In A Relationship
December 10 2005
Approximately five minutes ago I finished reading Redeeming Love by Fracine Rivers. Before picking this book up I was hesitant, after all, "Christian Romance" doesn't sound too exciting does it? Not to say that Christians aren't romantic but very few people talk about it, much capture the essence and wonder of it. Rivers, however, did just that and more. The book itself is about a woman who was sold/forced into prostitution at age eight, eight, after finding out her father had never watned her and her mother had aslo been a prostitute. She lived this way for ten years, not by choice but because she could not escape. She endured unspeakable cruelties at the hands of the men who possessed her. Needless to say by age eighteen she is bitter, hopeless, and a master of pretense and controlling her emotions, she feels nothing. But more disturbing is that she believes she is what they say, she believes she is a mistake, from birth on. In the depths of her barren soul she believes it.
In the book a man comes along, Michael. He is a servant of God. He has waited for God's direction, God leads him to Angel. Michael does not understand does not want the road before him but he takes it. He goes after Angel, climbing into the pit she lives in, he tries to rescue her. Of course she wants nothing to do with it, she's heard it ALL before and its just a matter of time before the words run out. For some it is a short time, for others longer, but regardless, in her mind they are all the same. Men are all the same. She is awful to this kind-hearted man, pushes him away, even when something very small and still begins to unfurl inside the heart she thought no longer existed. Eventually, through MANY trials Michael gets through to her, although not with God's help, a God she denies even while He is working in her. However despite all the obedience and work and progress it turns out that it is not Angel's way of life that is the biggest wall, but yet herself.
This is where the book delves deep for me. Despite his love, Angel, somewhere deep inside, continues to believe what has been said about her all along, even when she doesn't realize its there, the dark voice whispers to her about what she's always known. "It will never change" "It will end" "You don't deserve this man or his love, he will tire of you" "Leave him before he can leave you" "Get out now before he tires of you" "Don't love, it will be the death of you" "Don't hope, its a slow painful death"
These terrible mantras haunt her, even when she consciously banishes them, even when she begins to believe in Michael, begins to fall in love. The dark voice remains. And so she fights, in her fear she pushes him away, she can't need, can't hope, can't love. After all she's seen exactly what its done to the people in her life who have done those foolish things. She pushes him away, runs away. For it is not that she does not love him, she most certainly does, it is her fear. This seemingly indestructible fear that no matter what she does or how deeply she loves or how tightly she holds on, or what she does to please this man that someday, someway she won't be enough. In her mind she will never be enough. So she runs.
It brought me to tears as I saw my own heart's words written on the pages before me. How many times have I let msyelf believe I wasn't enough? How many times have I pushed away the one person I believe I'm meant for because I was scared to need, scared that if I did need, that one day he'd be gone? This character's internal battles are my own, her war with myself is my own. Though my circumstances are different in some ways, the wounds are the same. It is only through God that Angel learns what it is to be whole again. Despite her aching to make herself whole for the man she loves she cannot on her own. Its takes God. And even as she accepts and understands more and more of this God away from the man she loves, she still doubts, the old ghosts, though they can no longer hurt her, they still haunt. But she goes back. And by God's grace alone he is there, waiting, only for her.
I want that. Not that I want to run and have someone come after me. But I want the ONLY YOU kind of love. There was one particular part in which Angel is talking to a friend about how undeserving she is of this man she loves to consumption and her friend says. "Michael choose you." What a wonderful feeling. I believe, by God's grace and mercy, I, too, have been chosen despite my innumerable faults, flaws, and lack of worthiness, by one remarkable, wonderful man. Now if only I can live up to the role. . .