Reading and Wrestling and Hope for Us All

Originally published Monday, 16 July 2012.


In Tara Leigh Cobble’s memoir Here’s to Hindsight, she talks about Lauren F. Winner’s memoir Girl Meets God:

On my flight back from New York, I started reading a book called Girl Meets God by Lauren F. Winner, which might as well be called ‘Why I’m Better Than You.’ In other words, I’m jealous of her. … The author’s stories are the ones I wanted to live. It makes me wonder where I would be if I had not taken this route.(Here’s to Hindsight, p. 36-37)

I never quite felt that way reading Girl Meets God, but I did feel like I wanted to be friends with Lauren Winner, in the same way that I wanted to be friends with Tara Leigh Cobble after reading her memoir. (They’re both two of my favorites, and I’d heartily recommend them both for reading material.)

So when I heard that Winner had come out with another memoir-esque book (she asserts that it is not a memoir) entitled Still, I couldn't wait to read it, since it's been nearly a decade since Girl Meets God was released.

The thing is, though, that while Girl Meets God was written in the wake of Winner becoming a Christian, Still is written in the wake of her divorce. I don’t know her, but like I said, I always thought if I did meet her, maybe we’d be friends. So when I learned that news—that she had divorced her husband—it kind of took my breath away, especially as a happily-married, couldn't-imagine that wife but more importantly Christian.

If you’re curious to know what went wrong in her marriage or all the sordid details of the marital breakdown, you won’t find it in this book. She actually mentions very little and what she does mention, she portrays all of that with grace and restraint and lots of self-deprecation, placing the blame of the failed marriage on herself rather than on her ex-husband.

But what you will find in this book is how she talks about how her divorce affected her relationship with God, how she found herself feeling disconnected from God. Most importantly, though, what you will find in this book, which I appreciated, is how even in those times of feeling disconnected from God, she pushed toward him, she continued seeking him, even when they were in only in bits and scraps of moments and efforts and thoughts and prayers.

It is a brutally honest book to be sure, and one that I think few would come away from saying that the moniker ought to be retitled “Why I’m Better Than You.” I think few will come away from reading this part of her story and find themselves jealous of the inner and spiritual turmoil she writes of.

This is not the place to discuss the sanctity of marriage or the sin of her actions and how they consequently affected her relationship with God and whether she was "asking for" the turmoil that ensued. That is not the point of this post.

Rather, the thing that captured my heart as I read her story was something that I think is a challenge we all will face at one time another, because that feeling of feeling disconnected from God, like he's pulled away from us, is a common one, I think, no matter whether it's caused by sin of our own or just the journey of faith.

The thing is, which I think Winner showcases in the book, is that in those moments we have to push on in our faiths, that even when we don’t “feel” like it, when we don’t “feel” close to God, that we still have to push through and fight for our faith and press to reconnect to him.

Too often, I think when some people find themselves at that juncture—whether it’s because of broken dreams or unanswered prayers or just a life that isn’t what they’d expected—they give up. Instead of fighting and pushing and pressing on, they give up.

And that just grieves my heart.

Because it doesn’t have to be that way.

In the Old Testament, we see Jacob who wrestles and wrestles and doesn’t let go until he gets that which he seeks, until the morning when he’s granted a blessing. There’s a lesson in that story, an archetype for all who have followed in his footsteps, Jacob, now renamed Israel: Sometimes we must be willing to wrestle and not let go until God reveals his face to us, until he relents and gives us his blessing.

And that is what I saw in Winner’s raw and honest and heart-wrenching book, Still. I saw proof that if we do not let go—even when our heart and our circumstances and our feelings tell us otherwise—that, as James 4:8 says, “Come close to God, and God will come close to you.”

Let us not give up on God, on our faith, on his Love that overcomes even the darkest of days and sorrowest of sins. Let us come close and wrestle until we receive the blessing of his presence.

(Here are links for finding Here's to Hindsight by Tara Leigh Cobble, Girl Meets God by Lauren F. Winner, and Still by Lauren F. Winner on Amazon.)

Carmen writes the blog, Life Blessons, which provides an intimate look into her life as a twentysomething woman as she details her experiences learning how to live out her faith, enjoy the simple things in life and be the woman God created to her to be. Along the way, she shares the blessings and lessons that are a part of this journey, the things she likes to call her "blessons."

Feel free to learn more at her blog, Life Blessons.

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