(30 Days of Truth – Day 16 – A book you’ve read that changed your views on something)
In September, 2005, I fell in love in a way that I never imagined possible. I met Gil that year but this wasn’t the love of which I’m speaking. However, Gil and our then broken relationship are the very things that led to this discovery of a Sacred Romance. We had ended our relationship and I was completely and utterly distraught. I was in one of the darkest place I had ever been. I was angry and sad and sure that I was going to die from a broken heart. I was struggling to get through a Monday morning when I opened my email to find my Daily Inspirational email with a story entitled “Romanced by God”. In that email I read that “Life isn’t a series of random events or a litany of facts; life is a story. It is a great story full of comedy, drama, tragedy, horror. There is a God who is the author of the story with invitations to a journey that is sometimes beautiful, sometimes painful, often bewildering, but ultimately hopeful.” I felt outright compelled to run right out and buy the book that inspired this daily devotional, The Sacred Romance by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge.
I started reading it that day and devoured every single word. It really was as if God sat down next to me. I could feel His presence and it inspired me with such a sense of understanding and soothing comfort that I cannot begin to explain it. Not comfort from what I felt for Gil and our breakup…..but for myself. I have always been a firm believer that no matter how small or insignificant something seems, things happen for a reason. Coincidences do not exist; it is all part of a much larger and majestic plan that we may never understand. I truly believe this book was a gift from God to me. In this book I found holes in ideals I had been taught my entire life, and I also found the words I needed to patch those holes. Within the pages of this book, I found the ability to forgive and let go of any and all negative emotions I was feeling at the time. After reading this book, I was so overcome with feelings that I had to release them. The only way I knew to do that was to just start writing down everything I was feeling. What came of that was an 8 page letter to Gil. I’m going to use my words from that letter to describe how this book changed my view on my entire belief structure. Below are some excerpts from the book, a follow up booklet by John Eldredge, as well as my letter to Gil.
“The southern culture she grew up in demanded that she literally divide her soul in two to be acceptable: a helpless Southern belle who was non-threatening to men and Southern society, and a competent, independent career woman who could make up any family deficiency.”
No truer words were ever spoken to describe me. This is exactly how my father raised me, almost as if he came back from the grave to remind me. Except, he forgot to tell me about the helpless part or maybe somewhere along the way I just forgot the helpless part and it became more of a reflection of weakness, rather than the need for rescue. I forgot to remember the fairy tales that we loved to hear as children, both as boys, the heroes, and girls, the beauties. As strong as I want to be, and as independent as I need to be, I have to finally admit that I want what all little girls want. I want to be fought over and cherished and rescued. The book reminded me of that. I have just been looking for the wrong rescuer and expecting each one of them to fail.
During my week-long self-reflection I have tried to figure out what went wrong with my thought processes. This is not to say that anything ‘went wrong’ but it certainly gives me a clue as to why I think the things I do and feel the way I feel. I can only imagine how my life would be different if my father had read this little 52-page booklet, You Have What It Takes. I don’t remember my father ever telling me “You’re lovely”. I do remember being told over and over again how smart I was. Sometime during my childhood I remember the comparison made between my sister and me…Lee’s the smart one and Tammy is the pretty one. I can’t remember who said this and thinking back, it may have even been me, as a result of how I felt, that smart was more meaningful than pretty. How would my life be different if my father had stopped every now and then to tell me I was beautiful, or pretty, or worth fighting for? If he did say those things, I have absolutely no memory of it.
I remember the lessons of my father very clearly. Do not be like your mother. Get an education and become a strong independent woman who does not need or require a man to support you or take care of you. I know that his goals were absolutely earnest and well-intended. He was trying to break the cycle of the women he had known and to make me feel commendable. Unfortunately, he was very misguided in his actions. I truly believe that my self-image is a direct result of his teachings.
I kept thinking about your children while I read. I’m not sure why they were on my mind but I kept thinking how your life now, affects their lives forever. Teach Daniel to be the hero and show Natalie that it’s ok to want to be the princess, the beauty, and it’s ok to want to be rescued. Teach them both that it’s ok to reverse those roles on occasion. Teach them about hope and remind them never to forget. God is pursuing them, the same way he has been pursuing you for so long now.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
God has been pursuing a romance with my heart since before the beginning of time; I just need to stop and let him catch up. I am standing at the chasm, still not ready to make the choice but at least I’ve been reminded that the choice is MINE to make. This book is about me and the way I perceive my life and my choices and, no offense, was really not at all about finding liberation from my despair over you, even if it was my despair that led me to this awakening. There was a time when I thought I loved myself but I know I was only participating in the indulgences of life. I have to be more willing to allow God to rescue me and less distracted by the aforementioned indulgences. … I want to be the star in my story, with God standing center stage, with me, within me, as writer, director and producer.
If I had not been open to let you touch my heart and soul, and leave me wounded and hurt, I would not have been awakened and reminded of God’s true love for me. I want to share in a story, a fairy tale of love and hate and monsters and disappointment and more love and then…complete forgiveness. That is the message I want to share.
“…trying to free ourselves through willpower is futile. Only God’s Spirit himself can free us or even bring us to our senses.”
I have to let go of the idea that I’m different from every other girl, because I am not. I am every woman. This book gives me hope that there is something better out there, yet to be experienced and just waiting for me. And this has nothing to do with finding my one true love or even a false love, but finding myself first. Everything else will come.
My feelings for you are MY cross to bear, not yours. And I fully intend to bear that burden with grace and as much dignity as I have left…I forgive you and I pray that you will forgive me…in the meantime, I have God’s romance to fill my empty heart and this letter is my way of letting the excess flow into you. I don’t want you to ever regret anything that you did with me because in the end, they did live happily ever after, just not with each other. Please dismiss any guilt that you have in your heart because of me. You have been forgiven and there is no need for you to continue to torture yourself. You have enough demons to battle, to defeat, to prove your heroism with. In your darkest hours, know that you are loved….by God….and me. And remember, there is hope.