Our Inner Yearning

I have a confession to make — I have always liked older women more than younger ones.

This began at a young age when Christy first premiered on CBS. Of course, I liked Christy Huddleston… and I always rather fancied her with David (yes, I know, heresy … but as a sensible child, I did not like Neil’s rudeness nor his atheism) … to be honest, my favorite character was Miss Alice and I lit up like a firefly whenever an episode featured much of her or even revolved around her. Not much has changed, since I universally seem drawn to older females on screen… it was never Ashley or even Kate that I adored on Sanctuary, it was always Helen Magnus — at 157 years old! And although I like both versions of Olivia on Fringe, there are some weeks I sit around wondering, “When is Nina Sharp coming back?” Starbuck annoyed the living daylights out of me on Battlestar Galactica — I was a President Laura Roslin girl all the way. Even on Downton Abbey, I am rather more fond of Mrs. Hughes than anyone else… the practical, strong and formidable housekeeper to whom Ethel in season two turns to help after she is saddled with a “predicament.”

One could dismiss this trend in my behavior as simply being a result of my personality type, one that tends to gravitate more toward sensible people — because all of these women are more sensible, restrained, and wise than their younger female counterparts. But I think it runs deeper than that… I think it says something about human nature and the nature of women in particular — an aspect of our genetics that has either been denied or misconstrued in modern society, the fact that it is in our nature to seek out mentors. Humans naturally crave meaningful relationships and from childhood, we select idols that represent who we want to become. As little girls, we looked up to the big girls … in our eyes, they were something magnificent because they were older. It had nothing to do with their intelligence or wisdom level, merely that they were the “Big Girls.” I have to remember that now when I see younger girls shifting toward me, looking at me with that same awe and wonder that at their age I leveled at girls who were older than me.

God put this instinct in us for a reason, so that we might learn from one another and mentor each other through the difficult trials of life. This is one reason often we do ourselves a disservice by only becoming acquainted with people our own age — a problem that a lot of young adults have, because our society is so intent on segregating us into groups. Having connections to other young people through a young adult group is an awesome thing, because it can cement us together in your mutual awareness of the culture, but we also need older friends, wiser friends, friends who have been knocked about a few times and come out knowing what lies on the other end. We need mentors in many places in our lives, people to encourage and inspire us to be our best… spiritual mentors, mentors who are wives and mothers, or still single but content in being older and alone, women who are strong in their faith and convictions. And if we cannot find them in real life, it begins to manifest in a fictional world, where your soul cries out for inspiration and finds it in the most unlikely of places, through a person that represents something you admire and most desire to become.

I feel an immense amount of compassion for the men in our society, because society is somewhat accepting of women without becoming too suspicious, but men have a harder time with mentorship because of how the world views intense same-sex friendships. It’s natural to see little girls hugging one another or sleeping next to each other, innocently caught up in each other’s arms, but for boys there is a different kind of bond, one that makes many of them uncomfortable. We live in a world that pursues pleasures at the cost of true happiness and the destruction of mentors and friendships. We live in a world in which even the friendship of David and Jonathon in scripture is called into speculation, because it included the word “love.” We live in a world in which implications are made about Ruth and Naomi, that Ruth went with her not because of a mother-and-daughter-in-law bond but because there was something else going on. We have permitted the world to influence us, to cause us to shy away from feelings that are completely natural — from allowing us to experience the friendships and mentorships that God intended for us.

Not all forms of love are sexual, and not all kinds of attraction are the same. In the world’s eyes, the two are confused and therefore if you “like” older women, you must be in love with older women. There is sexual desire and there is admiration, and the two are very different. One is a physical response (at times, yes, driven by our emotional interest in someone or something) and the other is a spiritual yearning. We are drawn most to what we most want to be… even at times, as an indication of our life’s purpose. I am drawn to strong, independent, and capable women who tackle the world with a fearlessness that makes them formidable… because that is what I most want to be. I would love to have the wisdom and spiritual depth of Miss Alice, the strength and control of Helen Magnus, the intelligence of the enigmatic Nina Sharp, the courage and resourcefulness of Laura Roslin, and the poise and discernment of Mrs. Hughes.

Lately, God has been expanding my circle of acquaintances, both of peers and older individuals, and I am discovering that the older women of my church have much to teach me, friendship to offer me… and possibly that I in turn have something to offer them: youth and exuberance and, yes, a touch of sarcasm when the situation calls for it. We all need someone we can trust and look up to, who will smack us into line if we need it and permit us to cry on her shoulder in our darker hours… and we all need to remember that mentors are not limited to others… for a younger girl, that mentor just might be… us.

7 Replies to “Our Inner Yearning”

  1. i am a die-hard/long-time neil macneil fan; but that is largely due to my having read the book thousands of times (hyperbole) before viewing the rather stripped- bare-family-friendly-retelling of the series. his atheism in the novel just goes to make his eventual change even greater. moreover, he acts as a catalyst-type voice for marshall who, in him, gets to ask narrator christy (and, of course, us …as the “Everypeople” she writes for) some of the tough Christian questions. indeed, christy tends to ask all of the questions i have and seek and at times when i just can’t put my finger on it, i am glad that catherine marshall exists and writes…..

    this is a very ‘christy’ centric response to your post; but i was glad to hear that you were an alice henderson advocate. again, her character in the novel is so well fleshed out.

    i HATE david on-screen because he’s so useless in wanting to make love to christy (in the old-fashioned terminology) rather than appreciating her –as he does in the book. i rather like that neil, in the series, challenges christy— that is what brings out her most fiery and potent moments! 🙂 maybe it is just because i remember him in so much disdain from the book.

    1. I like Neil in the book, but not in the series, because they are not the same. Had they written Neil in the series like in the book, I would have liked him better (and it would have helped if they had not cast such an ugly actor! I admit it, I’m shallow). I don’t agree with you about David in the series, either — I think they much improved on him, and made him more of a three-dimensional character than he was in the book…

  2. Lizzy: I think “enchanted with her” is a very good way of putting it, actually — that is very much how I feel about certain women in my life. It's attraction, but not of a worldly variety.

    Rissi: You don't want to know what kind of stuff is out there — usually the Ruth/Naomi or David/Jonathan statements are an attempt to legitimize “Bible-condoned homosexuality.” Uh… no.

    On Christy in General: In the series, David is the far better choice for Christy. In the book, it's Neil. You have to separate the two and not confuse the book characters with their on-screen counterparts. I can't warm up to Neil on screen just because I love him in the book; I have to judge him by his own merit. The same goes with David, and in that regard, on screen — he's wonderful.

  3. LOL! Thanks, Lizzy… I think. =D

    No, I'm just kidding. In all seriousness, I would probably have a different view of David AND Neil if I read the novel (perhaps someday I will). My opinion is based solely on the actor who plays David and his interpretation. Most fans do prefer Neil… but in the show… he’s just… well, unsuitable for Christy. My biggest issue lies with CBS for cancelling it – at least they FINALLY released the DVD set, and that is something. =)

  4. Ah, Rissi I feel for you x]

    Have you read the book? You'll see that David really is not…all that great. For instance, he tells Christy that he does not believe Jesus really raised Lazarus from the dead. Seriously? You're a pastor and you don't believe Jesus was capable of that? I don't know, but when you read the book and you get to know them all so well…you see that David is not as good. But to each her own ;]

  5. How terrible that some people conclude that about Ruth and Naomi; theirs was nothing BUT a familial bond. Cultures views on friendship today is sadly skewed and I wish it'd change.

    Miss Alice was a wonderful character. She was always so wise. (And, although I've said this before, David was SO much better than Neil – seriously how could the show have ended as it did!?)

  6. I completely see what you are saying. One of my mentors is Patti LuPone, a Broadway actress who is older but I think she's beautiful and sings amazingly. Sometimes I'm just enchanted with her. And also today on my college campus I stopped by the office of my former singing teacher who I hadn't seen in two years. She was still beautiful and graceful just like I remembered. Everyone needs a few older people of their same sex to look up to and even be in awe of. I think it's healthy- those two ladies inspire me ~

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