Guest post by Sharon A. Hersh, author of Begin Again, Believe Again.
What is the first thing you thought about this morning? Prayed about last night? Worried about throughout the day? I imagine if we could have a face-to-face conversation about what you think about, dream for, persistently pray about, risk for over and over again, discuss with your friends, are willing to look like a fool for, and continually hope for more in, we would see your heart for relationships.
In my new book Begin Again, Believe Again we will look at our hearts for relationships. God created us to long for purposeful, passionate, mutual relationships. I will tell you a bit about my own heart – broken and battered at times – because I know that we all have stories of heartache when relationships falter. We all have conflicts we don’t know how to resolve. We all have children who go a different direction at times than we originally dreamed of for them. We all have friends who promise to be there for us and then forget to invite us to their birthday parties. We all get lonely. And we are all tempted to give up.
Beginning again requires the humility to acknowledge that we don’t know what we really want, but God (the Beginning and Ending of every story) remains steadfast in His commitment to use our longing for relationships to bring us to what we most deeply want – Him.
Beginning again means we surrender to the story – a story that often takes two steps forward and three steps back – knowing that in this begin again, believe again story we find Jesus. We encounter the One who is grace, mercy, compassion, truth, hope, and love. We rest in the One who is the plot – the meaning of our stories.
Beginning again requires that we believe that if we had all the wisdom and power of God and could truly see the scope of our lives, we would choose exactly the path that we’ve been on – because the end of that path is Jesus.
St. Frances de Sales wrote, “There is no better way to attain the spiritual life than by beginning again.” Beginning again can seem overwhelming when our dreams have been shattered, our plans thwarted, and our hearts broken. Beginning again often starts with something simple...
- I tell my parents, my children, and my friends what I love about them.
- I call a friend that I haven’t talked to for weeks, confronting my own shame at allowing the friendship to lapse, and discover that she’s been feeling the same way!
- I say, “Thank you,” for all the gifts in my life.
- I listen with expectant hope to love songs on the radio.
- I re-start the journal I began last fall with a commitment to record evidence of God’s care for me every day.
One of my favorite artists, Brian Andreas, wrote, “Anyone can slay dragons, but waking up every morning and loving the world all over again ... That’s what takes a real hero!” In this book we will look at the stories of women who have had the courage to begin again and believe again even though their relationships have brought failure, brokenness, fractured families, addiction, abuse, judgment, and shattered dreams. These stories remind us that faith, purpose, strong values, and fierce convictions do not slay the dragons of danger and destruction in our relational worlds. In fact, God did not design us with a heart for relationships so that we could slay dragons at all. He gave us a heart for relationships because waking up every morning and beginning again, believing again, forgiving again, risking again, and dwelling in the possibilities again – that takes a real hero. A braverheart.
Begin Again, Believe Again is not a self-help book about how to make relationships work. This is a book about brave hearts who begin again with a new story, a story that is deeper than our longing for human relationships, a story that unfolds in the midst of our daily and difficult relationships, a story that is redeemed as we surrender our hearts that long for relationships to the One who longs for us most. We will look at beginning again in daily and difficult relationships, because both are an opportunity for transformation. We will explore how all of the painful, wonderful, difficult, and disappointing realities in relationships can redeem our desires so that we can live with deeper faith, wilder hope, and more extravagant love than we ever dreamed possible.
This is a book about believing again the good, good news that God’s most precious gift to women – the very ability to love as a woman, to take a chance again and again on love – is most beautiful when we surrender our hard relationships, our challenging relationships, and especially our unbearable relationships to the bravest heart, the One who when He sees us cries in delight, “Bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh!”; the One who is bound to us from the foundation of the world in an eternal covenant; the One who hung, stripped and naked, on the cross for the sake of a relationship with us.
Do you see what this means? We can believe that every song of longing, every romance novel of longing, every braveheart’s story of longing is about Him. The longing we feel – the craving we feel to be joined to another, to rest with another, to be chosen by another, to be in communion with another – it’s all about Him. This desire, longing, and passion is woven into the depths of our beings so that we can know, heart and soul, the love God has for us in Christ Jesus. He is our helper, our advocate, our lover, our companion, and our groom.
And the news that is oh-too-good to be true is that He longs too. He longs to come to us with healing, strength, love, and tender compassion. He longs to fill our empty craving with a relationship with Himself.
Our human relationships are all a chance to surrender our brave hearts to Jesus, the bravest heart, and in so doing, we become braverhearts.
So when those dragons of danger and destruction come, begin again and believe again, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18 NIV).
Learn more about Begin Again, Believe Again
About Sharon A. Hersh