He was the one who cherished Anne like no other and, in his ornery yet tender sort of way, set the trajectory of countless young girls' hearts toward a height that only the most worthy men could hope to reach.
I wonder if Montgomery knew that the character she fashioned on paper would one day come to life in such a profound way, thanks to Crombie. I knew, after reading about Anne and Gil, that I wanted their story to be my story, that I wanted to find my very own Gilbert. I imagined he would be good in nature yet ornery, sensitive yet strong, funny, persistent, intelligent, and of course handsome.
Among the most attractive of Gilbert's charming qualities, for me, was the purity of his interest in Anne as a person.
In Gilbert's eyes, Anne was nothing but beautiful. Although she was not the portrait of beauty compared to the likes of her peers, Dianna and Josie, struggling madly to accept her skinny, freckled, red-haired self, daydreaming of puff sleeves and jet-black hair, it was those very unique physical attributes of Anne that drew Gil in. He could not help but to follow his heart by seeking hers.
So what was it, exactly, that enabled Gilbert to see and appreciate all of Anne?
The answer is simple: Mystery.
I've got six sons, whom I'm raising every day to be, in particular ways, just like Gilbert. Within their own distinct personalities and gifts, I hope they will embrace the value of being chivalrous, outgoing, determined, courageous, respectful, and always, always gentlemen.
I cannot help but want for them to find their own Anne, to be able to discover and know the one that God has created for them to love, if they are called to the sacrament of marriage.
But, I have to be honest. My heart struggles hard to find confidence in this hope, because there is that one BIG thing that seems to be missing in so many girls today. And that thing is....
There are three things about mystery that every girl should know.
1. It's a feminine gift that everyone girl is born with.
2. It's a very powerful gift.
3. The power in the mystery is modesty. Without modesty, there is no mystery.
Oh, and one more thing. Guys love mystery.
They may not think that they do, YOU may not think that they do, but trust me, they do.
How do I know this? Well, I've got one fine husband and six little men who remind me every day how true it is! Being the only female in the house, I can see in our boys' bright eyes, as they look at me, how different I am from them, and how those differences naturally cause them to approach to me with a sort of gentleness and tenderness that is proper to their dignity and mine.
I'll never forget when several years ago my husband thought it fascinating to explain to me all of the intricacies of the social happenings at the high school where he taught.
In one of his classes was a truly beautiful girl, inside and out. I knew her personally and her family as well. She was an absoulte gem. She was talented, smart, funny, pious, intelligent and modest. She may not have garnered all of that fun, flirtatious attention from the guys in her class, but what she did garner was respect, and there wasn't one male who didn't appreciate being recognized by her, even in the smallest way.
"It's all about the chase, honey. Put a challenge in front of a guy, in this case, capturing the heart of a beautiful woman who is shrouded in mystery, and he cannot help but want to know her." And, not just know her, but serve her, protect her, adore her, even love her!
What girl doesn't want that?
I know these are the ideals that lie deep in the hearts of young women, because I see and hear their cries over the absence of them via social media, television and even Pinterest, as they share their disappointments, heartaches and frustrations over the pain that comes when hopes and expectations are met with the emptiness of lust instead of real love.
Cry no longer, girls.
This is an easy fix, really. It's not complicated. If you want a guy to recognize and love you, all of you, especially who you are on the inside, you've got to show him the mystery.
As much as I love summer, it's quickly becoming my least favorite season. I feel like I cannot go anywhere with our sons without them encountering girls who forgot to get dressed for the day. Seriously, there's more fabric in my baby's bib than there are in some the "outfits" I see girls wear.
The most bothersome of these situations actually occurs at church (and some are worse than others). Sad, isn't it? I'd sort of like for my boys to keep their eyes on Jesus, but flesh is a mighty powerful distraction to say the least. And the parents, especially the dads, who sit beside their daughters, arms affectionately tucked around the shoulders of their girls, who's backsides are barely covered, looking proud as punch, are my distraction.
I CANNOT understand WHY they not only BUY such skimpy threads for their daughters, but also allow them let them wear them anywhere and everywhere, especially to church.
But, parents, I don't suppose you would dare play the authority card by mentioning something about modesty over dinner to your scantily clad daughter. I mean with the whole "war on women" campaign, one would hate to risk provoking any feelings of self-doubt or insecurity in the young ladies of this country, who may already be exhausted from pounding their fists on the backs of whomever is making life so desperately unfair for them.
