From A Christian Cab Driver
January 10, 2005
OUR SELF IMAGE
I met Emily almost three years ago. Now, just three weeks before New Year’s Day, this still beautiful and vivacious young woman of twenty-six had aged several years in the brief month since our last encounter. Her boyfriend and fiancé of six years had broken off their engagement and moved to another city. He was the star football player in college and she the cheerleader. They had invited me to the wedding that now would never take place.
There was no argument or fight involved. Brad was simply not ready to settle down. He didn’t want to trade the excitement of the single life for a lifetime commitment. So, like the baseball player whose manager suddenly placed him on waivers, Emily had been traded for a player to be named later. She felt like yesterday’s garbage.
There is a vast difference in the self-perception of women and men. Emily was Brad’s girlfriend, Brad’s fiancée, and after buying her wedding dress and printing the invitations, in her mind she was Brad’s wife. Now Emily was back on the weekend club circuit, alone or with some of the other girls, in a frantic and confused effort to re-establish her identity. But no matter how she tried to present a picture of gaiety and self-assurance, Brad was at the center of her mind like a festering sore. Emily epitomized the song re-recorded by Johnny Rivers in the 60’s, “The Tracks of My Tears”.
A best seller entitled WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS; MEN ARE FROM MARS describes this phenomenon. Women are imbued with a nesting instinct necessary for the preservation of the species. Their life and self-image, whether they want to admit it or not, revolve around the family and their man. God instilled this and informed us of His decision in Genesis 1:16. Men, by contrast, are the hunters, providers and the conquerors. They also are naturally polygamous thus producing a fair degree of insecurity in the female gender.
From her viewpoint, Emily had invested six of her best years in Brad, only to see that investment crash and burn. Brad, a former college athlete now facing the age of thirty, sought to relive his glory days with new conquests in another town leaving a shattered Emily in his wake.
The same night that I drove Emily and her friends to the club district, I also drove a young couple we’ll call Mark and Patty. They hailed from Randolph, Illinois, a metropolis of about 1300, no doubt the cultural and economic center of the Midwest. Mark and his pretty young wife came to the big city for a night together in the bright lights and gaiety of Broad Ripple, the nightclub scene in Indianapolis. They started at the Comedy Shop and after dinner, they were ready to go back to their hotel at 11:30. They had enjoyed their night out and were ready to spend the rest a quiet evening in each other’s company away from the demands of their two children, ages five and two. I know this because those kids were a large part of our conversation. They love those kids and, if you could see as I did, the adoration when their eyes met, you’d realize you were in presence of something special. Mark and Patty drove back to Randoph the next day, secure in their love for each other and their little family, untroubled by the image they might project to anyone else.
If you will permit an observation by a simple taxi driver, happiness is not dependent on others’ perception of us nor is it all that complicated. Rather than a frenzied quest, happiness is really a quiet thing.