Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How Reading a Vampire Book Revealed to Me the Gift of Free Will – Leave and Cleave

(CLICK HERE for previous chapter.)
Have you ever been back to a place from your childhood that you haven’t seen since then and wonder at the differences between your memory and current reality? For example, childhood memories of my elementary school gymnasium are vivid pictures of a giant room where we held PE, school plays and movies during rained-out recesses. I mean, we got hundreds of people in there at a time, at least. But when I went back to that gym once a few years later, I marveled at how small it was. Same with the cafeteria.
Now in this case, size is insignificant. I mean, who cares about my perception of a couple of rooms at George Washington elementary school? But the same concept applies to our childhood memories of people, especially relatives. I mean, I remember my grandfather a certain way, but he died when I was 13. I don’t have adult memories of him. But my mom does of course. And I have to check myself sometimes when I’m talking about him because I can’t just say ‘grandpa was so-and-so’ when I should be asking my mom if how I remember him is accurate.
Perceptions from childhood stick with us whether they are accurate or not. They shape our morals, beliefs, behaviors, and ideas and often lead our feelings, actions and reactions of our present.
While Bella is in her Choosing Fields, what she believes her parents, Charlie and Renee, would think deters her from accepting Edward’s marriage proposal at such a young age.
She’s using a perception of a perception as an excuse to drag her feet.
A perception of a perception is a dangerous thing. One perception alone can lead to gross misunderstandings. Making an assumption about someone else’s perspective can be a communication catastrophe.

Charlie and Renee married early, had Bella early, divorced early. From Bella’s perception, marriage in general didn’t work so well. Bounced back and forth between parents, Bella grew up quick and relied heavily on her smarts for a worldview. Her experience gave her an idea about marriage that was true in her case, but not necessarily true in all cases.
This idea automatically turned into Bella’s perception of her parents’ view on the same subject. She remembers Renee making remarks born from her own experience with Charlie that she took, without asking for clarification, as a strike against the institution in general. The fact that Renee remarried translates to Bella that wisdom and a more adult view of the situation made the difference the second time around. As far as still-single Charlie, Bella never asks (in the book).
Bella’s marriage perception, then, is prime to conflict with Edward’s. And he’s wise enough to explain his side to her.
“You see, Bella, I was always that boy. In my world, I was already a man. I wasn’t looking for love – no, I was far too eager to be a soldier for that; I thought of nothing but the idealized glory of the war that they were selling prospective draftees then – but if I had found… I was going to say if I had found someone, but that won’t do. If I had found you, there isn’t a doubt in my mind how I would have proceeded. I was that boy, who would have as soon as I discovered that you were what I was looking for – gotten down on one knee and endeavored to secure your hand. I would have wanted you for eternity, even when the word didn’t have quite the same connotations.”
Even after this beautiful speech, Bella rolls her eyes. If any of it sounded good to her, swayed her in the slightest, the pull of her upbringing and experience quickly snuffed the desire to accept it.
The kicker comes later when she discovers that her perceptions of her parents’ perceptions were inaccurate! If she had only remembered to trust Edward, as she’d learned over and over that he was trustworthy, much of their strife in her Choosing Fields could have been avoided.
My point is not that parents and their perceptions are full of crap. Quite the opposite, really. I love that Bella loves and respects her parents so much throughout this story, and that she takes into account their feelings. But many times our perceptions of our parents’ perceptions are full of crap. And if we’d muster courage and take time to communicate, not fearing the response, we’d find out the truth instead of basing monumental decisions on assumptions.
When it comes to accepting our Perfect Lover, the past can be a heavy factor influencing our freedom to choose Him. Like testimonies, the past can have negative, positive or both impacts, but rest assured it always has an impact. If we, as children, witnessed our parents or some other adult have a bad experience, that bad experience plants a seed in our young, vulnerable brains and sprouts into a belief that defies all other facts. That belief results in actions. If someone in the Church harmed (intentionally or not) someone in our family or close to us, we gain a perspective on religion/the Church/God. No matter what happens later in life, questions from that experience need answered before we even think of believing the Truth our Perfect Lover represents. Scars from the past will hinder our ability to step into an eternal Free Will commitment with our Perfect Lover.
Communication and investigation become necessary. We ask questions, make sure our perception of the past is accurate. If it is, we find a way to heal. But so often it isn’t. So often what we thought all along wasn’t true!
Where fear and guilt hinder Free Will, pain gives us an opportunity to exercise it because healing takes a massive effort to choose. Every step in the healing process starts with a choice – to identify its source, to stop wallowing, to stop picking at the scab, to move beyond it, to release bitterness, to forgive, to allow the Perfect Lover to comfort and apply His restoring balm.
Bella has the opportunity to choose Edward and allow him to show her how fulfilling and beneficial marriage can be. That step, however, requires surrender to his way of thinking, and that can’t happen until she hurdles the obstacle of SELF.
That’s next on How Reading a Vampire Book Revealed to Me the Gift of Free Will. Hope I see you then!
For the next chapter, The Self-Obstacle, CLICK HERE.
(photo by


SarahtheBaker said...

As one who married young, I really appreciated the choices and arguments Twilight presented.

Sometimes you can be so sober and mature you overlook the simplicity and beauty of love as it should be. Bella really has to grapple with accepting a truly good and perfect thing, based on her cynical and temporal view of love and commitment. Not a promising start for an "eternal love," is it?

It is so important to be reminded of our own lack of perspective in terms of forever. God's in it for the long haul. Can we comprehend and commit to that?