After a full week of car maintenance and tending to a baby, I was delighted to snuggle into my sheets at the ripe hour of 9:30 last night. There is nothing that makes me happier than going to bed early. Seriously, just ask my husband.
I do what most people do these days; as I recharge, my phone recharges. Somehow, I always make one last browse through my social media. As I scrolled through my newsfeed, I saw a link posted by a fellow mommy blogger, and I knew I had to click on this particular article titled I’m a little jealous of Jill Duggar.
To be totally honest with you, today I had planned on writing a post about my guilty pleasures. Oddly enough, 19 Kids and Counting is at the very top of that list. As with all TLC shows, there are families who live out their lives with production crews and interviews and yet there is something just a little…off about them. Like Nicole, I am always totally “transfixed” by the show. There is something so abnormal about their happiness. There is also something so fascinating by the fact that Michelle has given birth nineteen times; has the energy to rear and discipline; and that seemingly all of the children buy into the seemingly outdated methodology of purity, courtship, engagement, and marriage.
They’re all perfect. Every last child, despite the admission of everyone’s pre-existing condition of sin, is completely obedient, and completely sold out to their parents ideals.
For the love, Michelle and Jim Bob, how in the heck did you do it? I had the most wonderful parents a girl could ever ask for, and yet, I was not perfect. I strayed into territory that has lasting scars on my life. I rebelled against what my parents taught me. I eventually returned because of their unconditional love. And yet, there was space for me to wander, and wander I did. I remember thinking consciously, ‘my parents told me xyz, but my friends are doing abc. I want my friends to like me, so I will do what they do.’
Most of the mistakes of my adolescence stemmed directly from this small need to feel desired by boys my age, or a misguided perceived conception of what ‘cool’ was in high school. Had I known then what I know now, I would’ve done my own thing, right down to the geekiest bit of my soul, and I would’ve been infinitely cooler than I was. At the end of the day, I always tried too hard to be liked. Ironically, the more I tried, the less cool I was.
I think about Bennett’s teenage years a lot; maybe a lot more than most parents of an almost-six-month-old. I think about the struggles that I will soon face in raising a toddler, then a child, a tween, and then a teen. I hope that I will give him the foundation to make the right decisions and issue effective consequences to teach him to make the right choices moving forward. I pray about it a lot. I pour into scripture a lot; mostly because I have experienced the sting of sin firsthand during my adolescence. As my mother tried to warn me, there is definite pain with rebellion.
I suppose that is where my jealousy comes in. All of Jim Bob and Michelle’s children seem to have avoided the sting of giving your heart away too freely. Both Jessa and Jill upheld purity and modesty in the strictest sense of the word…and didn’t ever question the validity of purity and modesty in their life. These girls protected their hearts and anticipated the future with peace…not with impatience. I remember wanting to find the one my soul loves so much that I forced relationships that weren’t working. Had I trusted God that he was preparing Steven for me, I would’ve been strong enough to wait for him. Jessa and Jill didn’t know who their future spouses would be, but they had the maturity and foresight to wait upon the Lord…and he delivered their perfect matches.
The methodology with which Jim Bob and Michelle chose to raise their extremely large family is so extreme, that many are quick to dismiss the couple as a little loony. I am sure part of the reason that film crews first entered the home was to wait for the children to rebel…get into some trouble. But in all of the years of filming, the family has shown that their trust in each other and their faith and God reigns in their home. It is fascinating and confusing all at the same time.
I am jealous of Jill in her engagement…not because of her perfect hair (although it is completely enviable) or the fact that she gets to plan a wedding, but because she had the strength to believe that God had her perfect match, and the patience to wait for him.
I’m not sure I could ever persuade Bennett to live life with that sort of patience. I would like to think I could. I pray every single day that he knows the perfect love of Christ and what that looks like realistically in his life. I want him to learn to respect women; all the while knowing that his desire for women is completely natural and healthy.
I think desire, in and of itself, has become the root issue for Christians in dealing with sexual sin. Too often, we confuse the fact that desire is not a sin. It is how we act with that desire that makes it into a sin. Post-puberty, humans are hard-wired to crave sex. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. This desire does not make you less of a Christian. I think that, had I known this, I would’ve felt a little more free even within the bounds of marriage. For such a long time, it is engrained in Christians that sex is a sin, if you think about sex, you’re sinning…etc…that when you are actually within the boundaries that God intended, it still feels like sin.
The Duggar girls wait for courtship, not to be asked on a date. Courtship is intentional time spent with a chaperone for the purpose of marriage. Had you told me at sixteen that I had to go through that process, I would’ve laughed. ‘But no one else dates like that, mom/dad! That is so silly. That is too extreme.’
And yet, here we are…a mere eight weeks removed from Jill Duggar’s wedding day, and they’ve already announced that they are expecting. It appears that the guilt of many Christians couples did not follow her and her husband…
So seriously, Jim Bob and Michelle, how did you raise your children to wait upon the Lord? How did you do this nineteen times and have it work every single time? How can I model this patience with my own children and have them know that God will provide no matter what? How can I save them from the sting of rejection?
I am writing TLC to suggest that they change the name of the show to “Nineteen perfect kids and counting…” It would certainly be much more accurate.