I’ve been an avid reader of romance since about half-way through high school. I’ll admit that I even like a few mainstream romance authors, even though I have to skip pages now and then as the characters fall into bed without a thought for closing the door behind them. I love the stories–the perfect girl meeting that perfect man and they fall madly in love. Of course they have a few issues–it’s not a romance novel if they don’t! But most of the time, those are easily overcome, and they’re off on their happily ever after. But it’s fiction. Make believe. Pretend.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of books out there with broken heroes (or heroines) – but usually they’re broken by things outside their control. They were in a fire, or a war, or came from an abusive home. And while yes, those are terrible things to have to overcome, it seems to be easier for us to love people who didn’t choose what broke them.
Real life is messy. None of us are that perfect man or woman. Very few of us ladies are the 36-24-36 of myth. Very few men have that perfect V-shaped physique. And the baggage we carry around…let’s be honest, it’s good we don’t have actual suitcases that have to follow us throughout the day!
But I have some fantastic news–for you and for me–Jesus didn’t just come to love those fictional perfect people. He doesn’t care what your measurements are. And He wants to carry your suitcases for you. When it comes to romance, the love story of God sending His Son for the express purpose of redeeming His broken creations? Well, you don’t get better than that. If only we loved all the broken like God does. (I love the picture above – I took it in Ireland, at Monasterboice – and to me it’s a beautiful representation of the Cross standing firm in the ruins of our lives.)
I spent twenty years in pro-life ministry. Not all of it was willing–my mother dragged my sister and me along with her when she first got involved. But I came to love the women who walked through the doors of the pregnancy center my mom ran. They were women who’d made choices–for a whole host of reasons–that had thrown their lives into turmoil.
The women who came to us after having an abortion were often the most broken. Their choice had wrecked relationships, caused them to question the fiber of who they were, and left them wondering if it was possible for anyone to ever love them again. This was especially true for the women who were Christians yet made that choice anyway. It was incredible to watch them find peace again as they worked through Bible studies at the center and embraced the forgiveness and love of Christ.
My time working at the center inspired my first novel, Wisdom to Know. The heroine, Lydia, isn’t perfect–in fact, she’s a little more broken than most publishers are interested in. She’s like you and me–a Christian who sins. She makes choices knowing they’re wrong but rationalizing them away. And she ends up broken down even further before she’s willing to accept love – from Jesus or Kevin. (It’s a romance, there has to be a hero, right?) But I love Lydia. Her wounds are deep and the scars over them are tough, but she’s proof that love – Christ’s love – really does cover a multitude of sin. And that there are people who will choose to love the broken–even the broken who brought it on themselves.