Romance Novels, Old Hymns and Waiting for Redemption Alike

I read my first romance novel this past week. Let me clarify: it wasn’t actually the first if you count me accidentally reading Fifty Shades of Gray, because I’d seen it on the New York Times Bestseller list, and book one of the Outlander series, because a friend had said the Showtime version was nothing short of delightful.

“De-light-ful,” she’d said slowly, emphasizing each syllable as a warm smile spread across her face – and did her cheeks flame red as she said the word as well? 

Delightful is definitely one word for it.

But this time, I’d done my homework. I’d known what I was getting into, and as per the recommendation of one voracious reader of a friend, I’d decided to give Truth or Beard a try. Now, I don’t know if I’ll continue reading this romance series, just as I can’t say with certainty whether I’ll continue as an avid reader of the genre.

But I can say I’ll continue to be a fan of redemption.

There ran throughout the book an undeniable thread of rescue: the modern-day version of the damsel in distress tied to the railroad tracks, saved just in the nick of time by the hero of said story. While my inner feminist seethed at the all-too-common theme of a helpless female being rescued by the strong male savior, I also felt myself relaxing into this grand idea of deliverance.

At one point, I closed my Kindle shut. I shut my eyes, dreaming not of muscle-bound redheaded young men (as the aforementioned damsel finds herself dreaming of, in godforsaken page after page of the book). And by the twinkly lights of the Christmas tree, I hummed a hymn of my youth:

Deliver us, O Lord of Truth,

From speech unbacked by deed,

From lives that by their faithlessness,

Deny our spoken creed.

What does it mean to lean into Truth personified in this season of Advent and Epiphany? What does it mean to be changed by the One who helplessly entered a dirty, derelict barn (or so Western Christianity makes us believe), who from the beginning would change the world like no one before or after him? And what does it mean to lean into a time of waiting – waiting for hope, waiting to be changed in word and deed, waiting for deliverance from all that threatens us?

Because, here’s the thing: I hate the waiting. I hate the not knowing. I hate the liminal, in-between space of knowing that Good will come and Truth will arrive and Life will abound, even though afterwards I look back with pointed fingers, shaking my head, whispering, “God, you snarky little bugger, you. You knew what you were doing all along, now didn’t you?”

And I suppose that’s what right now is, at least in my life: it’s the waiting for pointed fingers, waiting for the shake of the head, waiting for the declaration heavenward to the one who’s been with me – and with us – all along.

So, I lie in wait right now.

My family and I, as some of you know, just moved from Oakland, California to Seattle, Washington. Day by day, we wait: we wait for invitations from new friends, so that we don’t always feel like we’re the ones extending ourselves in friendship, and we wait to see what will be revealed when another box is unpacked. We wait for to be seen and called by name in the grocery store, and we wait to not have to pull out the GPS every time we hop in the car, unsure of where we’re going.

We wait to be known, and we wait to be understood, to not have to explain whom we are or where we’ve come from.

We wait for God to hear our cries, for him to answer the prayers of my four-year-old son, when he clasps his hands together at the end of the night, and says, “God, give me some friends, please!”

We wait for deliverance to arrive, to surprise us with joy, to envelop our hearts with a redemption only heaven above can provide.

We wait to be delivered.

And so I ask: is it the same for you, romance novels and old hymns and waiting for redemption alike? 

Cara Meredith

Writer at Be Mama Be
Cara Meredith is a writer and speaker from Seattle, Washington. She is passionate about issues of racial and social justice, and also can’t get enough of dinners around the table with those she loves. Her first book, a memoir about her journey into issues of race, releases in January 2019 (Zondervan).

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  • Goosebumps as I read the words of that old hymn.
    Here’s something in the same vein from Amy Carmichael that came to mind as well:
    From subtle love of softening things,
    From easy choice’s weakenings,
    From fearing when I should aspire,
    From faltering when I should climb higher
    From all that dims Thy Calvary,
    O, Lamb of God deliver me.

    If only my own prayers for deliverance were fiery and bold like these.

    • carameredith.com

      Oh Michele, as per the usual, I sure love what you add to the conversation. 🙂 Merry Christmas!

  • lilyglen

    Oh my goodness, I am so glad I read this TODAY. Exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you for writing and sharing these words.

    • carameredith.com

      Aw shucks. Thank you. 🙂

  • Bev Murrill

    Can’t say I’m a fan of romance novels either, although I will say I was forced to read Redeeming Love by a friend, and found it incredibly moving… but yes, I think that we long for love, so much that we think it can be found in someone else. To some degree it is, but no husband, wife, child, friend, dog or whatever, can make up for our longing to know the love of God.

    • carameredith.com

      Yes. Always speaking all that truth, Bev. I SO appreciate you, my friend. 🙂

  • I once read a mystery novel all the way through, really enjoying it, though I wondered why they had so many descriptions of how the man was breathing and what color his eyes were. And then I noticed it was published by Harlequin. LOL. Not my favorite genre, either. And I think one of the reasons is because the redemption is so cheap–that one normal -person- can save us. (Although, in mystery novels, there’s the same kind of cheap-ish redemption–the solution to a puzzle/crime. So maybe I shouldn’t judge 🙂 ). It’s such a HUGE desire, though, and I think we should recognize our hunger for it. It’s one reason why I really like Don Miller’s book (Million Miles…) about living your life as a good story. We NEED these narratives, and not just cheap imitations.