Embarking on the Journey
through Hillary McFarland's new work,
I started out the day and kept checking the door to make sure that the "UPS man" had not escaped my attention, and maybe he came and left my book at the door without knocking. Hopeful that my book might arrive yesterday, I checked the UPS tracking number that I'd received from the bookseller by email. It was in Pennsylvania at 7:36AM , at least a ten hour drive away at that point, so I was sure that it would not arrive that day. (I was excited and obsessed enough to actually go to the UPS website to see where the book was. Am I nutz? Rhetorical question.. Please don't send me emails. We already know.)
I'd made several trips down the stairs to check my doorway for the book by the time the knock came! The only time I've ever been this excited about something coming in the mail has been when I received my Nursing Board results in the summer of '86, and I kissed the mailman when I opened the letter! I also watched the mail like a hawk for my engagement ring that my husband sent via regular post from half-way across the country in '88. (He didn't insure it, and it took over a week to arrive.) Rather than kiss the UPS man today, to express my excitement and gratitude, I gave him a pretty little gift box of Choxie candy that I'd picked up at Target (on clearance, of course ;).
I’d called Hillary on the phone, as we’d arranged in advance to open our packages while we had each other on the phone, acting like excited, silly school girls.
It was very surreal. I’ve been looking at the cover of the book, having seen at least one version of it before the final copy, so it is now familiar to me. It seemed very familiar as a book, and I could hardly believe that I was holding the real book with the pages in between that familiar scene I’d come to know. That felt weird. Hillary and I had talked about the little girl in the photo, and I prayed for her and all those little ones like her. You know those kind of prayers – one of those prayers were your heart just says a volume in an instant with a silent groan of travail that spills out of your chest and floods your arms and face with His presence mixed with your aching empathy.
I had to give it the general look, and it is beautiful. The margins are modest, making room for the maximum number of printed word. The print size is good. The chapter titles look lovely. The Table of Contents is clean and loaded with info which I like. (Some books have six simple lines, and this has lots of meat, even in the Table.)
Hillary had me jump to the acknowledgments, and I skimmed until I came to the place where she mentions me, and it is lovely. Then I cried a little, not much. (But I cried at that awful '70s remake of King Kong with Jessica Lange and Jeff Bridges, so this is not unusual for me.) I looked at the Afterword next with my name there on the page, and it feels odd. I flipped around through it, and it was terrifying in a sense. I’d sent that chapter to several book authors, doctors, nurses, counselors, and other mental health professionals for peer review, but there is still a sober feeling about one’s own words in a book. I love the image of the dandelion blossom gone to seed as an analogy for our words –when they have been blown into the wind, who could collect them back again? Though God remembers our every idle word, those in print seem different somehow. It’s a sober and serious thing, and as permanent as a thing can be when it is in a book, written down. May the wind carry those seeds and may they bring forth good fruit.
I read the recommendations just a page away from the book cover next, and they are all as excellent and as lovely as any in any excellent book. I feel the same way about Pastor Wade Burleson’s endorsement on the back cover. I join my heart to his words in prayer when I read them as he says, “Read it and weep. Read it and think. Read it and quiver no more.” That is my prayer.
Francis Schaeffer in an interview many years ago say that he would have likely have benefited spiritually if he had not spent a considerable effort addressing the more difficult aspects of living in a fallen world. (As Jocelyn Andersen, author of “Woman Submit!” wrote to me recently and likewise explained, she would also rather be “kicked back under my Honey Bell tree sipping lemonade and writing fiction with no point to it other than to enjoy.”) But as Schaeffer explained, he believed that God called him to address some of these more unpleasant issues that we Christians face in life, rather than focusing only and exclusively on the ideal. He obeyed what he understood as his calling to be faithful to do what God had called him to do. I also wish that I knew nothing of the painful elements of the pains faced by Quivering Daughters, spending all my days singing, playing the piano, and strumming my harp and bowed psaltery in the ecstasy of worship and communion with the Lord.
