Thursday, April 23, 2015

What I Learned About Marriage From Gilbert Blythe

I don't remember exactly how old I was when I first watched Anne of Green Gables, but I know I've now seen it more times than I can count. For the longest time it was my go-to movie whenever I was sick. Who doesn't love the comfort of Avonlea when your fever is rising and your nose won't quit running? Because I am the only girl in my family, I even convinced one of my brothers to appreciate the story of Anne, Gilbert, Diana, Marilla, and Matthew (his wife can thank me for his enjoyment in classics like these).

With the many other fans of Anne of Green Gables I have been reminiscing about all that Anne of Green Gables meant to me as we learned of the sudden death of Jonathan Crombie, the man who played Gilbert Blythe. Like many women my age, I can count Gil as one of my first fictional crushes. I remember watching his often tense and teasing interactions with Anne and hoping that one day I could marry someone who loved me as passionately as Gil did.

A lot of my expectations of my future husband were fueled by unrealistic expectations at best, and a man in my own image at worst. But there is one thing about Gil and Anne's relationship that I'm thankful I have in my own.

Unwavering support.

I'm pretty sure the writing bug bit me in part because of Anne of Green Gables. As a young girl, I enjoyed pretending and telling a story, but seeing Anne publish, teach, and work at her craft really gave me a vision for writing that stayed with me over the years. I wanted to do the same thing. She wasn't like the other girls, and Gil loved that about her. But he also loved her enough to help her get better at her vocation--her writing.

Writers don't like being critiqued. At least I don't often appreciate it at first. It's painful. It feels like someone is tearing at part of your soul. A writer feels like her work is part of her and to tell her it's not good, or doesn't make sense, can feel like you are saying she doesn't make sense. When Gil told Anne to write about Avonlea, the place they both loved, it hurt her at first. But he was right. He knew the story that was inside of her and he was pushing her to allow it to come out. He believed in her writing.

I'm thankful that Daniel does the same for me, even though I might resent his criticism at first. At the end of the day no one believes in my writing more. No one believes in the words that are inside of me more than him. When I'm sloppy or unclear, he knows I can do better. When I'm tempted to compromise or cut corners out of fear of man, he knows I know the truth and challenges me to hold fast to it. He is my toughest critic and my greatest fan--which makes the often bitter pill of criticism easier to swallow.

I didn't marry a man who fights with me passionately like Gil did with Anne, although I thought that is what I needed when I was a young, passionate, and romantic girl. But I did marry a man who supports me as a writer and encourages me to write for God's glory and true to who I am. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

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