What can I say about Donald Miller's blog post that hasn't already been said?
I was almost tempted to say nothing because I genuinely don't like a fuss and Don has taken the trouble of removing his words from his usually excellent site.
Then I read his retraction statement and I thought for a while.....
If our the Blue Like Jazz author had perhaps retracted the sentiment he had written then I probably would not have responded any further, but it appears that he has intentions of republishing his thoughts at another time.
In light of this I offer you (1) his retraction statement, (2) his original article.
I have enjoyed Donald's work in the past but I am, as a father of four daughters, saddened by what these words reveal about his view of women as needing to be validated by men.
(1) His retraction statement
‘Last week I wrote a couple blogs about living a good love story. As many of you know, I write blogs on a whim. Essentially, I’m thinking out loud. What I never expected was to incur the amount of traffic the blog received. And for that matter, the feedback both negative and positive.
To be honest, I wrote the blogs and never reread them, even after all the traffic. I’m writing books at the moment and didn’t feel the need to go back. I write blogs, misspellings and all, as a way of journaling through ideas. That said, after receiving critical feedback from people I greatly respect (along with support from people I greatly respect) I feared a backlash. Not a personal backlash, mind you, but a backlash against the actual ideas the blog presented. That is, I feared many would say “who are you to tell me how to live or how to love, I’m going to do anything I want.”
I’ve seen this sort of backlash before in other arenas. I’m convinced a number of preachers drive as many people away from Jesus as they invite toward Jesus through the harshness of their rhetoric. I’m not interested, then, in driving people away from a good love story simply because I used language and presented ideas they found offensive. Especially when the ideas were generated in no more than half an hour.
Another reason to take the blog down is that love and sexuality is complicated. To address sexual matters, especially, is often a graceless conversation, and yet a conversation that can only be healing in a tone of complete and utter grace. My blog, while straight and toned to the language many use while talking over a beer, lacked the tone of grace. That was an enormous mistake on my part.
That said, I’ll be revamping the blog posts into some sort of file that I can release to the public in time. I assure you, I’ll be checking with my harshest critics before doing so to make sure I’m not offending more people than I honestly care to offend, and that the article brings more light than heat to the topic.
If anything I said personally offended you, will you accept my deepest and most sincere apology? My romantic and sexual history is dismal, which is nothing I hide because I am covered and confident of the grace of God. I’m not interested and see no benefit in shaming anybody. Any shame that was conveyed, I assure you, was unintentional and that sort of rhetoric has never worked to make me a better or more pure man and I’ve no interest in using it as a tool.
With much love and sincere appreciation,
(2) How to live a Great Love Story, Vol 1 (For the Girls)
Living a great love story doesn’t look like winning the lottery, it looks like training for a marathon. It’s hard work and you have to do the work long before you ever meet Mr. Right, otherwise you’ll be the girl who shows up for the marathon having eaten a gallon of ice cream every night, listening to Taylor Swift songs and watching love stories about vampires. No good man can run with that girl, not for much longer than a mile.
In movies and books, there are formulas for great love stories. Not all movies follow them, but we can depend on a variation on certain themes. They go something like this:
1. Boy meets girl.
2. Boy falls in love with girl.
3. Girl is a bit hesitant knowing her heart is tender and could get hurt.
4. Boy proves himself strong enough to handle and defend her heart.
5. Girl trusts boy and they live happily ever after.
All love stories are different, of course, but these are central themes that weave in and out of the good ones. And if they don’t, the stories are normally tragedies.
Juliet does not trust Romeo right away, for instance, but he pursues her and he wins her love. The same goes with the characters in The Notebook and Twilight (I confess I labored through both) and in the great romantic novels of Jane Eyrie and Charles Dickens and so on and so on.
