I recently finished the book, Jane Eyre. If you have read the novel, you know that near the end of the book, Jane finds herself in a difficult and painful dilemma. Alone in the world, an orphan from a young age, Jane has her first experience with mutual love. She is about to marry the man who has been her employer, when she finds out- at the alter- that he is already married.
He explains to Jane that in a cruel plot, when he was too young to see through the trick, he was duped into marrying a girl who quickly became insane. For years he provided basic care for this violent woman but explained that in reality he never had a wife. That he and Jane could still be man and wife (although Jane knows he really means that she would be his mistress). And he urges her to run away with him. No one would ever know. Really he is the victim. And he loves her. For once in her life someone loves her.
Jane's very reason begins to turn traitor against her. She desires to comply with the man she loves and a battle begins within her heart. Who else in the world cared for her? Who would ever be injured by her seeking to fulfill her own chance at happiness? And since no one would be hurt by their being together, would it really be wrong? What of this poor man she loves?
Finally, a glimmer of reason takes hold in the fog. And in one of my favorite portions of the book, Jane takes her stand within herself:
"I will keep the law of God... I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad as I am now.
Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against all rigour... If at my individual conscience I might break them, what would be their worth?"
"Preconceived opinions, foregone determinations are all I have at this hour to stand by: there I plant my foot."
Predetermined ideas helped Jane to make the right choice when reason was compromised.
At the end of the book, Charlotte Bronte demonstrates the way God used this singular moment to bless Jane and eventually makes a way in which she and her love can be married without breaking God's commands- only after a transformation in the man she loved. It is not a perfect tale. It was mature and complicated, but one I wanted to share with our older girls.
Critics of the effort said the slogan, "Just say no" was too simplistic to really help, but it did. As Mrs. Reagan took the message throughout the US and to other nations, totaling over 250,000 miles, drug use declined.
Could it be that if kids embraced what they wanted to do before temptation hit they would be prepared to make wise choices? It seemed that simple.
Sometimes parents doubt the effectiveness of parental influence. But Gary Chapman shares survey research in his book, "The Five Love Languages of Teenagers" that when teenagers were asked who had the greatest influence on their decisions- parents or friends? The influence was parents hands down in both their thoughts and behavior.
And these words which I command you today
shall be in your heart.
You shall teach them diligently to your children,
and shall talk of them when you sit in your house,
when you walk by the way, when you lie down,
and when you rise up.
Can just talking through potential difficulties ahead of time help children to know where to place their foot? I think it may be just that simple.
Blessings to you,
P.S. Have you met this sweet Christian book for young girls? Rosie is a homeschooled girl who loves God, horses and her family. I just finished reading it to our younger girls and we all loved it!