Discussions about 50 Shades of Grey seem to be everywhere, ad nauseam. I have been wrestling whether or not to jump into the conversation but I decided I could no longer keep silent as I am passionate about helping people have better relationships and I think there are a few issues that haven’t been addressed yet (believe it or not!) … so here goes.
First, I love the color Gray (note the difference in spelling) because Gray is NOT black or white. Gray is Not “either/or” – Gray is “both/and” – one of my favorite concepts! The color Gray has so many shades and nuances that I love. The controversy, conversation, popularity surrounding these books has really wreaked havoc on one of my best word pictures!
Gray is gentle, forgiving, and blurred edges. Gray is possibility, inclusion, and acceptance.
[Tweet: Gray is gentle, forgiving, and blurred edges. Gray is possibility, inclusion, and acceptance. Gray offers Grace.“]
Gray, in forty-nine to a hundred shades, has saved me from soul searing perfectionism, arrogant judgment, and alienating “my way or the highway” stands. There is no contempt in Gray.
Gray offers Grace.
So imagine my chagrin when this beautiful, life-giving concept and metaphor got tangled up in a worldwide controversy. And what is it about 50 Shades of Grey that so… intriguing?
My sense is that women are responding to this book and movie because we all crave better relationships… and there something about 50 Shades that dangles like a carrot in front of our eyes. We love when sparks fly; sizzle and excitement awaken us. And sparks can certainly help create a better relationship, in the bedroom, laundry room, and even the kitchen!
However, sparks are tricky, one minute your candle is lit and then suddenly your house is on fire. The beauty and warmth of an ignited flame draws us in, but if we aren’t cautious, the ember explodes wreaking havoc, soot, and sorrow in its wake, destroying the very intimacy we crave.
Here’s the thing, of course we want to experience the thrill of being chosen and pursued, it’s how God created us. But too often we are chilled, disconnected, and unsatisfied by a lack of intimacy, and in desperation we grasp at anything that offers a glimpse of what we long for. This is what breaks my heart…we settle for less than and give up hope that our relationship can be better… full of intimacy- and not just sex… but an intermingling of soul, mind, and body. (In fact, that’s when it’s best!)
I think the world (particularly Hollywood) serves up a cheap imitation of real thing… beautifully packaged, on a silver platter, but counterfeit, nonetheless. I often fall for it, too; the “if only I were _____ then I’d feel whole (or at least not so empty). Shiny objects, fantasy, and simulated love promise short cuts and quick fixes, so, we pull out our credit cards, mortgage our souls…hopeful and anxious to fill an aching void. Hearts stirred, bodies aroused, we buy the illusion, and sadly substitute enchantment for authenticity. Fairy tales would be far more honest if they ended, “and they lived, mostly, kinda, sorta happily ever after!”
But 50 Shades isn’t a book I’ve actually read. You see, a couple of years ago I started the book because I heard some women say it was a “must read.” But a few pages in, I stopped. I got to the part where there was a “dominant/submissive agreement” that needed to be signed, and I realized it wasn’t healthy for me to read. I needed to stop; it wasn’t for me.
Why? Because untangling our stories, beliefs, past harm, positive experiences, as well as the onslaught of messages from the world and media, makes it exponentially harder to figure out what healthy, enjoyable, soul enriching, heart knitting and body satisfying sex is.
That said, I think sex is great! Love making… even better! And 32 years into marriage- all facets of intimacy- continue to be an adventure. When we mingle bodies and souls, we are exchanging, creating, and impacting each other… and that is as unique as the two people in the relationship. John and I are still figuring it out… but were doing it together.
Together… the operative word, in my humble option. Together we are figuring out soul-filled, sexual intimacy, grounded in friendship, trust and love. Together, we have slogged through discussions, with trusted counselors and friends, with questions, conversation and utter awkwardness. It requires honesty, vulnerability and commitment to embrace and enjoy the wonder that God created sex to be. It hasn’t always been easy. In fact, it’s been a tough journey, and I imagine we aren’t done… getting older changes things… again! But we continue… to be present, engaged, and vulnerable, learning each other and loving each other. Just him and me. Because relationships can get better, there is hope, when done together – with mutual respect and love.
And that is what I have to say about 50 Shades of Grey. And, really? Why couldn’t his name have been Purple!?