About eighteen months ago, my mom handed me this little book and told me her book club was reading it. She thought I might like it. That little book was Epic by John Eldredge, and I more than liked it – the book fundamentally shifted the way I see my faith. And it made me want to read everything Eldredge has ever written.
One of the fundamental ideas in Eldredge’s writing is that humans were made for more than the mundane and drab; instead, we were made for joy and gloriousness and beauty. Thus, the standard perception (by most people, including many Christians) of Christianity as a list of rules and regulations and standards of behavior is misguided at best and harmful at worst. Instead, people should live in the glory that is God and that is the people they were made to be. I found this idea absolutely amazing. For years, I’ve braced myself against the church’s teachings about things like homosexuality because I did not fundamentally believe that God wanted us to invest all this energy in telling people who they shouldn’t be. How wonderful to think that our lives should be guided by a relationship with an all-loving God rather than by “dos and don’ts” set out by flawed humans like ourselves. (Note: Eldredge isn’t saying all behaviors or choices are acceptable; he’s just saying that those choices should be determined by relationship rather than regulation.)
In The Sacred Romance: Drawing Closer to the Heart of God, Eldredge delves into depth on how this relationship with God plays out. In his telling, the story of God and humanity is a romance where God is pursuing us, and we only need to turn to God. He talks about the ways we are wounded as children and young adults and about how we learn to cope with those wounds by shutting down or developing behaviors that protect us. The result of this self-protection is often a less than vivid life of survival rather than one of glory. Instead of hiding our wounds and acting as if they don’t exist, Eldredge urges us to carry them to God, the only One who can truly heal them.
One of the wounds I received as a child was the wound of rejection. I was not the most popular kid, and I was good at school (okay, I was outright nerdy). Therefore, I didn’t have many friends. I always had a couple of really key girls who I was close to, but I spent most of my time with my parents and brother, the people who always wanted to be near me (my brother won’t admit it, but he’s always liked me;)). Today, that wound plays out in a neediness that I display when it seems someone might leave me – either for the day or for good. I get clingy and controlling, and in the process, I end up driving people away, even if they weren’t even intending to leave. I am learning, slowly, to carry this wound before God and let God heal it. I am learning that my needs are met in God, even when they are not met in people. This is a painful process (even writing about it is painful), but it is holy and good.
Eldredge’s books have taught me to look for God in all moments and to seek God’s face when I feel most needy. God has been trying to tell me this for years, probably, but sometimes it takes the words of another human to get me to hear them.
If you’re a Believer looking for a fresh way to see your loving God, this book is great. If you’re not a Believer but would like to read about a God who loves you because you’re tired of a church who puts your behavior before your person, this book is for you.
– The Sacred Romance: Drawing Closer to the Heart of God