much better our relationships and marriages would be if we had these conversations BEFORE commitment?
The difference between Anastasia Steele and me is that maintaining sexual purity is important to me and my current relationship with God. Why she was still a virgin at the beginning of this story and then so easily surrendered her virtue wasn’t explored? However, the things I admired about her was that she did maintain her identity, asked questions, and took the time and created space to think about and decide what was best for her. She left things open for renegotiation should she change her mind about things she’d previously agreed to. Also, she set boundaries, and when things took place that pushed her boundaries or she considered unacceptable, she expressed herself and walked away.
Christian Grey was open and honest about his boundaries and expectations for an arrangement, his choice over a relationship, and allowed Anastasia the time and space to decide whether that was what she wanted. And in as much as Christian Grey protested, “this is how I am,” he began to not only face the person he was, why he became that way, but also began to change. However, facing who he was and why he does the things he does, took Anastasia boldly asking some hard questions. (There were other women before her who went along with his arrangement.) It also, took him caring how Ana felt about him.
Points to Ponder: How well do you know yourself and what you want out of a relationship? Can you put that into words? Does your relationship have an agreement, contract, covenant, non-disclosure clause? Are these open for discussion and renegotiation? How often do you revisit these “documents?”
Ask questions. How many of us brood in silence in order to keep the peace in a relationship we desperately think we want or need? There are those who compromise themselves to get what they want. If you have to compromise to get and keep what you have, is it truly what you wanted in the first place? And what’s the likelihood of you being able to hold on to it? Is it really worth losing yourself in the process? Speak up. There are plenty of folks out there in arrangements/relationships existing in a misery of silence. It may look good on the outside, but inside there’s no life to it; at least not a life that I want.
There is influence power that exists in relationships that can be used negatively (manipulation) or positively (inspiration). “If you loved me you would…” “If you want to be with me you’ll let me…” It’s a very thin line. In this case the statement that ‘hurt people, hurt people,” rings true. Inflicting pain on someone else should not bring you pleasure. Likewise, allowing pain to be inflicted on you is not a healthy exchange for a relationship. It’s a compromise that will eventually get old and leave you miserable. There was no commitment between these two fictional characters and therefore no obligation to see each other through their stuff. Walk away.
As my pastor says, ‘until you say “I Do” anything is a cut card, but once you’ve said “I DO,” you do.’ Their stuff becomes yours and yours theirs. Therefore, BEFORE saying “I DO,” you should have a clear idea of what you will and won’t do FOR LOVE and be able to articulate it clearly. What do you need from your mate? What unhealthy habits, old scars and wounds do you need to heal in order to have a healthy relationship? Don’t mask past hurts with band-aids that only cover up and distract you from your wounds. Too often people choose vices that lead to or come with unhealthy addictions (i.e. over indulging in food, alcohol, drugs – legal or illegal, exercise, media and sex) instead of facing their issues. Then those things compound the issues that they already have. Some of these things aren’t wrong in moderation and within their God-intended parameters. However, when even usually healthy activities are used to distract you from important issues they’re no longer that beneficial. Seek wise counsel.
Be brave. Face the person you are and do the work to become the healthy person God wants you to be BEFORE you involve another person in a messy life that requires work for which they’re most likely unqualified. Making someone else responsible for your happiness, or being happy at the expense of someone else’s happiness isn’t love; it is co-dependency.
God is quite clear about what love-in-action looks like –
Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out. If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Show love. Putting love into action starts with you. God should be your first love. How’s that relationship going? He loves you and wants what’s best for you. Have you asked his thoughts on the matter? If the picture he’s painted of love-in-action in 1 Corinthians 13 isn’t the way you’re acting towards others, or they’re acting towards you, then it isn’t love. Learn to love yourself and others below the surface. However, do not take that risk if you and your relationship with God will be sacrificed in the process (Galatians 6:1-2).
There are things we’ve done, want to do, and/or are struggling with because we don’t feel safe enough with anyone to reveal those things. What if you could do that? Some mistakes and pain could be avoided. Some hurts could begin to heal. Guess what? There is a safe space. Jesus already knows everything about you, so why not start by talking it out with him? Start digging deeper into your relationship with yourself and God and be honest in order to grow. That maturity will likely manifest itself in your relationships with others. Surround yourself with those who will hold you accountable, not just tell you what they think you want to hear, but what you need to hear. Take the risk, have the uncomfortable conversations, take the time away for yourself and for God to minister to and meet your needs the way only he can. Don’t hide yourself from him and those who truly love you.
Continue to carefully consider what you will and won’t do…All in love. ❤