The Lure of the Ideal


A page turns.  The glossy pictures, airbrushed to perfection, appeal tantalizingly to the senses.  Lust grows in the heart and mind of the observer.  Page after page of images imbed themselves in the reader’s mind.   They will not easily leave.  Long after the magazine is rotting at the bottom of a pile, those images will burn more than just the heart.

Escape into a fantasy world.  Perfection is achieved on every front.  The longer one lingers, the deeper the desire for the impossible.  The lingering gaze at the perfect woman.  The deep desire for the forbidden grows in the heart of the fantasizer.  Just a few more stolen minutes before reality crushes a dream world.

Dissatisfaction.  Impatience.  Irritation.  Reality encroaches on the idyllic.  Anger seethes under the surface.

Pornography.  No, not the stuff of the Heffner empire.  I am not writing of ‘pornea’ in the strictest sense.  I am writing of the coveteousnes of homeschooling women.  The deep desire for what we do not have, and often for what we cannot have is the ‘baptized’ version of pornography for ‘good godly women’. 

How many times has the Vision Forum catalog appeared in a home.  The harried homeschooling mother takes the catalog and puts her feet up for ten minutes as she thumbs through the pages.  Beautifully dressed children, perfect women, and godly men who surely never leave their dirty socks on the couch grace the pages.  There is no laundry piled in the hamper.  There is no hamper.  The children smile and eagerly work on their lessons while a perfectly coiffed and manicured mother beams beatifically at them as she pulls a pie from the oven.

Mom ignores the unfinished lessons, the pile of bills, and the fact she hasn’t brushed her own hair yet, and imagines a world where her husband instinctively knows her emotional needs and meets them before they wound her spirit.  Her children delight in serving her and she, in her spiritual and emotional maturity is a tender and gentle nurturer.  Her husband boasts her praises to all who will listen.  Her children feel sorry for anyone who does not have ‘their’ mother.  Somehow, she tends a garden, grows wheat, bakes bread, keeps house, teaches school, and takes meals to anyone in need while wearing a white dress sewn from a Sensibility pattern in her spare time one afternoon.

Reality returns with a vengance.  Dinner isn’t started, the children are wearing stained pajamas, and you can’t see the floor for the Rice Krispies that the baby scattered. 

Another hand turns a page.  A heart races.  Desires grow.  Each moment that lingers creates a magnetic pull nearly impossible to resist.

The magazine enflames a smoldering desire.  Families of seven, eight, twelve, and even fourteen children smile back from the pages.  Beckoning.  A glance across the room at four squabbling children creates a longing.  No more children.  He’s so selfish.  The deam of a large and godly family overwhelms the reader until she is lost in her own dream world.

Eight perfect children serve the Lord in song.  Squabbles are a distant memory.  With new babies came new love and appreciation for one another.  Her husband beams with pride as their sons serve their daughters.  She feels that private smile of contentment shine on her face as her daughters serve their sons with appreciative devotedness.   The baby wails.  Their children lovingly encourage him to ‘hush and meet his needs joyfully.

The baby screams bringing her back to reality.  Her filthy house, disobedient children, and lack of motivation press down on her.  She wants the dream.  She needs the dream.  If she only had another baby it might happen for her. 

How many homeschooling mothers have received this year’s crop of curricula catalogs only to feel that tugging dissatisfaction.  They see the glowing testimonials of perfect results and envy invades their hearts.  If only her husband would let her do unit studies.  The children would flourish if they could take a more active role in their education.  Oh, if he would only help them.  Become involved.  Oh they could be a model homeschooling family if they only had…

Let’s be honest with ourselves.  How many hours do we spend each week (or day!) gazing at catalogs that feed our desires, reading books by families who have (at least in our minds) achieved the perfection we so desperately seek, researching new techniques, ideas, and products to create a world of educational bliss.  What is reality while we do this?   While we create a home centered utopia of homeschooled, home birthed, home grown, home baked, home churched homebodies in our mind, what is our real life like?

We decry the effect of pornography in the world today but do we ignore our own covetous ‘porn’ and fantasy world?  Do we forget that one can lust after perfection, beauty, and emotional fulfillment just as much as we can lust after the flesh?

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