If I were to ask you to list a variety of things we should guard our hearts against, what would you list? I imagine things like bitterness, evil, unjustified anger, greed, envy, and pride would likely sprinkle the list. I've recently been consumed by reading. I've found that I enjoy reading more now than ever before. So much so, that it has actually taken away time from facebook (gasp!). I find it very difficult to put down a book once I've turned the first page. In my head it is like a movie that I don't want to interrupt. For years there has been one particular secular author I have enjoyed reading. Recently, I was introduced to some "inspirational" suspense/romance novels. One particular series was a 7 book series in which I completed 6 of the 7 books in less than two weeks. While I waited for the one that I had not yet read to arrive by inter-library loan, I gobbled up another two-book series.
I was so enthralled with the well written suspense and I was equally thrilled I felt no guilt in reading the romance that never materialized on paper beyond a kiss and an embrace. The more I read the more hopeful I was that this was indeed what love should look like. I began to ponder what had happened to the romance in my own marriage? I checked myself (with the help of the Holy Spirit) and realized that I was reading "the pursuit." Each book I read focused on the beginning of new relationships, not the reality of living in a relationship. I returned to my photo albums to remember that I too had once been "pursued" by a handsome, loving man I now call my husband. Then yesterday, I ran across an article by Russel Moore that suggested that romance novels could hurt your heart. The article pointed to similarities between romance novels (even "inspirational" romance) having the same emotional impact on a woman as the physical impact pornography has on men. He did not by any means make them moral equals. Is his conclusion wrong? Honestly, for me it was confirmation that there really is a potential threat to fall into the belief that the man in my life must be all (alpha-male) man and at the same time possess all the sensitive, romantic ideologies of my female brain. I'm not suggesting we throw out all forms of romantic literature. I enjoy a good, page-turning book and the tears and excitement that come along with it. What I have concluded is that it is just that...a book, a fictional story, an escape from reality that is not to be projected onto what is my relationship reality. Yesterday I finished another book. This one a different story about a couple married 21 years on the verge of divorce. Only through their renewed relationship with God were they both able to see their own fault in their marital struggles and move together on the road of reconciliation. It was a story almost too real to read. He blamed her for this, she blamed him for that and they altogether gave up on trying to serve and love the other until they were too miserable to even speak to each other. In the end, they realized that the walls they built around their hearts were built on lies they had told themselves. It was the truth that set them free to love each other again.
My truth is this: God has blessed me with a wonderful husband. He may not be the female-brained, alpha-male guy in the romance novel, but he is mine, a gift from God to love and cherish all the days of my life. Given the time and effort necessary, I too would pen our story in an inspirational pursuit of true love. Until that day, I will choose to write our story on the pages of my heart and guard this priceless treasure that God has given me.
~"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." Proverbs 4:23