I adore How I Met Your Mother. I really do. But I was borderline livid during the finale last night. It’s not just that the Mother ‘got sick’ and left the door wide open for Ted (which was such a cop out in my opinion) to try with Robin for the umpteenth time. The whole ‘happily ever after’ moment after Ted shows up with the freaking blue French horn made me angry. We’ve seen the Ted and Robin show – it crashed and burned every. stinking. time. It didn’t work – because relationships take more than sex and a lot of feelings. They had fundamental differences – like children. What, because Ted already had two kids and they are mostly grown, all of a sudden it’ll work? Robin will magically become a good mother to two teenagers?
I will admit that I become way too emotionally involved with fictional characters. My deep frustration at this is more than my emotional investment in the show. I try so hard to encourage the middle school and undergraduate students I work with to make healthy and sometimes difficult choices in their relationships. I have seen too many of my students – and friends – stay in unhealthy relationships because since they loved each other, that was all that mattered and they put up with it. I have tried so hard to encourage people I know who have had the strength to walk away from relationships that weren’t bad, where they truly loved each other – it just simply wasn’t working. It takes incredible strength to risk being alone and not settling for things that only kind of work. My anger is directed toward a show that many people watch and that ultimately glorifies a happy ending that will be short lived at best. Relationships aren’t about happy endings.
I spent Confirmation class a few weeks ago trying to instill in the students that being created and loved by God and called to be a disciple affects how we live in relationship with others. I tried to insist to the girls that they deserve better than drinking on a Saturday night and making out in an alleyway. I fear so much for them that they hear more of HIMYM’s final message – that if someone merely says they love them or shows up with a blue French horn, it’s all worth it. They deserve so much more than French horns. They deserve respect, honesty, fidelity and much more. They deserve to be walked away from if it isn’t working and the courage to do the same on their own terms. They deserve someone who won’t pull a Barney and Robin and choose high powered careers over their wedding vows.
We all love quite imperfectly – there is no doubt about that. In regards to whomever we may love, Jesus showed us many times over the loving people takes real courage. Whatever kind of relationship we may be in, with friends, family or a significant other, real and true love demands that we call one another to be the very best that God has created us to be. It certainly requires courage and difficult choices. And there are absolutely times to revel in all the squishy feelings that do come with loving others. I really enjoyed HIMYM over the seasons. But that’s not the kind of love I want to show.