For Every Single Christian

Washed and Waiting by Wes Hill

WashedWes Hill is a Christian pastor and professor who has grappled with homosexual desires all his life despite desperate attempts to be rid of them. Washed and Waiting is a book about his experiences in the church, his thoughts as he contends with his “handicap,” and a beautiful statement of a strong man’s commitment to the holiness of Christ outside the frontiers of ordinary comfort which most of us experience. I was most surprised, not by the strangeness of his temptations and struggles, but by their familiarity. No, I have never experienced same-sex attraction, but I have experienced brokenness in many areas of my life, including my desires. Sometimes known as “disordered affections,” we ALL have them in some form.

Hill’s greatest challenge is a deep and abiding loneliness. In fact, his sexuality seems almost easily set aside (though I doubt it has been easy) compared with this disconnection, the feeling that he will never really belong to anyone or anything. First, Hill wonders whether the love of Christ is sufficient to cure him, and he speaks poignantly about the physical dimensions of companionship which we cannot experience with Christ on this earth. Next, he looks to the community of believers as a source for the agape love he most needs.  While he has had some amazing friends and mentors, his loneliness has not abated.

The author’s desire for intimacy reminded me of the deep, true and yet sometimes naive longing I hear from my never-married friends and clients. Someone who has not experienced the joys and challenges of married life imagines it to be the cure for what ails them. They color it with a healing hue that marriage only partially and intermittently possesses. They fail to consider that marriage can be the loneliest place on earth and one of the most difficult, that in many cases, God intends marriage more for our refining than for our enjoyment. In all honesty, my closest relationships have always been with other Christian women, though I believe that the committed aspect of marriage meets a deep need for belonging that no other institution quite satisfies.  Being (or having been) married tells us that we are worthy in a way nothing else does.  Truly, it is not good for man to be alone – it is very hard.

In the modern western world, we do not expect to do hard things. We don’t expect to lose children, to suffer the privations of war, to be persecuted for our faith or to be deeply unfulfilled in any area of life. We don’t cultivate a faith big enough to carry us through those trials; we go out and change our circumstances. We change jobs, change houses, change spouses, change churches. We consider unfulfilled longing to be a fixable and unnatural state – whereas, it is utterly the state of fallen man, and faith alone is the foundation which can hold us fast when other anchors drift. Unlike so many today who demand their cravings be fulfilled, who give up on their promises, who prefer to ask for forgiveness than to live in obedience, and some who would even change Scripture rather than deny their disordered desires, Wes Hill is willing to live with his loneliness and longing for one lifetime so that his King might be glorified for eternity.

Washed and Waiting is a book for every single (never married) Christian and a book for every single (all, everywhere) Christian. May we all become more like the author. May we cultivate a faith which is deeper than our brokenness, more willing to suffer for Christ, more committed to holiness and more compelling for all that.


Related Material:

A Message for Pastors from Wes Hill

Wes Hill’s Tumblr Blog

Organizations:

http://www.livingout.org/

http://www.sexualidentityinstitute.org/

http://harvestusa.org/

 

Parenting 101

Love & Respect in the Family by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

L&RDr. Eggerichs’ first book, Love & Respect, was published to immediate acclaim in 2004.  His simple, Biblical prescription for marriage spoke to many in a clear, practical way that few other self-help programs have done before or since.  His most recent version of the formula is an application to parenthood.  How many of us, as children, have longed for a love we missed, and how many of us, as parents, have wished for real respect from our children?  Eggerichs addresses both sides of the equation in a thorough but easy-to-read style which is sure to hit home in many Christian families.

The book is built around a forgettable acronym which nevertheless incorporates most of the questions and problems every parent must face.  Covering topics like discipline, putting your spouse first, parenting the genders differently and understanding a teenager, the chapters come in manageable, even encouraging bites.  Eggerichs not only deals with common parental mistakes but delivers positive strategies to head off future problems.  He offers plenty of good advice in a practical style with stories and examples for creativity-challenged parents like me.

My only criticism of the book is its slightly outdated feel.  The book assumes a nuclear, biological family situation much closer to the Cleavers than the Pritchetts.  There is no helpful presentation of strategies for two working parents with a blended set of kids enduring the over-scheduled, media-hyped existence most of us really live.

That said, I think this is the best, all-around book on parenting (rather than a targeted approach for a distinct subset of ages or problems) that I have seen since Ross Campbell’s How to Really Love Your Child (first published in 1977).  I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to my daughter who is awaiting the birth of my first grandchild.  And I hope it finds its way into a lot of Christmas stockings this year.


Love and Respect Ministries

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Overextended by Lisa Harper

Grab a cup of coffee, and get ready for a long chat with a great friend because that’s exactly what this book feels like.  Overextended… And Loving Most of It! by Lisa Harper, one woman’s defense of passion over balance, is mostly Lisa’s journey of adopting an HIV-positive daughter from Haiti.  It lofts the reader through comical incidents and tearful moments along the way as easily as Jesus carries stumbling humans over hazardous trails.

Here’s a prideful boast an honest disclaimer: Lisa and I are friends.  (OK I’ve met her a couple of times).  She’s from Central Florida where I live, and we had a few meals together when she was the local Focus on the Family representative a number of years ago.  Her forte is delivering theological content through humorous vignettes in front of large crowds, but whether in a crowded auditorium, alone at a table,  or through the pages of a book, Lisa has the gift of making you feel you like a friend.

Overextended contains a few memorable points like this one: “In my experience there’s a ditch on either side of the road of life that people tend to get stuck in when they’ve suffered painful, traumatic or deeply disappointing events.  One ditch is that of minimizing their emotional wounds and the other is stage-lighting them” (p. 137-38).  That’s worth closing the book to digest with God at a personal level.  However, most of this quick read was more like glancing over a friend’s Facebook page – warm, amusing and insubstantial.  It also contained many extended quotes from other authors and contexts which seemed a little like cheating.

I like Lisa’s thesis, that passion may be a more valuable attribute in God’s economy than the balance we are all always striving for, but I’d rather hear it in Lisa’s trademark, bubbly speaking voice than read it in the more serious medium of a book.  However, if you enjoy adoption memoirs, quirky people or light bedtime stories devoted to Jesus, then I’d recommend Overextended to you.

I review for BookSneeze®