I love this song!
I remember the first time I heard it was in February at a Goodwill store while I had a precious few minutes to myself. Its power knocked my spirit flat. It said exactly what I feel when I so often remember God’s love for me and then wish I could offer those same feelings to everyone else who feels lost or forgotten.
Next I wondered when Adele had released a new song that sounded so…churchy? Then, because I didn’t hear the word “God” slipped in there later on, I thought, “Oh no! She’s making another person the source of her worth and identity. Noooo!!! That’s all we need is more women staking their value on what her audience thinks of her.” But I thought I would just go ahead and imagine this mainstream musician (I’m too out of touch to have heard of Lauren Daigle) singing a song that spoke to my soul about God’s love for me, even if it was just another song about a woman worshiping her man.
Eventually I learned her name when the song came on my car radio (I’m that old) and my twenty-something sister-in-law who was with me cleared up the Adele confusion. So I finally looked up the official video, and I just was not feeling it. Like the profound feelings I had experienced didn’t match the picture-perfect world I saw portrayed. So I skipped to the next video (this one), and I felt even more disappointed. I thought, as did another commenter, that if this doll maker was supposed to be a representation of God, then all of the beauty and power of this song had been completely lost on the artist.
So here is where I either totally lose Muse of Music and her followers, or maybe get a thoughtful response.
I tried to make sense of the doll maker. Why had he made a woman to be mechanical and perfect, to respond simply to his desires, to have no identity of her own?! And why was there this woman breaking out of a chrysalis within the mind–it appears–of this inanimate doll?
My answer begins with some context. I am a Christian woman (I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and it is not uncommon for Christian cultures (regardless of theology) to teach that the sexuality of a good Christian woman exists primarily to serve her husband and have babies. That it isn’t a legitimate part of her until her husband awakens it. Like I said, probably going to lose some people here, but hang tight. For more on this topic, look into the work of Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife, a sex therapist who is also a member of the Church.
Sexuality is an integral part of a beloved child of God. It isn’t a dirty part of them that is only good if it forges a pathway to making babies. It is there for immeasurable good in the construction of the most exquisite of human relationships, the joining of two very different people in a lasting marriage. It is a God-given way to experience joy.
So when I watch this video, I see a woman who has abdicated the development of her sexuality to a man. This man, in turn, has fooled himself into believing that he can craft the relationship he wants by projecting his desires onto an empty shell. She is reduced to the components, though beautifully formed, that awaken his feelings. She is his crowning achievement, and yet he leaves feeling as empty as she is.
Do you see the disappointment in his eyes when he realizes that he cannot create reciprocal feelings in another person? (And it is so important that a woman be willing to allow this disappointment to happen.) The reason she does not respond to him is simple. Feelings come from thoughts. Thoughts require a mind, a space that is one’s own, a birthplace (I am loving Jody Moore’s podcasts on this). This doll cannot experience emotional feelings because she has no self. But the most sexually decisive organ in a woman is her brain, so without space for her own thoughts, her sexuality is smothered.
The woman who breaks out of the chrysalis is sensual. Some may even say provocative. But why do we assume that she is trying to cause feelings in others? What if one of the divinely intended ways for a woman to enjoy the life coursing through her is to dance in a sensual way? She may be looking at the camera, but suppose she is simply looking in a mirror? Admiring the way she can move and feel and sense and take in her environment? A woman can be in awe of her body with or without the approval of a man.
And a man who believes a woman is there for him to shape into a sexual being would do well to give up this vain pursuit, put away the tools of manipulation, and give the woman space to come into her own. That is where the kind of passion God intended in marriage becomes a possibility.
A man who welcomes this development in his wife never need fear that his sexual desires will be shoved to the margins of their marriage. True intimacy begins with vulnerability, not a predictable sequence of give-and-take to get a recurring need met. Fear is left far behind when we embrace our entire selves and allow others to do the same.
We cannot give what we do not have. Though the doll maker sees only his precious doll suddenly falling in a heap to the floor, we have witnessed the transition, albeit a bumpy one, of a woman emerging from her self-imposed prison. So many women give and give and believe that in giving, they become more. The resulting emptiness says otherwise. Awakening to a sense of her power by being a whole, integrated being lets a woman truly give herself to another. “I am yours,” she can say, “because I know I am mine to give.”