The blurry line between fiction and reality

A recent article reminded me of a piece of fiction I wrote for a writing course as I tried to visualize the growing problem of bride stealing in China.

rejection

Not ‘Leftover Women’ but ‘Leftover Men’ Are China’s Real Problem said,

Leftover women are no cause for concern – it is the ‘leftover men’ that are China’s real crisis”,   Xinhua News and Beijing News write earlier this week. “Marriage as a traditional institute is of great significance and value, but it should not be the way to measure a women’s worth in today’s era,” the article states. Although it has been the unmarried young women, often called ‘leftover women’ (shèngnǚ, 剩女), who have been singled out by Chinese media, the article says that it really is the single men, referred to as ‘leftover men‘ (shèngnán, 剩男) that are at the center of China’s “marriage crisis”.

“Statistics point out that for China’s post 1980s generation, there are tens of millions more men than women of marriageable age. At the peak of the disparity in girls and boys births in 2004, 121.2 boys were born for every 100 girls. Nevertheless, the ‘leftover men’ problem has not been covered as much by Chinese media, while ‘leftover women’ have been the targeted by media for years.”

Here is the only fiction I’ve ever written; it’s an attempt to move from statistics to people.

 *****

Trapped

This was not how he’d pictured his wedding day.

All the stories he’d heard growing up. All the dreams about when it would be his turn with his friends to go and “kidnap” his bride in the early hours of the morning. His parents waiting nearby to host the wedding banquet; their turn having finally come to brag to their village through food about how well their family was doing.

Now that the actual day was here, the thought of kidnapping made his stomach lurch.

Why fate has seen fit to have him born into the shit hole of a dying village, he’d never know. He wished he was more like his parents who rolled with the punches that fate dealt.

He was the one who sobbed as an eight year old boy when he dad broke his leg so badly it required the boy to drop out of school. They stoically told him that education wasn’t needed for farming. He was the one who suggested going to work in a factory near Hong Kong, they were the ones to tell him not to aim too high. He was the one who wanted to try to growing sweet potatoes and they were the ones who said, “we’re not that kind of people.”

He was the one with the modern idea on love. But now at the old age of 24 he had to put that foolishness behind him. As the only son it was his duty to provide a grandchild. As a man it was not his duty to find love. When his father had come to him with the plan everything in him recoiled.

But here he was in the early hours of morning, getting dressed for his wedding. He wondered how much his father had to pay for his bride? He wondered how scared she’d been when she was kidnapped. He heard they drugged the girls so that they were easier to sneak across the border. Would she still be drugged? What language did she speak? Did she know he was not a monster?

Too soon it was time to go.

Love is more than grand gestures (and that’s good news!)

Grand gestures are great when it comes to love. But grand gestures are not the neighborhood love lives in. Grand gestures are the vacations spots of love. Wonderful to visit. Necessary in life. Fun to remember and dream of.

Love lives in the ordinary. Love lives in the day-to-day. Love lives in the little. I bring you three exhibits from last week.

Love woven in

Exhibit A:

I was having lunch with a friend and said that my mom’s love language is time.

Tracking with me, he nodded and said, “Oh, quality time.”

“No, being on time.”

We laughed, but it was one of those rare moments a truth pops out and you wonder where it came from. It’s true, to communicate love to my mom, be on time. Or, better yet, have her to her destination on time. In the grand world of “love” it doesn’t look sexy or draw much attention to itself, does it? It’s almost so darn dull, I want to move on to something else.

But the Holy Spirit has been saying all week, “Park here. Do not miss this.”

Exhibit B:

A friend who serves on the field emailed she had said she’d recently written something raw, but it was true. I wrote back saying what she’d written was beautiful.

But.

And.

I wanted to help. How could I pray for her? In her response she shared how, right now, she’s hating the land that’s she’s been called to love. Hating the toll it’s taking on her. Hating that it is so much harder than she dreamed it could be. Jealous of others. Feeling selfish for needing a break. Would I pray that supporters would understand the need for a break this fall instead of waiting for next summer.

And I teared up reading this.

But not for the reason you might think.

I wrote back my tears were because I was honored she’d tell me the truth. That in cutting through all of the holy-spiritual-smoke-and-mirror crap and naming what was really going on, I felt very loved by her. I was moved because of love.

I also confessed my prayers might not be heard because my tears weren’t for her plight, but the gesture towards me.

(You know I’m kidding about not being heard, right?! Right?)

(I have prayed and will pray and know the prayers are heard. How they will be answered, that I don’t know :))

Love comes, not only in the perfect cleaned up times of romantic dinners, nice clothes, and batting eyes at each other. Love comes when we make gestures towards each other in the less than perfect moments and say, “This is the hot mess I find myself in. If nothing else, will you stand here and watch me. You don’t have to solve it, but can you at least bear witness to this?! Please?”

Exhibit C:

You know the role the Broncos have played in our family story. I’ve said before, the Broncos are the container, the holder of story that’s bigger than any one of us, but it’s not about sports. You also know that since Dad died and the baton has been passed to Del (my brother-in-law) and me, we are using pre-season to invite his daughters into the story one-by-one.

Saturday it was Emily’s turn. I love that girl for many, many reasons. Here in this space, I love her because she does not care a wit about football, but she cares about me. She cares about her grandpa. She cares about seeing where we sit and what a game is like. She went with me to, what may be, her only NFL game because of love.

Emily LOVE

Love looks like wearing the right colors, asking about the rules, and humoring your aunt who is yelling how rare it is to see a safety! When, in all fairness she could have yelled back, “Do you have any idea how rare it will be for me to see any scoring?” Instead she clapped when I clapped, she listened to me explain the game (just basics! Didn’t want to overwhelm), and she smiled at me when I cheered loudly (hey, we all have boundaries). She loved me.

*****

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 1 John 4:7-9

Love lives in the ordinary. Love lives in the day-to-day. Love lives in the little.

Amen and amen.

*****

Where have you loved or been loved in the ordinary, day-t0-day of your life? What’s your twist on a love language?

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