We didn't have HBO growing up, but when by the time I started attending Christian university, Sex and the City reruns were playing on basic cable, albeit heavily edited. My roommates and I would occasionally gather to watch it, me with a certain feeling of nervousness. While our Evangelical culture told us "modest is hottest" and "true love waits" and that even the most innocuous things (hammocks, slow dancing, pajama pants) could lead to impurity and ruination, Sex and the City was shocking. These four women seemed to be happy, although I secretly suspected they were wrong. Surely happiness came from being a wife, mother, and good Christian?
Most of them seemed redeemable (particularly Charlotte) but Samantha was beyond help. She was brazen in her desires, slept around without shame. In one iconic episode, she breaks up with a guy by telling him: "I love you. But I love me more."
And that is what was so transgressive and fascinating about Samantha. She was the antidote to the image of the martyred wife/mother that seemed to be held up as the Evangelical ideal. She loved herself the most. Samantha never had children, but if she did, I imagine her being the type of mom who wouldn't feel guilty about parking her kids with the ipad so she could work out. She wouldn't feel compelled to sacrifice her identity in order to be a mom.
Last week I had my tarot cards read for an upcoming Fundamentally Free post. The tarot card reader talked a lot to me about boundaries (something I'm also working on in my support group). She said to me, "Relationships require compromise, but not sacrifice. Do you know the difference?" I nodded, but she kept pressing me, "Do you? Do you?" While I don't believe in the magic of tarot (spoiler alert) I do think it's something worth considering. How we draw these boundaries matters. After all, Jesus commanded us to "love our neighbors as ourselves" not more than, not less than, but equally.
That is a surprisingly difficult line to walk. But maybe I need a little less Mother Theresa and a little more Samantha.