that happy ending

I love a good romance novel. Feel free to judge me for this, many do. Most people give me this really awkward stare, and I can see “are you serious?” scrolling across their mind. Others smile, nod, and wonder if they should pray for me. I remember one day last summer, my dad asked me what I was reading. I replied with the very vague “a book,” hoping it sounded boring so he wouldn’t ask any more. But no, my dad picked that day to be inquisitive, and when he asked what the title was, I mumbled “Seduce Me at Sunrise.” Yeah, there really isn’t any way out of that one. I’m sure you can imagine the awkward silence than ensued…

Despite the forbidden status given to most romance novels, especially in Christian culture, I can’t seem to stay away. I’m drawn to them, perhaps a bit like tempting fruit, and I will wait patiently for months for the next book from my favorite author to come out. And then I will promptly read it in one sitting. Patience only takes me so far.

Romance novels have a good story. (Okay, some are absolutely horrid, but you can usually tell by the title. The longer the title, the worse it will be.) There is a heroine in need of saving, a hero longing to do some saving, and a wonderful happy ending full of love and passion and everything us ladies secretly (or not so secretly) long for. We live a bit vicariously through the heroines in these stories. We long for our adventure, our hero, and happily ever after. Sometimes, we abandon the possibilities of this happening in real life and fully immerse ourselves in the stories and characters and worlds the authors create for us. We believe that nothing will come close to the loveliness of our beloved stories, so we’ll just settle for them instead.

I’ve always wondered what I’ve missed, what I’ve passed by because my attention was directed to the fairytale world someone else had made up. (Don’t get me wrong, I can make up my own imaginary world as well the next person. This has its downfalls.) I wonder if my perfect man, my soul mate was invisible to me, because I couldn’t be bothered to look for or see him. Maybe he was right there, waiting for me, but I preferred the perfection, tidiness, and familiarity of the stories I read.

It is so easy to lose ourselves in the things we love. Sometimes, this can be a good thing. The idea of losing myself in God, in faith, in love sounds absolutely wonderful. I cannot wait for it to happen. But when we lose ourselves in temptation, in worldly things, in something that can give nothing back, we just end up losing our way. We follow our desires into the darkness and can’t see our way out of it. Eventually, it becomes too easy to just stay there, living in the darkness. It becomes something safe and familiar, when really it is blinding us to all the good things we could be experiencing.

I believe in happily ever after. I believe that there is one for everyone. Actually, I believe that we can experience many happy endings throughout our life as new chapters and stories unravel throughout time. Everyone is meant to experience love, joy, and happiness. It is out there in this world. God has it waiting for each and every one of us. We can read all about it in the Bible. Ecclesiastes tells us there is a time for everything. So while we do have the hard things in life, the depressing and hindering moments, there are times of pure bliss. All we have to do is reach for it.

But if we have our (or maybe just my) nose stuck in a book, we miss everything. If we think about the heroes of our novels, we miss the real men that walk into our lives. If we are constantly imagining the wonderful adventures the heroines embark on, we miss our own opportunities. We can never live out the stories in books. Nothing in real life will ever be that perfect, that well plotted (sadly), or that easy. But we can make our own story in our own life. We can be the heroine (or hero, of course) in our own happy ending.

Perhaps, then, we should put down the books and see where God can take us. He is the ultimate writer of every story. I’m not sure we could find a better author.

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