Over the past six months since we’ve been isolated by the pandemic, I’ve found solace in reading. Missing the entertainment of swing dancing at the Elk’s Lodge on Sunday nights, I’ve been drawn to fiction. It’s a refreshing escape to travel to new places of the novel settings and to explore the lives of the characters. Reading has been a great enjoyment in my life since childhood–from Nancy Drew books that I purchased through the Weekly Reader Book Club, to the excitement these days of an Amazon parcel delivered to my door.
This week I’ve been reading the novel, The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. The story tells of a young woman, actually more than one, who is drawn to an older, wealthy man when he saves her from her panic on a flight. During that white-knuckle-experience of preparing for take off, he sweeps in and rescues her from what she fears. He promises, that from that point on, he will keep her safe.
What fascinates me is all the ways that she unknowingly loses herself in exchange for the high price of safety. In their marriage, they make agreements, both explicit and understood that keep their unique union in balance. That is universal in marriage– like it is in friendships; we give up parts of ourselves to maintain the relationship and sometimes it becomes unhealthy– as is true in the novel.
In the past month, our DivorceCare support group finished our final three meetings that were put on hold in March. In one of those Zoom sessions, we talked about habits and ways of relating in our previous marriages that we need to let go of now. Reading my novel, while my marriage was different from that one, it made me think about the agreements we make when we marry–whether they are ones we’re aware of, or the unspoken agreements that maintain stability. All marriages have both types of agreements.
I thought about how quickly the woman in the novel was drawn to the security offered by the handsome, older man who was so confident. How easy it was for her to forget who she was when she was afraid in that situation; how easy it was for her to lose consciousness of the areas where she was confident.
Recently, when I talked with a friend, we discussed what we were reading. I mentioned that I mostly read at bedtime. She told me she wouldn’t be able to fall to sleep if she read before retiring. I minimized her concern, saying that it was the best time for me to fall into a book.
That night, I had vivid dreams with many ‘twist and turns’ that included the women from my novel and they had married a man from my swing dance. I woke early and slowly sorted out the dream, remembering my friend’s words and feeling unrefreshed by my sleep.
I got up and read my daily devotional in Jesus Always by Sarah Young. She writes from what she feels would be the point of view of Jesus. Her words spoke to how to deal with the need for security:
“Your times are in My hands. So trust in Me, beloved. I am training you to feel secure in the midst of change and uncertainty. It can actually be a relief to realize you are not in control of your life. When you accept this human condition while resting in My soveriegnty, you become increasingly free.” (September 12, p. 267)
The women in the novel were never free. They lived on their own strength until they gave that power to the man who promised them what they most desired: safety.
I compare the lives of the characters in the novel with my uncertainty at this time. Like most people, perhaps especially many women who are alone, I have a deep desire for safety, too. The novel is a cautionary tale of the danger of counting on another person to fill that need.
Sarah Young reminds me in her book, that God is the one I can count on to come sweeping in when I’m vulnerable. He is my Safe Anchor, the one who will deliver me from all my fears. He will keep me grounded, remembering who I am, keeping me from losing myself.
May we find our Safe Anchor in the God of All.
What about you?
What relationships in your life have led you to give up yourself in exchange for safety?
Moving forward, how can you trust God to be your Safe Anchor?