This October (and November and December) I’m taking a break. Romance and I are breaking up because she takes up too much of my time. Like a needy girlfriend she invades and consumes and clings to me too much and I’m tired of it.
I’m tired of feeling that craving in my soul for just one more chapter. It’s like an addiction and I’m a junkie. A romance junkie. After reading Annie F Downs’s Let’s All Be Brave, I realized that I had been ignoring God for a long time. Do you hear Him? That quiet whisper in your soul, leading you down a path that you know will be hard, but necessary? The Holy Spirit has been telling me to quit romance for the past two years and I’m finally listening. For me this means no binge-watching romantic shows on Netflix, no reading chick lit, and no romantic audiobooks. It means engaging in the real world. Gulp.
The audiobooks part is the biggest deal to me, I think. I listened to over 90 hours of books last month. Shocking, I know. I’m following a path that will lead me down withdrawals (in fact I’ve already started) and so I’m trying to fill the romance book gap with books that will nourish my soul. After two days of October, I just finished listening to Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist. It’s the only one of her books I haven’t read because I’ve never felt like I’m in a place where I could relate. But there are so many moments that I felt like she was, once again, peering into my soul. And there were many more that I heard and wanted to call up my little sister, Marissa, and yell “READ THIS BOOK NOW.”
When you’re in the midst of transition and you deny yourself one comfort, the one you like best, you have to turn to another. It is my dearest wish to turn to Christ and I already feel closer to Him than before. I spent last night praying and talking to my mother until 4AM. It’s strange how giving something up leads to Jesus. He’s living water, rushing to fill the gap, now that I’m draining the sewage of romance.
Okay, not that romance is sewage necessarily. But it’s become an idol in my life and, like all idols, needs to be cleaned out. If you read romance, please don’t hate me. I’ve had a lot of people look at me and say, “Why are you doing this?” It’s given me the opportunity to talk about Jesus and my spiritual health. Usually I hem and haw my way around it. However, God is making me bolder day by day. Today was the first time that I gave the whole truthful answer: “It’s not healthy for me and my relationship with God. And that has to be more important than the sweet tooth craving romance satisfies in me.”
So, here’s to romance-less months ahead and the hope that I carry in me that it will lead me to find what true love is and how I can show it to my world here in Shanghai. Here’s to finding love in Christ, and knowing that it satisfies everything, even when I don’t feel it. Here’s to withdrawal symptoms and crying (because I know it’s coming) because I can’t read about Eve Dallas and Roarke and their latest adventure, or Susan Mallery’s next book in the Fool’s Gold series, or Winter by Marissa Meyer, or any of my other cotton candy books. Or my dark chocolate books because Austen and Bronte wrote romances too and so my familiar classics are out for the duration. Here’s to living here and now and not numbing myself with romantic escapes. Here’s to pouring everything I have into a life lived in the real world with the real God and to the joy I can find in it, even amidst my heartbreak.