Jane Eyre

Last Wednesday, given February vacation in the local school system, I held the second annual Girls’ Night In slumber party for the youth group girls of Now Church. Only three of them showed up, plus Miss Jean who came to help out. Although any combination of any of the girls in the youth group would have been great (they’re all fantastic kids), I really enjoyed having just three of them. I am decidedly a one-to-one/small-group kind of person, and any semi-conscious stress I might have been feeling at the prospect of chaos and crowding dissipated as soon as the three girls got to my house and I realised they were the only ones who would.

We ate pizza and gave ourselves facials and put our hands through a 4-step moisturisation process and painted our toenails. (Well–I didn’t paint my toenails because I got lazy, but I almost did.) Then we watched Jane Eyre. This was at my suggestion and Miss Jean’s subsequent command; the girls had never heard of it before. I told them I thought they would love it. I also told them it was very long. And so they did. And so it was. Even though we didn’t any of us get to bed until 3 a.m. on account of it, I don’t think anyone regretted it, and one of the girls actually asked to borrow my copy of the novel to see if she might want to read it.

I was inordinately pleased by this. I have decided that my primary life’s calling is to introduce people to Jesus and then help encourage and facilitate their relationship with Him (the more abbreviated churchy terms for these activities are evangelism and discipleship). But I’m pretty sure my secondary calling is to get teenagers in touch with their inner nerd. It’s actually not that hard with this particular youth group . . .

Anyway, since we watched that movie I’ve been mulling the story over on and off, and recalling that I fell in love with Mr. Rochester when I first read the novel in eighth grade, and so perhaps it’s not that surprising that I gravitate toward men with dark pasts who seem, to me, in need of rescuing.

Then I started musing about the stereotypical feminine wish to “reform” men. I remember learning about Lord Byron in my Victorian literature class in college and thinking what an insufferable cad he was and how silly that woman was who loved him and wanted to change him, and by whom he occasionally wished to be changed. Also, I wasn’t that impressed by his poetry. I made a mental note that people can’t change people. But the thing is, I still prefer castle ruins and fairy tales like Beauty and the Beast or Snow White and Rose Red to Windsor Castle and fairy tales like Cinderella or just plain Snow White.

Yesterday I was thinking about this as I drove through the snow to church, simultaneously wishing for a snow day (I guess it wasn’t an overly holy ride to church). I was wondering what was wrong with me–and so many other intelligent women–regarding our penchant for reforming men when said men so often do not wish to be reformed. Psychologists and psychiatrists probably have their own theories. Mine does; she thinks I have low self-esteem. But to me it seems more like inflated self-esteem: who am I to think I can “save” somebody?

To some extent, I don’t believe I do imagine I can save somebody. But I know that Jesus can, and every once in a while I manage some childlike faith and expect that, since God loves whatever man I happen to be involved with at the time, and since He loves him more than I do, and since He doesn’t want anyone to perish, He’s going to save that guy, and I’m going to be fortunate enough to be there.

But there is a little bit of me that is overweening, too, because sometimes I catch myself thinking I can “save” somebody–maybe not in an ultimate and eternal sense, but . . . something close. For some reason yesterday I imagined it comes simply from being a Daughter of Eve, as CS Lewis called womankind. Though I believe Adam and Eve were both equally culpable in their sin, I wonder if Eve ever felt either extra guilt or extra pride (or both) that she was the one who sinned first. Maybe we feel like we have to make up for something. Maybe when God promised that one of her descendants would crush the serpent’s head, all women wished to be the bearer of that One who would change the world. But we’re just ourselves, and while some of us, it turns out, do bear Him (differently than Mary did), sometimes we forget who the Saviour is and wish to do it ourselves.

(I suspect I may need to come up with some sort of coding mechanism for my blogs so you’ll know when I’m thinking through something seriously and when I’m just rambling on, one degree removed from stream of consciousness. Numbers, maybe. Or colour-coding like the terrorist alerts?)

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2 thoughts on “Jane Eyre

  1. Really liked this blog and resonated with it–although I did not marry one of those Mr. Rochester-type men! 🙂

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