Speaking of unfair, I think it's time for me to just come right out and say that the way you let your daughters dress is not only unfair to them, because you are not protecting their dignity, but it's also extremely unfair to my sons. But, I'm just going to go all in, push my chips to the center, and bet that you already know that. You know that boys struggle to look at your daughters in a healthy, pure way when they dress inappropriately, but care to do little about it.
Because it's the boys' fault, right? Like, get it under control, boys.
I'm asking for my sons to exercise custody of the eyes. What are YOU asking of your daughters?
Our culture is suffering from a horrible disconnect between choices and actions and the effects those actions have upon others. And, if you reject those effects, by pointing out the wrong in them, you are labeled judgmental, intolerant, or worse.
I've heard the rant so many times, But you don't know my daughter, so don't judge her by the way she dresses! She is sweet, kind, generous, and loving! Obviously you can't see that because you are so shallow. No, I'm sorry, I can't see that because her cheeks are hanging out of her shorts.
It's a simple fact: the interior qualities of others, no matter how beautiful they may be, become difficult to appreciate with six inches of cleavage popping out because Victoria isn't keeping anything a secret.
Immodest dress doesn't exactly scream, "I am a woman of high standards, who is talented, virtuous and worth your undying love, devotion and admiration." Really, it only says one word: easy.
And, truth be told, I don't want any relationship or anyone to be easy for my sons. I, along with a lot of other boy moms out there, are doing our very best to raise gentlemen. Men who place a high value upon the honor and respect that is due to a lady. Men who understand what it means to be providers and protectors, men who strive to not only embrace but also to attain the particular set of standards and virtues necessary to fulfill their role as strong, trustworthy men in society. These are the noble standards of sacrifice, chivalry, strength and loyalty.
There's just one hindrance to our sons' formation, and that is we cannot teach our boys to simply embrace these ideals as truth. That's not enough. At some point they have to put the principles into practice. Unfortunately, for most young men, it is difficult to exercise gentlemanly qualities when there are simply no ladies who might actually challenge them to practice what they preach.
I'm not making excuses for my sons - I'm making a CASE for them. Man, in his nature, is created to be visually attracted to women. That is a good thing. I repeat, that is a good thing. But, here's the real shocker: It's actually possible for that healthy attraction to happen if a girl is modestly dressed. Just ask Gil. Or your grandpa.
Do you think my grandfathers weren't attracted to my grandmothers? Hello?? Do you know what carefully curled hair and some red lipstick can do to a man? Mystery is charming, it's exciting, it's inviting, it says, "Hey you, if you want to get to know me, if you want to love me, if you want me to love you in return, then you're gonna to have to try really hard because I'm worth it."Maybe I'm a little off my rocker in assuming that you would like for your daughters to some day marry a gentleman. Someone who's strength of character, chivalrous attributes and unwavering devotion to your daughter are not only to be admired, but emulated. Someone who understands and values his duty as a man to provide for and protect all women, especially his bride.
Wouldn't you just love for the right man to come along and love and admire everything about your daughter - her talents, intelligence, sensitivity, joy, charm and beauty just the way you do, if not more?
How little credit young ladies give to the very persons they are hoping will love them. Girls, if you only understood that when you set the bar high, very high, the boys will rise up and strive to meet your hopes an expectations, (remember the power??) because, while they are wired to be physically attracted to you, they are also wired to - GET THIS - make you happy.
I'm not making this stuff up. They really do want to make you happy.
And, if they aren't willing to rise up, if they aren't seeking the mystery, if they don't indeed have the wisdom to show you the respect and consideration that you deserve, then all the better for you! Because, that guy is not the guy who is worthy of your time and attention. And, in the process of discovering that, you haven't lost a thing, not your pride, your dignity, nor your reputation.
See how that works?
Girl, I hear you. Attention can feel so good (temporarily), and for a while it might be enough to fill your aching heart. But, one day, you may discover that that kind of attention is empty. I hope that, if this is your story, that you will give your heart permission to long for something more.
With six sons, it's possible that all of them might one day be searching for their Anne. Maybe their Anne is you. I want them to find you, wherever you are. Trust me, you will want them to find you too, because they will be your Gil, and rule #7 is, never settle for anything less than a Gilbert.
Now, go and be modestly mysterious. I'll be waiting to meet you!