Accidental Marriage Book Club: Chapter 19

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Welcome to the Accidental Marriage Book Club! We’re reading The Accidental Marriage, by Roger Thomas.

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Scott and Megan have been on quite a journey! Near the end of The Accidental Marriage, they do some soul searching toward understanding life, love and themselves more deeply. As we reach this final chapter, it is time for them to share their newfound insights with one another. While neither character admits to reaching any sort of final destination, each senses that they are on the right path, and they are on that path together.

Scott and Megan learn a valuable lesson in authentic love by coming to understand the distinction between giving generously without expecting anything in return versus using someone for personal gain and satisfaction. Both thought they had experienced love with certain people, but they realize that what they thought was love was not love at all. Likewise, they discover that the genuine love they have experienced occurred in the most unlikely of places: in their unique friendship and in their daughter Grace.

Why does the friendship between Scott and Megan flourish, while the romantic relationships that they had with others disintegrate?

Scott loves Megan for who she is, not for what she gives him. In fact, most of what she gives him involves a series of unexpected twists and turns that cause hardship and sacrifice. Yet, he generously helps her, appreciates her and accepts all of her without wanting anything in return.

Likewise, Megan loves Scott for who he is. She is grateful to him for helping her so generously, but she never expects or demands his help. And when Scott breaks down, she does not abandon him. Rather, she sees beyond the darkness to the light that is on the horizon.

This is why their relationship works! This is why any relationship works! When we love for the sake of the other, when we give rather than take, when we think of the other before ourselves, love flourishes.

This is not a gay verses straight issue. As Megan points out, straight people can use one another just as much as gay people can. Rather, it is an issue of how we love. Do we love as Christ loves us? Or do we “love” to gain something for ourselves?

“… There has to be more to life than that. There has to be more to love than that. What if it’s more about caring for others, taking care of them when they need it?” (214) As St. Francis of Assisi so eloquently expressed, “for it is in giving that we receive.”

Of course, Scott and Megan are not in this alone. Their journey brings them into friendship with others who exemplify authentic love to them. Namely, Helge Sykes and Francis, but there are others, too. They befriend Scott and Megan in their darkest hours: right after the car accident and right after the scary incident on the bridge. If those terrible moments had not happened, these two beacons of light may never have entered Scott and Megan’s lives. Helge and Francis truly give of themselves to mentoring Scott and Megan, by listening as well as offering insights and words of wisdom. They provide Scott and Megan with additional examples of loving friendship in the purest sense.

As a reader who believes in God, I cannot help but see God’s handiwork throughout this novel. Scott and Megan may not realize it, yet, but His grace is sprinkled throughout their story: in their openness to life, in the very name they give their daughter, in the people they meet, and most profoundly in the voice Megan hears on the bridge. God is with them, acting ever so gently in their lives. He is acting in and through all of us. We just have to be open to His grace—to those unexpected and accidental occurrences that end up being the best things that have ever happened to us.

To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:

  1. Who has shown you authentic love without expecting anything in return? How have you been able to give this type of genuine love to someone else?
  2. Has someone come into your life at just the right moment to help you on your journey? Who has been a Helge Sykes or Francis to you?
  3. On the bridge, Megan hears a voice that instructs her to help Joseph. Why do you think the voice called Scott by his given name instead of the one he chooses to use?
  4. Fast-forward five years: what does life look like for Scott, Megan and their children?

Feel free to comment on your own thoughts from this week’s reading, your impressions and reflections, and/or your answers to these questions.

This is the final week for this book club. Thanks so much for participating! If you want more information about the book or the book club, be sure to visit the Accidental Marriage Book Club page.

Copyright 2015 Sarah Damm

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About Author

Sarah Damm is a Catholic wife and mother of six children, living in Minnesota. She spends her days running errands, cooking meals and helping with homework. She and her husband Greg strive to weave the Catholic faith into their daily lives as well as into their family celebrations. Sarah blogs at sarahdamm.com. In addition to CatholicMom.com, she also is a contributor for WINE: Women in the New Evangelization.

