Originally published Wednesday, 26 June 2013.
Today on the blog we're featuring Erin Healy, an award-winning editor and bestselling co-author of the novels Kiss and Burn. This article is based on some of the themes of her newest novel, Afloat.
This year my husband and I missed our anniversary. We didn’t forget the date, and we had plans, but life happened and we had to postpone. We’re hoping to celebrate belatedly sometime this summer.
My husband and I have recently survived the roughest spot of our eighteen-year married life. We marked number seventeen with a quiet dinner for two—two strangers halfheartedly trying to figure out a separation and wondering how we got to that point. Over the next ten months we traveled well down the road toward divorce before we were able to face the truth of what had gone wrong and what was required to right it.
The trip back might take as long as the trip out. But at least we’re headed in the right direction now.
Recently our pastor gave a sermon about marriage. “The purpose of marriage isn’t to make us happy,” he said, “but to teach us how to be holy.” Selfless, patient, longsuffering. Pure in love. The way Jehovah loves Israel; the way Hosea loved Gomer; the way Christ loves the world.
In other words, there sure is a lot of suffering involved in loving another person.
My new novel, Afloat, is a supernatural-disaster survival story about a motley bunch of people stranded on a river in a floating home. They are divided over how to get out alive, and two deaths expose hidden intentions and dark histories. More than this, Afloat is a story about human love in the broadest terms. Can we love well when our survival instincts are running in high gear?
The answer is yes. And no.
“Loving any human being always involves a little bit of dying.” Ranier says to Vance in Afloat. At the time I wrote that line I was facing the truth of it and thinking that maybe I didn’t want to “die.” I wanted out of this love business. Not just marital love, but all kinds of love: loving friends, loving family, loving neighbors. And loving a complete stranger? Forget it. Some days it’s just so hard. Because true love isn’t about what I want, it’s about what someone else needs. And on many days it feels like I have nothing left to give.
Indecision wrestled within Vance. He wanted to stay in this perfect place, find his father and Zeke and all the other amazements he was so sure it contained. But he didn’t want to leave Danielle and Simeon to Tony’s whims. And he didn’t want to die again.
God gets this. Christ didn’t want to die either. But he did. For us. Even those of us who don’t love him back. Since the dawn of time he’s loved people whether or not they reciprocate—and even when he thought he couldn’t go through with it: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup [of suffering] pass from me.”
Which makes the notion that “I have nothing left to give” just plain ridiculous. I can never be empty of love because the love of Christ is bottomless and borderless, and it’s for me. It’s for you. Not so we can hoard it, soak in it until we wrinkle, but so we can spread it around. Share the love. Really.
“Loving any human being always involves a little bit of dying,” Ranier says. “I hear it gets easier every time.”
Today, I’m going to test that idea and see if it’s true. I’ve got a hunch that it is.
What makes it hard or easy for you to love a fellow human?
Erin Healy is an award-winning editor and bestselling co-author (with Ted Dekker) of the supernatural suspense novels Kiss andBurn. Healy delivers a unique take on suspense with a little decidedly feminine point of view, although she admits her latest release, Afloat,has more of the male point of view than her previous releases.
She began her career as an editor and has worked with many popular authors in a number of genres. Healy currently resides in Colorado Springs, CO, with her husband, Tim, and two children. She is a member of International Thriller Writers and the American Christian Fiction Writers.
Visit her website at www.erinhealy.com to sign up for her newsletter and learn more about her books. She’s also on Facebook(erinhealybooks) and Twitter(@erinhealybooks).