So, if these are the principles of a great love story, how do we play them out in our lives? How do we live a great love story? Here are some suggestions:
1. Don’t hook up: Girls shouldn’t make it too easy on the guy. Don’t hook up, in other words. A recent article in Scientific American revealed when a girl hooks up with a guy, she esteems him very highly. She may think of him as powerful or famous, somebody who is strong. But the opposite is actually true from the guys perspective. Guys hook up with girls they find less attractive and sexually easy. All they want is sex, and so if they perceive she will give them sex and then get out of their lives, they are going to jump at the chance. The girl may feel very wanted and beautiful but the truth is he’s insulting her. If he thought of her with respect, he’d sit and ask questions about her life and her family. He’d try to get to know her because he wants to develop a friendship and perhaps a romantic relationship. In other words, guys don’t hook up with girls they would marry. They marry the girls they get nervous around and are made to pursue.
So, if you become a “hook up” girl you get labeled, in the minds of guys as a girl you really don’t have to fight for. And when your husband finds out you were the “hook up” girl he’s going to have to have a lot of grace, which is fine, it just puts you in the category of “charity” in his mind and not “equal” or “partner.” He may still love you, but he will have serious questions about whether you’re in the kind of shape it takes to run a marathon. Unless you get over it and move on and do a period of time where you put it all behind you, he will and honestly should lose respect for you. Respect is not free. Respect is earned. Grace is free, but grace and respect are different.
2. Make him work for it: When a guy is made to fight for a girl, he esteems her much more highly. She becomes more attractive in his eyes, and for that matter she becomes more attractive to other men, too. That said, most of the time this will backfire because lots of guys are just looking for cheap and slutty sex and for her to get lost afterward. Still, it’s your chance to weed them out. And believe me, girls, there are a lot of weeds.
3. Weed them out: Guys who are just looking for a hook up need to hit the road. By weeding them out you definitely end up with a smaller pool of guys to choose from. It’s unfortunate and that is truly bad news. But there’s good news, too. There are fewer girls with the strength to not have one night stands, and those girls become much, much more attractive to men. Those are the girls who present a challenge, and who are esteemed more highly. These are the girls guys recognize as the kind of women they want to partner with in raising a family. In other words, it’s a great strategy to be more attractive to a smaller group than cheap and easy to a larger group. Plus, the stronger guys are up for the work while the weaker guys are just trying to get laid.
4. Be willing to suffer: What this means for you is that your love story needs to have a lot of lonely crying in it. Believe it or not, there will come a day when a man will fall madly in love with you and you will have the honor of sitting down with him one special night to explain that, while you weren’t perfect, you turned down plenty of guys and and cried yourself to sleep hoping somebody would come around and treat you with respect. He will be honored by this, and he will love you and feel humbled. If he doesn’t have the same story, he will feel intensely convicted and unworthy. You’ll really be giving him the foundation he needs to love your heart.
5. Have some faith: I’ve noticed that most women who complain a good man won’t come along are actually interested in the wrong guys. They make lists of their perfect gentleman coming to rescue them meanwhile they’re hooking up with guys who have a track record of just having sex with random women. Really? Your husband won’t really care what you say, he will care what you do. We tell our love stories with our actions, not our words. Life isn’t a Taylor Swift song, with all the hardship left out. It works more like a Normal Mailer novel, with all the gritty garbage left in. Stop falling for the romantic version of life, and start realizing that a romantic story is told with an enormous amount of pain, sacrifice, suffering and patience.
6. Don’t be thirteen: Unless you’re thirteen, ladies, grow up. Many women claim that men just won’t grow up, but then you sit and talk to them and realize they haven’t grown up either. They aren’t strong enough to demand something more from their men. They aren’t strong enough to say no to a guy who just wants to use them. These are all elements of immaturity. And it’s the stuff of a bad love story. A good man will attract a good woman. And a victim will attract a predator. Stop acting like a victim. If you want a strong man who can protect you and your children, stop trolling for predators by crying all the time. Act like a dignified woman who believes her company is valuable and should come at a price.
So, if you want a great love story, start training for it today. Start suffering, like somebody training for a marathon. Do the pain, suffer through the nights where you cry in your pillow, have some faith and stop cheapening your love story with scenes you’ll never be able to edit out.