7 Comments

  1. You hit the nail on the head when you said, “Scott loves Megan for who she is, not what she gives him.” Both of them have revelations about what it means to be in relationship with people who are not using them–and not to be users themselves in relationships.

  2. Your last paragraph is an excellent summary. Well stated!

    A few weeks ago, Pope Francis tweeted: “Lord, help us to live the virtue of generosity, to love without limits.” It was timely because I was preparing a talk on how the virtues of authenticity, purity, generosity, and grace have played a role in my life. I was struggling with what to write/speak about on generosity, so the Pope’s tweet pretty much saved me and that particular talk! 🙂 But to couch generosity in terms like “loving without limits” – wow, that’s a high standard and something to strive toward, huh? Marriage and motherhood have given me plenty of opportunities to *practice.* And I’ll continue practicing, practicing, practicing … 🙂

  3. I’ve had several Helges and Francises in my life. Most of them arrive seemingly out of nowhere and stay for a time as an unintended mentor. I’ve become the person I am today because of the incredible love from the Catholic Mom family and the amazing women bloggers I’ve met here!

    • How blessed you are to have your own Helges and Francises in your life! And how beautiful to recognize the women here at CM and in the Catholic blogging world … It’s one of the fruits of technology—that we have been brought together to share faith and encourage one another, even though we might be thousands of miles apart! Praise God!

  4. Now that the Book Club is wrapping up, I hope I don’t let any cats out of any bags by revealing that the key to the whole story (at least for me) lies in Chapter 19. It’s in a quiet comment, almost an offhand statement by Scott, when he reveals something that has come up in his conversations with Francis. Here is is:

    “[Francis] says it sounds like we have an exemplary marriage”

    Megan is amazed at this, responding, “…he does know that our marriage is a formality…that we’re not in love?”

    But Francis had explained his opinion, which Scott relays: “…we support and help each other, and we provide Grace a good home.”

    This is how Scott and Megan “backed into” the true meaning of marriage. Following the cultural currents, they’d sought meaning and direction to their lives through romantic fulfillment – even, in the maelstrom of modern confusion, through same-sex relationships. After all, wasn’t romance what it was all about?

    Not according to Jesus. When asked about marriage (Matthew 19, Mark 10), Jesus returns “to the beginning”. And what do we find in that Beginning? “It is not good for the man to be alone. Let us make a helper for him similar to himself.” (Gen 2:18) The /telos/ of marriage is husband and wife helping each other.

    Because romance in the modern sense was out of the question for self-defined gays Scott and Megan, they were thrown on simply helping. This is the path by which they discover the deep heart, the true meaning, of marriage. Sure they get other benefits along the way, but because they’ve turned their lives toward each other, choosing to help even at high cost, they tap the deep heart of marriage. For them, this is an “accidental” discovery, because they find meaning where they least expected to, but it is the heart of the story.

    This is the deepest sense in which the story is radically counter-cultural. Reading it carefully, the “gay” theme is a minor and superficial matter. Far more deeply it assaults one of the most unquestioned idols of our day, the Romantic Illusion, what I call the Myth of the Everything Relationship. It’s the idea that there is one Special Person out there who will meet your every need, fulfill your life, and bring you meaning and purpose. It’s part of our cultural environment, and a surprising number even among Christians buy into it, even if they’re unaware. It’s also why so many marriages are on shaky foundations: when the reality of married life sets in, and some days aren’t fulfilling. For those who marry to have their needs met and their lives fulfilled, this provokes an existential crisis for their marriage. But for those who understand that life is difficult for us all, and that married couples are there to help each other through it, the trauma is much less. They seek their meaning in God alone, and understand that marriage is a help along the way but not the be-all and end-all of existence. This is a much more solid foundation – and one that Scott and Megan are on the path to discovering.

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