I’m continuing on this series starting at chapter 9.
This chapter quickly delves into the odd relationship of Jim and Elisabeth. Jim confesses his feelings of love towards Elisabeth, but in the same day also tells her that “god is calling him to remain single.” She comments that she was unable to declare her love, because she wanted to remain in g-d’s will rather than follow her heart.
The thought that we have to wait for g-d to make his will clear also affected my life. I’m not sure if I can place the blame fully on this book. But I had internalized the message that I can’t declare my love if it’s not “g-d’s will.”
This led to a period in my life where I was highly confused about how proceed in my relationship with “her.” My emotions said “she’s cute go for it,” but I didn’t know if that was what g-d wanted me to do. In my mind it was selfish for me to follow my own desires, and I wanted permission from g-d to go ahead with the relationship. I prayed and waited several months for an answer, but didn’t really receive an answer. I took g-d’s silence as a silent conformation of my prayers.
But all of this could have been avoided if I had just learned to trust myself. To lean into my feelings and to express those feelings to others. Instead of waiting for some deity to confirm my emotions and feelings.
Jim makes it clear he loves the author. But after those statements he makes it clear he can’t commit to a relationship until he gets an answer from g-d. In fact he admits he’s given all of his romantic feelings over to g-d.
“I’ve given you and all my feelings for you to God. He’ll have to work out whatever He wants.”
“‘I’m hungry for you, Bett,'” he had said. He was not one to beat about the bush. ‘We’re alike in our desire for God. I’m glad for that. But we’re different, too. I’ve got the body of a man, and you’ve got the body of a woman, and frankly, I want you. But you’re not mine.’ Not his. God’s. That much was clear” p52
This chapter just further talks about giving all desires over to g-d. It’s basically a remix of the same ideas from chapter 10.
Elisabeth and Jim discuss the idea of being willing to lay their relationship on the alter as “sacrifice” to g-d. As the moon rises a literal shadow falls between them, and they take this a sign from g-d confirming their “sacrifice.” Elisabeth then describes a period of “waiting on g-d” and trying to be patient as they both wait for an answer from g-d.
Some quick thoughts from me. Why did they feel the need to sacrifice their relationship? How does a shadow constitute as a “definite” sign from g-d? This whole painful experience was entirely self-made.
In this chapter the author graduates and says goodbye to Jim. Further discussing sacrifice and the “cost” of doing things g-d’s way. She admits she desires for Jim to kiss her and to never let her go, but she pushes those desires away and mournfully leaves him behind at college.
“Purity comes at a high price. There was no getting away from that.” p 62
Once again this whole “painful sacrifice” could have been entirely avoided. No one was doing this to them. They did this willingly to themselves.
Honor is discussed in this chapter. But the author doesn’t delve to far into the subject. She makes statements about how honor is to be high in the highest respect, and how we should not let our passions override our honor.
A telling quote about the author’s sense of “honor.”
“For us, this was the way we had to walk, and we walked it, Jim seeing it his duty to protect me, I seeing it mine to wait quietly, not to attempt to woo or entice.” p 65
Yay! traditional gender roles and pretty archaic versions of them as well. I would like to just gently point back to my previous post on gender roles. But suffice to say roles like this did not work in my relationship with “her.”
The following quote sums up the chapter.
“‘When the will of God crosses the will of man,’ Addison Leitch said, ‘somebody has to die.’ Life requires countless ‘little’ deaths – occasions when we are given the chance to say not to self and yes to God.” p69
The author in this chapter discusses how the “death” mentioned in the previous chapter will bring in new life eventually. She encourages the reader not to give up or falter during this period of waiting for new life.
Loneliness is the theme of this chapter. The author gives the reader advice on how to deal with loneliness during periods of separation from those that we love. To me the author comes across as abrasive and dismissive.
Her advice to the lonely is “be still and know that He is God,” “remember that you are not alone”, “give thanks,” “refuse self-pity,” “accept your loneliness,” “offer up your loneliness to God,” and “do something for somebody else.” Once again her advice is merely that g-d is in control. Stop complaining about your trouble and accept it as “god’s will.”
“Taken in the right spirit these very things [loneliness] will give us patient endurance; this in turn will develop a mature character, and a character of tis sort produces a steady hope, a hope that will never disappoint us.” p77
Here is a tidbit that exposes a rather violent view of g-d. God is portrayed as someone that will not protect his followers. In fact according to this chapter his followers are to expect suffering.
“Our vision is so limited we can hardly imagine a love that does not show itself in protection from suffering. The love of God is of a different nature altogether. It does not hate tragedy. It never denies reality. It stands in the very teeth of suffering. The love of God did not protect His own Son. That was the proof of His love – that He gave that Son, that He let Him go to Calvary’s cross, though ‘legions of angels’ might have rescued Him. He will not necessarily protect us – not from anything it takes to make us like His Son. A lot of hammering and chiseling and purifying by fire will have to go into the process.” p81
The idea that g-d is trying to shape us through suffering is an idea that just repulses me currently. That g-d needs to cause his followers pain to improve their relationship with him. Only through suffering can they fully learn to rely on god.