By Ginny Luedeman
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
One lovely young woman, 20 men from all walks of life, and a few guidelines set the scene for the latest round of Reality TV. Each of the men wore masks like the "Phantom of the Opera" throughout the dating process. By the end of five episodes, "Hayley" must choose "Mr. Right" based upon his character, not his looks.
Fast forward. Today, the day of the finale, two masked suitors remain, Will and Chris. Perhaps a meeting with Hayley's family has helped solidify who has won her affections.
This is the newest in a creative attempt at capturing the hearts and minds of today's television audience.
My intellectual husband refuses to watch Reality TV (but he always asks who was chosen), my 30-something children are fascinated, and I find that the now not-so-new programs are worth watching long enough to figure out why not to watch. I justify my viewing (if I get hooked, and in this case I did) by the fact that it helps me connect with a generation that enjoys these shows, and that's worth a lot in a big multigenerational family.
Episode No. 1 of "Mr. Personality" got this grandmother to thinking. After the 20 men had been reduced to 10 suitors, my husband and I settled into our evening visiting time. I asked him if I'd put a mask on before we met, would he have chosen me out of 20 women? He got a hard shove when he thoughtfully answered that he "really wasn't sure and that it would depend." On what I dared not ask.
But my thought had been stirred. Sleep eluded me as I thought about what we love in others. If a person we loved were completely changed physically, would we feel the same love?
At one time in my life I was looking for love. I thought it could be found in physical relationships. Sex can involve such intense emotions that that's where many people turn for love. But sex and love are not synonymous. I ended up feeling used and unappreciated. I became fearful of men and uncertain of my place in relationships. In hindsight, I didn't appreciate myself and was asking others to give me value by making me feel loved. That didn't work. I needed to find my own worth.
Prayer and soul-searching led me to an amazing book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy. This statement arrested my thought and caused me to look deeper for love and self-worth: "The sensualist's affections are as imaginary, whimsical, and unreal as his pleasures" (pg. 241).
I concluded that if the pleasures of the senses are false and imaginary, I didn't want them. I didn't want something ultimately unreal. My turmoil was telling me that I needed and wanted a more spiritual and lasting love on which to build a life worth living.
Making a list of qualities constituting true manhood and womanhood was instrumental in helping me understand my worth. I made a list of 74 qualities we express, such as integrity, purity, faithfulness, strength, meekness, and warmth. Knowing God as the source of spiritual qualities, I realized that because God is everywhere, these qualities belong to everyone everywhere now, and no one is dependent upon another to get them. Each individual is already complete. These qualities constitute each person's God-created individuality.
This growing understanding was freeing and satisfying. Gradually my relationships became more moral and happier. I gained self-respect, and I met a man who had the same values I was cherishing in myself. We were almost instantly in love. He asked me to marry him 10 days after we met. That was 34 wonderful years ago, which may explain why the mask on "Mr. Personality" might not stand in the way of true love, but might make it more possible.
An attempt to connect with someone based on his or her character rather than physical appearance is a step in the right direction and worth considering. The next step is gaining an understanding of our unchanging spiritual identities, beyond human personality. Our spiritual nature is changeless and always reflects God's goodness. The understanding of our spiritual qualities, which constitutes our spiritual nature, unites us, and because, as God's creation we include all good, we can discover and cherish those qualities in ourselves and others. And in that cherishing, mask or no mask, we will naturally be united with those who share our blessings.
Copyright©2004 The Christian Science Publishing Society, All rights reserved, Reproduced with permission.
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