Archive for January, 2009

Looking for charm in all the wrong places

January 26, 2009
Vow of perpetual pleasing

Vow of perpetual pleasing

Lesson the next: Steadfast vows of charmed misdirection.

On page 7 of the Christian Charm Manual, the Charm Marm asks the sweet girlies for another commitment:  “I want to be attractive and charming, so that I will please others. I realize that this will not come about through wishful dreaming. I realize that I must work toward that goal diligently and steadfastly.” Later on the page, there’s a checkbox to make it official: “Therefore, I will practice the rules of health and beauty presented during this Charm Course, insofar as I am able to do so.”

Oh, check that!

A second commitment about spending time in God’s presence each day goes alongside that one, which is perfectly lovely, of course – I have no objection to communing with the divine. But the dastardly Charm Marm equates loving God with pleasing others in the most superficial way … as if Jesus wants nothing more from us than to please the pants off of everyone we encounter. (Not literally, sweet girlies – please!)

The Charm Marm doesn’t consider that perhaps we eager beavers in her charge are here on earth to fulfill our own missions, that we need to develop our own skills, and that we deserve a chance to shine in our own way instead of running around getting steadfast about becoming attractive to others.

Nor does the Charm Marm warn that sometimes “others” don’t want the right things, that they have their own problems to work out, that they might not have our best interests in mind, that they might not have pure intentions themselves, or that they might have absolutely no business expecting us to please them.

Every which way but pleased
What she does do is give us a fill-in-the-blanks list of things to improve so that we’ll appear more charming – an action plan for the charm-impaired. I do find my list amusing. I decided to improve “my face,” for one thing. I’m not sure what I planned to do about that, really, since I rarely suffered breakouts. Did I want to switch from a heart-shaped face to the more enviable oval shape? Perhaps that would stand out less or be a little closer to godly perfection. Perhaps I felt pointy chins were akin to the devil’s pitchfork.


Please unto others?

As for my “get organized” vow, maybe I was cheating. It just so happened that I was a whirlwind of tidiness as a wee lass. On more than one occasion, I asked my mother for permission to organize her kitchen cupboards. Even before my life became busy with kindergarten, I asked my big brother if didn’t he pretty please want to put me in charge of keeping his dresser drawers neat. (He politely declined.) I was already pretty steadfast about improving other peoples’ lives with the most demure attitude, you see.

Charm school was extreme submissiveness training. We sweet things were taught to be perpetually pleasing to others by having no boundaries or will of our own. Think of the energy we were instructed to apply simply to making ourselves mild, minor characters in other people’s stories.

Undo the Charm Marm: It’s time for submissiveness de-programming. Maybe it is time to get steadfast and diligent, but not about pleasing others … how about developing a backbone, discovering our talents, and expressing ourselves?

Someone should have taught us to speak up for ourselves, chickadees. Here’s a shocking revelation: expressing emotions and original thoughts isn’t being surly. So it’s time to make up for lost time. Assert your own will at will, if you will.

Let’s all just assume we’re on earth to do something that only we can do. There. Next step: Realize that you’re wasting time by wantonly pleasing every Tom, Dick, Harry, Matthew, Mark and Luke. Yes, of course, it’s good to help others; however, unconsciously filling other people’s needs while remaining unaware of your own is a cop-out. Flittering around from need to need means you’re frittering away your very particular energy. So here’s a new vow: Yes to fritters, no to frittering.