You’re love story may not work, it’s true. Plenty of them don’t. But the chances of your love story succeeding are greatly increased when, on race day, you can actually run.
So, what do you do if you’ve completely screwed this up:
1. Be honest about it. Don’t hide it. If you went through a slutty season, don’t act like you were a helpless victim, a sweet girl who got caught up. You probably weren’t. A confession and an excuse are entirely different. Excuses talk about being hurt or drunk or being lied to. Confessions start with a radical and real understanding of how bad your human nature actually is and how you were caught up in a selfish search for validation and pleasure. Don’t lie to yourself and don’t lie to him. Don’t act like the sweet girl who “accidentally made twenty-five mistakes.” He won’t trust you because what you say and what you’ve done are different.
No good man is going to marry a woman with multiple personalities. And besides that, you’d be surprised at how much unbelievable trust you can build by being brutally honest. You shouldn’t share a bunch of details, but you should definitely share you went through a slutty season and have very few, if any, excuses. But now you want more. Now you want to put that behind you and build a love story. Honesty is very rare, and an honest girl is a girl you can build a family with, regardless of her past. I really mean this, too. If you’re brutally honest about your motives (keep the details vague, ladies. I’m serious about this. He doesn’t need visual images) then you ARE BUILDING TRUST and he can love you. If you play the victim, he’s going to walk away. And he should. A victim is great material for a counselor, but not for a husband.
2. Find out why you did what you did. Why are you capable of having sex without love or commitment? What are you using sex to accomplish? When those questions are a mystery to you, you aren’t healthy enough to get married and no good man should marry you. Those questions need to be answered and understood in a way that the two of you can build on as a foundation
3. Start training for the freaking marathon. Marriage is the hardest job you’ll ever have. It works nothing like a hookup. The sex is more sloppy and vulnerable and affected by all kinds of emotional contexts. If you’re used to one off sex acts where you’re having crazy experiences, you’re husband is never going to be able to match up because, well, he’s got to stick around and do the laundry and argue with you about the electricity bill. That’s not sexy stuff, that’s the stuff of real love stories. It feels boring in the moment, but twenty years in you’ll be crying your eyes out over this man who stuck with you through the thick and thin and who honestly didn’t care that you got fat! Why not give yourself to the one who didn’t care whether you got fat than give yourself to the one who makes you feel like you’ve got to throw up after eating a lolly-pop? That kind of love story sucks so stop living it!
4. Work through your need to be validated by men. You’re going to marry a man, not men. So cut the slutty dresses and facebook photos. Start acting like a woman a man can partner with to build a family, not a woman who would make a great romp on a drunk and emotionally foggy friday night. And stop using alcohol as an excuse. Nobody gets drunk and accidentally sleeps with a hamster. You know what you’re doing, drunk or not, so cut it out. In other words, become the woman who fits the character in the love story you want to live.
5. Don’t act. Don’t pretend. Don’t pretend to be a wholesome girl who is starting over when you’re secretly still wanting to hook up. These changes need to be internal and they need to be real. You are going to have to go through the withdrawal of using guys for validation. If it helps, just know you’ll stand before God one day and you want him to be proud of you. That’s the only thing that helped me stop validating myself with women. I couldn’t do it for Paige, but I could do it for God. Turns out God loves Paige more than I do. Go figure. Anyway, get over the acting part and start doing the real living part. Every great story demands enormous sacrifice. Start sacrificing your validation with other men to make a real love story happen.
Tell a great love story and you’ll dazzle the world. Do the work and enjoy the benefits. The world needs some great love stories, but few people are willing to do what it takes to tell them. No wonder we all love them so much.
Do you want a great love story. Do you want to run the marathon it takes to be married to the same man after fifty years. Do you want him to look you in the eyes with so much respect it bring tears to his. If you do, start training for the marathon. No good story comes easy. A great love story is still possible. Go for it!