Today I saw a tweet from Post Secret about The Books They Gave Me Blog which is a place to tell stories about meaningful gifts that were books. It made me think about the books I've received as gifts and if they've had any meaning to me. I was reminded of one book in particular that had a big impact on my life and thought it would be a good opportunity to share a story about John Paul and I's origins (something I almost never do on this blog for a variety of reasons).
A couple of years before I met John Paul, I was celebrating Christmas with my significant other at the time and his family. One of the gifts I received that year was from his step sister. I opened it to find the book Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot. At the time my feelings about the gift could be described as indifferent. I knew who Elisabeth Elliot was but the last thing I was interested in reading was another "purity" book. Thanks for the thought...and onto my bookshelf it went. I just wasn't interested in it. And there is sat for a two or three years.
Fast forward a couple of years. John Paul and I had decided that we weren't going to have any contact with each other...indefinitely...for respectable reasons I won't go into. It was the right thing to do, but it was also pretty painful and not at all what I wanted. We weren't dating or anything at this point, but I was definitely in the early stages of falling for him and it left me feeling frustrated, angry, discouraged and a million other mixed feelings I was trying to sort through. But he wasn't mine, and if it wasn't meant to be that was for God to decide and me to deal with.
For whatever reason, during this time I picked up and started reading Passion and Purity. I honestly can't remember why. It was just there. The book was nothing like I had expected. It was less about sexual purity as it was about total surrender of my will to Gods. I read the pages and felt like I was reading my own life. I identified with her story and felt convicted by her words. I scribbled notes into the margins and I prayed God would help me give up my own notions about my life and trust His will.
(Interestingly enough, John Paul was reading this book at exactly the same time as I was (we had no idea at the time) and having a similar experience. Later, after we started dating, we exchanged books and read each others notes from that time).
Obviously things worked out between John Paul and I, but, even if they hadn't...I am thankful for the things that book taught me and the kick in the pants it gave me when I started feeling sorry for myself or blaming other people. No book has impacted me more. It was so timely. It was given to me before I needed it, but I am so thankful to the person who gave it to me.
This experience made me want to give people gifts full of meaning. Things that could have an impact on them even if not right away. Like a book.
(A picture from when we first started dating)