When it comes to the holidays, there’s only one topic more divisive than when to put up the decorations (okay, and maybe the whole real tree vs. fake tree debacle), and that is whether Hallmark Christmas movies are enjoyable. Want someone to open up to you fairly quickly? Ask them if they love a good Hallmark Christmas movie. Most likely, they will have very strong feelings one way or the other.
The truth is, I think there is one thing we can all agree on – the plots are a bit predictable. My saying has always been, “There’s comfort in predictability!” For those who do enjoy them, isn’t that why? Because in the end, we know that no matter what happens throughout the movie, everything is going to end up exactly how we want it to in the end.
Unfortunately, it just simply isn’t this way in real life. We know that ultimately, in the end, we always win because of Jesus. However, that doesn’t mean that we won’t have to go through hard things, heartbreak, and disappointment in this life. Things won’t always pan out the way we hope, dream, believe, and pray they will. If we’re not careful, consuming this narrative can disillusion us. Especially when it comes to being single and dreaming of having a “Hallmark moment” where we happen to bump into our perfect-for-us guy at the coffee shop, accidently spill coffee all over him, and profusely apologize while the weight of the world rests on our shoulder over the problem he will inevitably solve for us.
So, how can we use this as a teaching opportunity for the middle and high school girls in our life who may be desiring to live out these storylines in their own life?
- You’ll never find “the one”. There’s no such thing as “the one”. This reality is actually very freeing! If there was only one person for everyone, if one person married the wrong person, it would throw everyone else off! Think about how stressful it is trying to determine if someone is “the one”. That is way too much pressure to put on a fallible human! Instead, focus on traits you would expect a godly husband to have one day and cultivating godly character traits in your own self. It’s not about becoming a godly wife or godly husband – if we become godly people, we will become a godly spouse (if that is what the Lord has for us one day). You will never marry a perfect person because perfect people don’t exist.
- Be honest. If we create unrealistic expectations (this is different than healthy expectations) instead of learning to love people where they are, we will always be miserable in every relationship. No relationship is perfect, and when all we see is a glamourized, perfected version of relationships where the man is constantly swooning over the woman, we will place unfair expectations on the person God may have for us.
- Make sure they know to never follow their heart. This may actually be the worst advice ever given, and I have heard it over and over again in Hallmark movies! The Bible warns us that the heart is deceitful above all else (Jer. 17:9). We should seek the wisdom and plan of God, not indulge in our own desires (Isa. 55:8-9)! The enemy is sneaky and often uses things that aren’t necessarily “bad” to derail us. We are created to love and be loved, but when this happens outside of its appropriate context or time, it actually causes a lot of pain, regret, heartbreak, and destruction. When we try and force something to happen because we desire it more than we are desiring God’s will and plan for our life, it never ends well. This is why community and mentorship are so important when it comes to navigating romantic relationships – we are often unable to see red flags or danger zones on our own, and we need others who love us enough to help protect us and keep us focused on the Lord and what matters most.
- Marriage isn’t the highest calling. Sadly, historically speaking, the church has almost placed marriage on a higher pedestal than the world. Our lives do not begin the moment we walk down the aisle. Regardless of any season of life, anything we accomplish, any person we befriend – the highest calling is following Jesus. When we begin to celebrate all steps of radical obedience the way we embrace marriage, we will see a generation of girls much more fulfilled in who they are in Christ instead of seeking fulfillment in all the wrong places. Ultimately, this will also lead to more fulfilling, Christ-centered, gospel-driven marriages. When girls pursue marriage for the sake of the gospel because they have been led to pursue everything in life in light of the gospel, we will see ripple effects for generations to come.
- Control is an illusion. How often do we as females replay conversations in our mind wondering what we could’ve said, should’ve said, to make things play out differently? The temptation for middle and high school girls to manipulate circumstances or place themselves in situations where they are crossing paths with a boy they have a crush on – these are things we see as regular occurrences in most of their lives. They live for the message notification that may or may not come. They create a narrative in their mind based on a 30-second conversation and side hug goodbye. As mentioned in the beginning, the comfort of a Hallmark movie is the control we feel over knowing exactly what will happen in the end. In reality, no matter how much control we feel we have, we really have none. God is the supreme ruler, King of the Universe, seated high on His throne. When we learn to give in to this reality and embrace having no control instead of fighting for it, we will be able to embrace the moment God is calling us to instead of clinging tightly to what might or might not happen. The freedom we find in Christ comes from embracing His authority in our lives instead of our own (Gal. 5:1).
Lexi Shipp is a passionate writer, speaker, and Bible teacher. With a Bachelors in Religion and Masters in Human Services Counseling, both specified in Christian Ministry, Lexi is currently serving alongside her husband as Girls Student Ministry Director at London Bridge Baptist Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Working with middle and high school girls for years, she has a heart for connecting all generations of women and championing the next generation for the cause of Christ – starting within her own home as a mom. Lexi serves as a regular LifeWay Girls blogger, the Blog Team Lead for the SBC of Virginia’s Women’s Ministry Blog, and as a part of the SBCV Ministry Wives and Women’s Ministry Strategy teams. To read more of Lexi’s writings or to book her as a speaker, connect with her on Instagram @alexisleeshipp