Have you ever read something that you felt was written just for you? In the past two years, it has happened to me twice with novels I have read. I felt like the author was writing my life story. OK, so there were a few twists and turns and plot points that did not accurately fit my life. But the books dealt so closely with things that I was dealing with in my life that I felt like God had given both stories to the author with the intent of having me read the books.
Even more amazing is that both books were written by the same author.
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The author I am talking about is Christa Allan. I am not sure when I first met Christa online. But when I read her novel Walking on Broken Glass in early 2010, I felt like she must have known me forever. Though we had not (and still have not) met face-to-face, she captured my feelings of lose, hopelessness, and addiction so accurately in Leah Thornton, the main character of her debut novel. Through that book, I was forced to face a truth about my life that I had been running from for years. Facing that truth has led me to a healthier life today. I won’t repeat my review of this book, but if you want to revisit it, you can find it here.
That first book affected my so deeply that I was more than anxious to read her second novel, the recently released The Edge of Grace. I didn’t know what the book was about. I didn’t really need to know—Christa had written it, and that was enough for me! I requested a review copy of the book and waited for it to be delivered. When it came, I immediately read the back of the book—and the book very nearly fell from my hands.
An early morning call shatters Caryn Becker’s world. Unable to cope with her brother’s news that he is gay, Caryn rejects him and disappears into her own turbulent like as a young widow and single mom. But when David is attacked and nearly killed, Caryn is forced to make hard choices about family, faith and her own future; choices that take her to the very edge of grace.
In all honesty, I couldn’t decide if I should laugh or cry. One thought kept running through my head: “She did it again!” One again, without knowing it at all, Christa Allan had written a book similar to what I was experiencing in my life. In that moment I knew that this book was going to change my life.
Just a few days before the book arrived in the mail, my husband received a phone call from his brother. Not a big surprise. My husband receives calls almost weekly from his brother. The surprise was in the reason for the call.
It had been over ten years since we’d been shocked at the news that he was gay. For the past four or five years, we had accepted his partner as a part of our family. He came to birthday parties for our sons, and the two men hosted holiday dinners in their home. Our sons even accepted the relationship between Uncle Mike and Dr. Erik—though at 4, 7, and 10, I am not sure they fully understood just what “gay” meant. The news that Mike was gay had been so shocking, especially as it followed so closely the heels of the first in a series of strokes for their mother, that I didn’t think anything would shock me about him.
I found out how wrong I was about that when my husband said, “We’ve been invited to a wedding in New York. Mike and Erik, later this fall. Mike wants me to be his best man.”
OK, so the news really wasn’t all that shocking. I already knew that Mike and Erik were very committed to each other. My husband and I had talked in the past about how relieved we were that same sex marriage is not legal in Michigan, where we all live. But Erik was raised in New York and still has family there. Now that same sex marriage is legal there, he proposed to my brother-in-law. Good for them. Not so good for us.
My husband and I share very strong faith in Christ. We both believe that the Bible is very clear on homosexuality as a sin. We have never pushed Mike away or attempted to make him feel like his “gayness” makes him a bad person. (Perhaps never is too strong. I know that Mike and I had some blow-ups over it in the beginning. I clearly remember Mike yelling at me, “Just once I’d like to find someone claiming to be a Christian show tolerance for a gay lifestyle!” My response was to scream just as loudly, “Just once I’d like to find someone living a gay lifestyle show tolerance for the Christian faith!”) It’s just part of who he is, and he is family. We love him no matter what—even if we don’t agree with how he chooses to live his life. That is what Christ wants from us, right? That whole, “Love the sinner, hate the sin” thing.
But now we were faced with a dilemma—would it be possible to love Mike and not disappoint God at the same time?
In many ways, attending their wedding (let alone being a part of it, as my husband had been asked to do), felt like it was condoning their lifestyle. And if we are condoning that lifestyle, are we dishonoring God? Is it all possible to show our love of Christ, to provide action to our faith, and still show love and support to a beloved member of our family?
These are the questions that I was dealing with when I began reading Christa Allan’s latest book. I didn’t expect that her book would answer all of my questions. Honestly, I didn’t know if it would answer any of them. But I was hoping that reading the book would help me to at least find some perspective. Another Christian woman, dealing with the same sort of issues that I was? At the very least, I hoped that reading the book would help me to feel less alone.
Was I disappointed in the book? Did the fictional experiences of these characters help me to deal with my own reality? If you want to know, come back tomorrow to read my review of Christa Allan’s book The Edge of Grace.