Guys. I’ve just discovered one of my favorite books of all time despite the genre and I wanted to share some valuable things I learned while reading it. Literally, I read this 500 page book in 2 days haha I couldn’t put it down!! Probably like most of you, the words Christian fiction don’t appeal to me. Romance might appeal to a few more of you, but I’ve never been drawn to those types of books either. However, Redeeming Love isn’t a New York Times bestseller or have a 4.8 star rating on Amazon out of more than 4,000 reviews for nothing!
In a Bible story, God tells a good man named Hosea to marry a prostitute, Gomer. Despite his efforts and love for her, she wants to keep her same lifestyle and doesn’t believe in God. The relationship between Hosea and Gomer symbolizes the relationship between God and Israel.
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers retells this same story in but it’s set in the 1850’s when the California gold rush is occurring. On the back cover it reads, “a time when men sold their souls for a bag of gold and women sold their bodies for a place to sleep.”
Angel, the main character, is born into an unimaginably horrible situation where her father doesn’t want her and her single mother eventually dies, leaving her uncle to sell her into prostitution as a child. She survives by closing herself off and hating the men who use her.
One day a righteous man named Michael Hosea notices her as she’s walking with a bodyguard, and God instantly tells him she’s the one he’s going to marry. Overcoming his unbelief and surprise that God would tell him to do such a thing, he uses all the gold he owns to get time with her in the brothel she works at, but he never uses her. He asks her to marry him but she doesn’t trust anyone or hope for anything. Finally, she becomes so depressed that she gets the cruel bodyguard mad enough at her to almost beat her to death. Michael Hosea feels prompted to come back despite the many refusals she had given him, and ends up saving her life and they get married.
Michael loves her unconditionally as God told him to. Because she had never experienced anything like this, she fears to be with him because life has taught her that love only abuses you or it doesn’t last and always ends up hurting you. She battles between the unconditional and no strings attached love, feelings that she’s unworthy for Michael, and returning to the only life she had ever known.
The REAL Recap:
The important theme is that love can turn broken and beaten down people into healed and better than new people. It can heal what has been broken,
Like Angel, we all don’t believe in true acceptance and love from people. We feel unworthy for unconditional love because of our faults or mistakes. We beat ourselves up and don’t believe we have worth. Our fear or anger blocks us from good things that are meant for us. Or we just plain don’t believe in such a thing as unconditional love. Too many of us have been cheated, rejected, used, or abandoned.
We begin to close ourselves off. From emotion, from people, etc.
This story shows that “Love cleanses…it doesn’t beat you down. It doesn’t cast blame” (308, Rivers).
“You said go to her, and I let pride stand in my way. You said she needed me, and I didn’t believe. You said love her, and I thought it would be easy.”
Lust vs. Love
Angel has seen plenty of lust and the damage it does and she begins to see the beauty of love.
As she was sold into prostitution…. at the age of 8, she mistakenly thought the man who had bought her loved her but realized all he did was manipulate, abuse, and use her. Used for lustful desires of all men, married or single, since she was a child, when she comes into contact with Michael, Angel doesn’t expect anything else. When he does everything he can to show her he loves her even without any physical affection, she can’t believe it. When he shows he truly loves her, with no strings attached, that is when she begins to change.
It reminds me of a quote that explains better what I’m thinking.
“[Lust] is a sin because it defiles the highest and holiest relationship God gives us in mortality—the love that a man and a woman have for each other and the desire that couple has to bring children into a family intended to be forever. Someone said once that true love must include the idea of permanence. True love endures. But lust changes as quickly as it can turn a pornographic page or glance at yet another potential object for gratification walking by, male or female. True love we are absolutely giddy about…we shout it from the housetops. But lust is characterized by shame and stealth and is almost pathologically clandestine—the later and darker the hour the better, with a double-bolted door just in case. Love makes us instinctively reach out to God and other people. Lust, on the other hand, is anything but godly and celebrates self-indulgence. Love comes with open hands and open heart; lust comes with only an open appetite.” -Jeffrey Holland
Lust is what had destroyed Angel’s childhood, mother, and ultimately herself. Unconditional love from Michael helped heal her. When she ran away and came back, he still loved her. “All the way back, she had imagined him gloating and taunting, rubbing her face in her own broken pride. Instead, he knelt before her and washed her dirty, blistered feet. Throat burning, she looked down at his dark head and struggled with the feelings rising in her. She waited for them to die away, but they wouldn’t.”
She didn’t know how to cook, clean, or do anything farmer’s wives did back then but he didn’t criticize her. “He was never angry when she made mistakes. He complimented and encouraged her. He shared his own mishaps with a sense of humor that made her less annoyed with her own incompetence. He gave her hope that she could learn, and pride when she did.”
When people look down on Angel for her past, Michael stands up for her. “If you love me as you claim to, then you love her as well. She’s part of me. Do you understand? She’s part of my flesh and my life. When you say things against her, you say them against me. When you cut her, you cut me. Do you understand?”
When marriage and feelings of unworthiness discourage and overwhelm her she begins to retreat back to her old life. He reminds her that they are married and that he will always stand with her. “He stopped and glared at her. ‘It’s a lifetime commitment in my book, lady. It’s not an arrangement you nullify when things get a little tough to bear.’”
How It Helped Me:
Michael also taught me a lot in regards to relationships because he was always thinking of how he could make Angel happy without looking for anything in return.
I was talking with a best friend of mine and her husband, and after telling him some things I was going through in regards to relationships, he remarked that you don’t worry about what the other person is doing to make you happy. You should worry about what you’re doing to make them happy. You need to make sure you can be happy without them. Your happiness is not directly dependent on their ability to make you happy (or the effort you perceive they are giving to make you happy)
His words reminded me of Michael in Redeeming Love, and let’s just say, I’m so happy this best friend of mine married that guy. And it helped me to make some very important decisions in regards to relationships that week.
Your success in marriage will be enhanced if you focus on making your spouse happy more than in hoping your spouse makes you happy. There is greater power in giving than in getting. This is counsel that comes from the wisest of all marriage counselors, “Pure love seeketh not her own.” -Lynn G. Robbins
Why YOU should read it:
Honestly, it restored my faith in quite a few things. Not to get too personal or anything, but I’ve seen 2 divorces just within my own parents. Even with friends and family, I’ve seen many who get destroyed because of “love.” This story reminded me of how good it can be.
Not to mention, this also relates to our own relationship with God. Like Hosea and Gomer, Michael could see the worth in Angel just like God sees with us. Michael’s unconditional love for Angel eventually thawed her heart so that she changed and became her best self, felt loved, and knew that she always had worth. This is like how Heavenly Father’s love for us can do the same.
It is an important reminder that you are LOVED. and that you have WORTH. No matter what! (Not to be cheesy, but honestly people make such better decisions when they know those things!)
To anyone who struggles with feeling unloved, broken, or second rate, I highly recommend this book!!!!
Have another fantastic week, guys!! 🙂 Tell me if you end up reading Redeeming Love!