Hillary and I have bantered around with the idea that I am like a midwife to her in the effort to get this book to press, both of us childless in the flesh. I’d heard that old character T.L. Osborne preach one Christmas season that as the Spirit of the Lord overshadowed Mary and conceived Jesus in her womb, so does the Lord place the seed of His Word in the soil our hearts. In time, when the seed of that Word brings forth fruit, that which is born of us is of the Holy Spirit, too. (I’ve blogged about this in Christmas posts.) And I believe that God has blessed me with the honor of bearing fruit in the Spiritual sense, in many different ways, complete with labor and travail. In this same way, I see the effort that I have made to bring the message about spiritual abuse like a birthing, and for Hillary, this book is like her child. (If I could conveniently find that most excellent Ann Voskamp quote on the subject, I would post it. Alas, you'll have to buy Hilary's book or read both of their blogs to find it.)
I tried to catch up on some other things before I sat down to read the book so that I would not be interrupted and could give the book my full attention. I’d just read the beautiful Foreword by Elisabeth Esther (haunted by her “and yes, sweet one, it is abuse” comment, so aptly stated), and my husband arrived with mail in hand. There amidst the junk was a beautiful invitation to the wedding of my best friend’s son. My friend said a long time ago when her babes were small that I could take some credit for at least two of them for being so supportive of her and, at times, involved with the kids. (She just gets to pick which two at any given time, depending on whether she’s unhappy with them!)
It was a silly thing said in passing to me, but it meant so much to me, without any little ones of my own. I’ve watched this handsome and fine young man grow up from afar, and I am so proud of him and proud of his parents. I am so touched and deeply moved that this invitation came on this very day, like a kiss from heaven. I called my friend and wept, so glad that her son and her family became a part of this important day for me. Today, on the day that I feel like a midwife who has finally attended to her duties and now has a chance to hold and love the incredible gift of wonderful new life she has helped a young mother bring into the world.
I thought again of a poem I recently referenced (“The Gift,” by Padraic Pearse) which states:
O wise men, riddle me this: what if the dream come true?
What if the dream come true? and if millions unborn shall dwell
In the house that I shaped in my heart, the noble house of my thought?
It is my best hope and my highest aspiration that if I cannot birth my own in the flesh, I want to sing the praises of the Lord for those blessed children promised to the barren. May the houses that I shame in my heart be noble, a safe place for many precious souls. I pray that I've also been a help to Hillary who does likewise with her book, creating a place of hope and healing for the daughters of patriarchy.
Isaiah 54 (The Message)
Spread Out! Think Big!
1-6 "Sing, barren woman, who has never had a baby.
Fill the air with song, you who've never experienced childbirth!
You're ending up with far more children
than all those childbearing women." God says so!
"Clear lots of ground for your tents!
Make your tents large. Spread out! Think big!
Use plenty of rope,
drive the tent pegs deep.
You're going to need lots of elbow room
for your growing family.
You're going to take over whole nations;
you're going to resettle abandoned cities.
Don't be afraid—you're not going to be embarrassed.
Don't hold back—you're not going to come up short.
You'll forget all about the humiliations of your youth,
and the indignities of being a widow will fade from memory.
For your Maker is your bridegroom,
his name, God-of-the-Angel-Armies!
Your Redeemer is The Holy of Israel,
known as God of the whole earth.
You were like an abandoned wife, devastated with grief,
and God welcomed you back,
Like a woman married young
and then left," says your God.
I then went and reread the Acknowledgements section in Hillary’s book, from start to finish. For the next thirty minutes or so, I tightly clutched the book to my heart with my arms crossed over it, praying, weeping, groaning. I joined my heart with Hillary’s in a prayer for this to become reality for many, as she writes,
To my quivering daughter-sisters – you inspire me with your courage and bravery. Every day I wish I could throw my arms around you; thank you for reaching, for asking, for searching. Thank you for your faith, for seeking the narrow way that leads to life. Thank you for loving truth, even when it hurts. Thank you for living, even when it hurts. For daring to step into the unknown so that He may become known.And I also prayed again that Burleson echo:
Read it and weep. Read it and think. Read it and quiver no more.I have endured many deeply painful things in my life, and just recently, it seems like so many of them have not been for naught. I want those griefs to be transformed and exploited for good, things which God can use for good to comfort others and save many.
All I'm ready to say for now after a cover to cover read because my heart is too full....
The book is perfect, save for my contribution which has a stupid typo that is in probably the worst possible place. (Must have been asleep when I wrote that part.) Yeah, well. Keeps me humble, words that I jumble. Sigh of wounded perfectionism. Gotta go read a little Corinthians again, and chapter Ten, too. I love the book, save for my typos. A lovely child. More to come....