Written Sunday, December 16 – maybe I should start dating these when I write them, because I hardly ever write one and publish it right away.
What? What is this? A book review?!? Do those still appear on this blog (which was originally founded with the purpose of publishing book reviews)?
Well, this is kind of a book review. I just finished this book.
Do you ever feel like God throws a book at you and tells you to read it? This one practically jumped off the shelf at me at the library a few weeks ago. So I checked it out, brought it home, put it on my desk, and forgot about it for a few weeks. Then I got a notice that it was coming due, so I renewed it and figured I should read it.
I read the first sentence and slammed the book shut. If the first sentence made me cry, I reasoned, what would the rest of the book do to me? I laid it aside for a few more days. Then challenges and low serotonin levels made me crave an escape, so I picked it up again. I made it through the first sentence, again, and the one after that. Soon, I was enthralled.
The story is told from the perspective of Helen Joy Davidman, or Joy, who was a brilliant author and poet in her own right, but is now mostly remembered for being the beloved wife of C.S. Lewis. It briefly touches on her upbringing and formative years before going right into the heart of it’s purpose: telling the story of a friendship based on mutual respect and admiration turning to a deep lasting love. They first connected intellectually, then through creativity, collaborating and helping each other with their various writing projects. Their friendship grew to love. It is a beautiful tale beautifully told.
I just finished it. I’m still crying.
Their romance was impossible: she was married when they started corresponding, he walled his feelings off and pretended they didn’t exist until it was almost too late. In many ways their story differs from my own, but guys, this book mirrors the story that I’m in the middle of right now. And right now I’m in a particularly painful chapter, and so God shoved this book in my face and told me to read it. He is so good. At just the right time, He puts a story like this into my mind. It’s fiction, yes, but meticulously researched and corroborated fiction. It might not have happened the way Patti Callahan imagined it, but the way she imagined it touched my heart. It gave me hope that God can do anything – even make the impossible possible. The way she described Jack (C.S.’s nickname) reminded me so powerfully of Trent – a zest for life, a keen mind, and creativity that would blow your socks off (that’s not really how she described Jack’s creativity – she worded it much more elegantly). It’s descriptions of friendship turned to love inspired a renewed love for Trent, even though it’s been seven months since I’ve seen him, six months since I’ve talked to him on the phone, and seven days since I’ve heard from him at all.
I don’t know what God is doing with all this. The last communication with Trent was pretty much a list of why he doesn’t want to hurt me again, and why we wouldn’t work. It’s been six months since the break up, guys. I’ve been thinking more and more that I really need to move on, to figure out what life should look like now, to ask God to give me a new plan and purpose – I mean I could go anywhere and do anything. And then He goes and does something like this. Something that pulls my heart more strongly in a direction where the person of my desire is seemingly throwing up every excuse and barrier he can think of in the name of “not hurting you like that again.”
My hope must stay in God, a realization this book confirmed. My hope is that no matter what happens, He is glorified. Because that is a hope that will not disappoint. It is a hope that says “break my heart, God, break it as many times as You need to so long as You are glorified.” It is a hope that says “I am nothing, God. You are everything. Use me as You will.” And then I ask God to continually renew my hope in Him – which He faithfully has. Every time it’s faltered in the last six months something happens that bolsters it and possibly even makes it grow.
I feel like Trent is currently reluctant to talk to me because he’s afraid of leading me on, of starting something he wouldn’t be able to make good on. He doesn’t have to worry about that. He’s not leading me on. God is. My hope isn’t in Trent being able to fulfill a promise, because Trent is human. He will fail. My hope is in God fulfilling His promises, because He will. He will not fail me, Trent, or us.
The first sentence that made cry was: “From the very beginning it was the Great Lion who brought us together.”
The last paragraph that made me cry (not the last one in the book, but close) was in the note from the author, reading: “Everything about Joy seemed ill-matched for an Oxford don and author of Narnia living in England. She was a married woman who lived in upstate New York with her two young sons, and she was a converted Jew, former atheist, ex-Communist. On paper there was not a more impossible pairing. Everything blocked the way to love, but in the end it was not impossible after all.”