There is a fire that threatens to consume me. It's kindled by romance, stoked by story, and it burns deep within this idealistic heart of mine. If I had attended an addiction recovery meeting in the spring of 2009, my intro would've gone something like this: Hello, I'm Beth. I'm twenty-eight years old. And although I've been happily married for almost eleven years, I'm obsessed with Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series.
Let Me Fall is a personal, creative allegory about a woman falling in love...with God. I appreciated Beth Pensinger's honesty. Throughout the book--when she's not crafting an allegory--she is sharing very personal details about her life past and present. Included among the details is the author's tale about how she became addicted to romance novels. She writes,
"I didn't have to memorize the page numbers of the enthralling exhibitions because the bindings of each book were well-worn in those locales...The funny thing is, I would completely justify my dirty reading... at least I wasn't running around having sex. No, I was not. But I had become addicted to reading about it. I could argue that my addiction was not a horribly bad thing. I mean I wasn't hurting anyone, other than myself. I wasn't even hurting myself physically. But reading those scenes was like consuming an exquisite dessert and then discovering a weird aftertaste. Naturally, I had to keep eating more and more in order to cleanse my palate of the byproduct--introducing new and exotic flavors one after another. If someone examined me, they would never have imagined the vivid scenes occupying my thoughts." (22-3)Her addiction started young. The author was a Christian who attended church regularly. The author shares about keeping a prayer journal, revealing her pleading prayers that she wanted to love God more. At no time would she have denied a belief in God. But sin's hold on her was strong. The truth is SIN HAS A STRONG HOLD ON EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US. Pensinger is brave enough to share her story with others. I'm not sure Christians are always willing to address the issue, to admit that Christians can definitely struggle with pornographic addictions--men AND women. I think there is some reluctance to admit that romance novels are addictive and dangerous...for the Christian reader at least. (Soap operas could easily be included as well. Though the author does not mention them.)
My favorite part of Let Me Fall was Pensinger's account of one of her "aha" moments. It is an allegory, so she has God speaking to her directly--in quotes.
"Whoa, easy there," said the form standing over me. "You're in rough shape."I think Pensinger's point is an excellent one. The problem isn't having desires, of wanting pleasure, of wanting to be happy or satisfied. OUR problem is that our desires are not focused on the ONLY one who can ultimately fulfill those needs and desires. (John Piper writes of this in Desiring God.)
He was right. I leaned back against the cabinet doors and took a shaky breath. My chest felt like someone had taken a sledgehammer to it.
"Who--who are you and what happened?" I asked.
"You did ask for My help," He said, and I gasped with recognition.
"Despair did a number on you." .... "You spiritually flat-lined."
I wouldn't have if You'd come sooner, I thought, but there was no way I was going to voice that to Him. Even though I was pretty sure He knew I'd thought it. So instead I mumbled, "What the heck is wrong with me?"
"You're not in love with Me."
"You heard right. The crux of your problem is the fact that you're not in love with Me."
I had the audacity to get angry. "Forgive me, but how is it possible to fall in love with someone I usually can't see, hear, or touch in the flesh?"
He raised an eyebrow and gave a half-smile. "You didn't seem to have a problem doing exactly that with a fictional vampire."
My lips pursed. "Well played," I muttered. (31-2)
I don't read many allegories, they can be a bit tricky. But I did enjoy this one. I thought it creatively addresses some of the difficulties of the Christian life. But it would have also been nice to have practical real advice as well. What steps did she take in real life?
I appreciated Let Me Fall. I appreciated the author's honesty and humility. She shares a personal story in a very creative way. I think it's a very relevant book as well.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible