Love and Leopards

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I couldn’t resist the title just so I could feature Laguna, my cute little Valentine. But it’s more than that. I’m posing the question – can a leopard change its spots?

The past couple of weeks with competing movies. One about an abusive boyfriend and the other a reformed bad boy turned good guy. For all of it’s faults, the first movie has put a focus on women being in bad relationships, even abusive ones. I’m so glad this topic has come to light.

The archetype of the “Bad Boy” is a popular. But what is the appeal of bringing home a guy like that? His wealth, success, or attractiveness make up for it? Rebellion? A need to control? A need to fix something? Or maybe that the woman thinks she doesn’t deserve any better.

One reason women like bad boys is because they want to be the ones to change them, tame them, turn them good. But no woman can change a man. Neither can a man change a woman. As much as women love the “Bad Boy” there’s also appeal in pygmalion whether it’s My Fair Lady or Pretty Woman.

In books and movies, I don’t find the bad boy to be particularly attractive. Less so if he’s bad for most of the book or movie, and the heroine is the one to tame him. The reformed guy with a wild past holds a bit more appeal. Someone once broken and flawed is endearing especially if it makes him even more honorable. When it comes to female characters, I have to admit pulling for girl from the wrong side of the tracks whether it’s Annie, Pretty in Pink, Anne of Green Gables, or Redeeming Love.

But the question is can people change? Or is a leopard always spotted?

Someone unrefined can be cultured. Convicts can go straight. Prostitutes can become respectable women. Alcoholics get sober. Addicts can get clean. Abusers can become loving partners. Anyone can change. Some people can turn their lives around by sheer will and determination but more often it requires Divine intervention.

In that way, every single one of us who knows Christ has changed. We were born into this world sinful creatures. More leper than leopard. Through His redemptive blood we are all new creations. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18, ESV)

The answer is yes. A person may change their behaviors and habits, but true redeeming change requires God. Not from someone else, no matter how they love the person. If you are in an abusive relationship. Get out. Get safe. And get that person help. If you are in a relationship with someone who is addicted. Encourage them to get help. Find a support group for yourself. And above all else pray. Because God can change anyone.

 

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Review of “Dating Like Airplanes”

As a cheerleader for abstinence and renewed abstinence, I get really excited when something or someone—an organization, a book, a curriculum, a speaker, a movement—comes along who champions a Christ-centered approach to dating and relationships. So I was thrilled at the opportunity to review Caleb Breakey’s latest book “Dating Like Airplanes”. I must admit my curious nature was piqued by the comparison of dating to airplanes. I know it’s been a while since I dated but airplanes?

The book’s cover ponders the question “why just fall in love when you can fly?” promising an alternative to the experience most people long for. I mean, who doesn’t want to fall in love, be totally and completely swept off your feet then live happily-ever-after? Falling is the easy part. Being swept off your feet isn’t hard either. It’s the happily-ever-after that trips us up. But Caleb points out how the “falling in love” that most people seek after isn’t what leads to the “happily-ever-after” that we assume automatically follows.

The theme of the book centers around discovering the meaning of and applying to our relationships this one statement:

     “flying is about giving your special other what he or she needs most instead of taking what you want now.”

Sounds simple, right? Just don’t be selfish. Duh. We’ve been working on that since kindergarten.

But it’s more than that. And it’s tougher than sharing the mega-sized Legos or taking turns at going down the slide. But the return is soooooooo much better than the gold star for playing well with others your parents hung on the refrigerator years ago.

With transparency and depth, Caleb shares his own experiences of falling and how he discovered a better way. Flying.

Here’s an excerpt from the book –
“When you fall, you’re out of control. There’s no slowing down. Nothing to hold on to. And no way to choose where you land—or crash. Gravity pulls you down, and your dominant thought is, Will I survive this?

When you fly, you have stability. There’s gliding and swooping. You’re at once carefree and precise. Flying is graceful, swift, and efficient. And when gravity pulls you down, your prevalent thought is, Where should I land?

             Flying still requires that you take a risk of the heart. But it’s a risk entirely different from that of falling.”

Caleb’s note at the beginning of the book is spot-on. He writes—

“So whether you’re years away from a relationship, invested in one right now, or feel as though you’re  too broken to ever try again, today is the day to rise to a love that’s greater than yourself.”

The truths shared in this book are for anyone and everyone, young or old, in a relationship now or looking toward future relationships. Those beginning the dating/relationship journey will likely save themselves untold grief by putting this advice into practice. But even days after I finished the book, examples of how my marriage could benefit from these principles continued to come to mind.

Check out “Dating Like Airplanes”. The special people in your life now—and in the future—will thank you!