To some, Runaway Bride is just a funny movie. To me… it was a story about… me. Thankfully, I have never left a man at the altar, but I have had recurring nightmares about it. I cannot tell you the number of times I have woken up with feelings of dread and anxiety after fleeing from the altar with reckless abandon.
Once, I dreamed that my parents walked me down the aisle and then both marched out of the back doors of the church (I’m thinking they weren’t real happy with my groom selection). Another time, I dreamed I had to walk up a circular flight of stairs to get to the altar – and when I got to the top, I ran back down desperately looking for Eric. I’m sure it was a relief to wake up married to the right guy that morning! Then, there was the time I dreamed a committee was sitting in a circle at the altar deciding whether or not I could get married. And those are just a few of my wedding day nightmares. There have been tons of “Oh, no! What am I doing?! I cannot marry him!” dreams – far too many to recall.
Maggie Carpenter, Julia Robert’s character in Runaway Bride, lived my nightmares. Though she was only a character in a movie, I know there are thousands of women who get to the doors of the church, see their groom waiting, and push down an intense feeling of horror. I wish no one ever had to go through that. And, I’m sure there are thousands of men who have watched women in white walk towards them as they stand there secretly dreading what’s to come in their future.
I Am Every Woman
I guess you could say this movie did not have a surprise theme or ending. Two people who started out hating each other fell in love – a common movie plot. Instead, my love of this movie certainly has nothing to do with its originality; but, I love it because of how much I relate to the main character.
No, I did not have men running after me in droves to propose, but I did become someone I wasn’t when I was in relationships. In fact, it was somewhat effortless. I didn’t lie awake at night and wonder, “How can I make boyfriend X like me more?” I just naturally morphed into someone else – whoever he wanted me to be. As you can imagine, I have always hated the phrase, “Just be yourself.” I have wanted to respond, “And just who the heck am I?”
When Ike, Richard Gere’s character, was running around town trying to find out more information about Maggie (if you haven’t seen this movie, pop some popcorn and enjoy!), he asked her ex-fiancés one unusual question: “How did Maggie like her eggs?” Some of their responses included, “Poached – same as me.” “Scrambled with salt, pepper, and dill – same as me.” It seemed she just tagged along with whomever she was dating at the time without having a real sense of who she was or what she wanted out of life.
Then, the moment of truth came. She came to the doors of the church, saw their faces, realized she could not marry them, and then bolted. Most people assumed she was either a cruel woman who enjoyed hurting men or that she had severe mental and/or emotional problems. I just saw her as a woman who wanted to love, be loved, and find the right man; but, she didn’t know who she was – and how can you pick the “right man” if you don’t know who you are or what you need?
The Power of Figuring Out Who You Are
I feel a movie-fest coming on. The more I type, the more I want to watch this movie again! One of the most moving scenes was at the end when she “turned in her running shoes” to Ike. She had done all the soul-searching she needed to do. She had put feet to her own dreams and opened up a store for her inventions. She even figured out what kind of eggs she liked.
So, she found Ike, handed him a box, and he pulled out her old, dirty running shoes. Though I’m not sure if she actually used those shoes every time she ran away from a groom, the symbolism is touching anyway. ~smile~ It was her way of saying, “I have figured out who I am and what I want, and I have clearly decided that what I want is you.” At this point, they were able to connect honestly and completely. No lies. No walls. Just two imperfect, completely exposed people ready to make a marriage work.
All Fear is Gone
To know that your sweetie is choosing you with a clear mind is such a comforting feeling. Some would marry just about anyone to escape loneliness. And as nice as it is to receive attention from possible suitors, it is far nicer when you know they are interested in you – not simply interested in a warm body. Women want to be considered unique and special by their men. Men want to be appreciated for their fine skills and abilities and not accepted for marriage simply because they are available.
But when you meet someone like Eric – someone who really knows who he is and what he wants – you will know that he (or she) is choosing you because you are exactly what he (or she) is seeking. To know if someone is a good match for you, you need to first take time to find out who you are. Are you shy? Are you outgoing? What kind of music do you like? Do you have a hard time saying no? Do you hope to see people you know when you are out shopping, or do you duck and hide so you can pay and leave? Do you like outdoor sports? Would you rather read even if everyone else was outside having fun? How do you like your eggs?
So, take your cues from Maggie. Before you even consider getting married, take yourself out on some dates. Ask yourself some probing questions. Most importantly, answer them honestly. If you don’t know certain aspects of your personality, set off to discover them. Spend an hour in a large crowd and then spend an hour in peace and quiet. Which one did you prefer? Which one made you feel the most energized?
Once you are confident that you know who God created you to be, then you can make an increasingly educated decision when choosing a spouse. ~smile~ Don’t wait until you are walking down the aisle, or waiting for your bride at the altar, to realize you are not who you have pretended to be.
Find out who you are and turn in your running shoes. ~smile~
And when you get close to that point of engagement, Eric and I would love to work with you both to go even deeper in your understanding of yourselves and each other through our pre-engagement counseling program.
Do you truly know who you are, or are you trying to be someone you are not?