Here’s a little sample from the introduction I have written for my book this week. It should give you an idea of where the book is headed:
When I first began to move from “I’d love to write a book someday” to “It’s time to start working on my first book,” I intended to compose a book of practical guidance for achieving healthier relationships. I felt sure this would include some references to spiritual matters, and might even include a few examples from scripture. After all, I am a Christian, which impacts my life and counseling practice in significant ways. Of course my book on relationships will be informed by Christian views and Biblical teaching.
I arrived at The Parish Hermitage in a quiet South Louisiana bayou for my “writing retreat,” where I intended to begin writing the book that had been forming within me for years, and was finally groaning to be birthed. I had prayed about this moment and the ensuing season of writing my book for months. But until I knelt to pray beside the table holding my new notebook computer and my stack of selected sourcebooks, I had not yet surrendered this project to God’s will. Oh, how surrendering my life to the will of God changes everything! When I genuinely, humbly surrendered, He lovingly took control. He keeps teaching me how much better my life is when I am surrendered and He is in control, and slowly I am beginning to learn. But the lessons can be so difficult for me. It is not in my nature to surrender and yield control to another. I want to dominate and seize as much control as possible. Don’t you? (I hope you will take the time and courage to answer that simple question honestly, not just dismissing it as “rhetorical.”)
And as the Spirit of God began to lead my surrendered mind and will, I reflected back on my plans for my book (notice the word “my” three times in this sentence).“I intended to compose a book of practical guidance for achieving healthier relationships. I felt sure this would include some references to spiritual matters, and might even include a few examples from scripture. After all, I am a Christian, which impacts my life and counseling practice in significant ways. Of course my book on relationships will be informed by Christian views and Biblical teaching.” What kind of part-time believer am I?!! I seem to be more of a dabbler in wise moral concepts than a disciple of Jesus Christ. Include? How about consumed?! It’s not just the book, or even my counseling practice. Does my life include notions of Jesus, or is my life consumed by the Light of the world? Impacts? What about transformation?! Is the work of my life merely impacted by the love of God, or is my life work transformed by the God who loves me so much He would send His only Son down to this fallen world to be tortured and killed by my sins, all so I could be saved from those sins and made fit to live with Him in His kingdom? Informed? What happened to led?! Am I picking up morsels of God’s truth to help inform my enlightened views of life and relationships, or am I yielding my will and mind to the daily leadership of the Holy Spirit?
I so frequently distinguish between my “spiritual life” and the rest of my life. This is a common distinction made by many people in Western culture today, regardless of their level of religious conviction. Thanks to the relentless love of God and his persistent, gentle voice, I have come to realize this is a grave error. In much the same way, as I counsel my clients through their problems in life it can be easy for me to emphasize “practical” issues from a professional, secular perspective, rather than using the language of Biblical truths as my guide.
I am both humbled and excited to follow God’s leading as I write this book. I set out to write a book about the most important underlying dynamics that drive the way we relate with one another. It looks like that is exactly where He is leading me. . .just not in quite the way I expected. Well, as a dear friend of mine often says, “One of the keys to contentment in life is to let go of expectations.” Here we go…