Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Becoming Mrs. Lewis * Book Club & Giveaway #3

Well, hello again ... and welcome back to our third in a series of four Book Club gatherings.  I hope you don't mind my arriving in your inbox a day early!  

If you're new around here, we've been sharing focused conversation on Patti Callahan's historical fiction bestseller, Becoming Mrs. Lewis: The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis.  Whether you've been steadily sharing your heart in the comment section ... or are quietly sitting on the sidelines soaking it all in, I'm so glad you're here.

And no, it's not too late to join us!  You can grab your Kindle edition and jump right in.  Or leave a comment even if you're not reading the book.  Absolutely.

I want to call your attention to an exceptional interview that Christianity Today did with Patti Callahan ... Joy Davidman: The Woman Who Wanted Something More.  This is must reading, especially if you've been unsettled about the intersection of Joy's 'heartbreakingly slow' faith journey and her blossoming relationship with Lewis.

Patti says, 'I approached the pages with humble reverence but also with the knowledge that they were both human and their pedestals were just as cracked as anyone’s. I didn’t want to portray the marble image but, instead, the woman and the man in their daily struggles, doubts, and fears as best I could ... 

Joy and Jack's story isn't meant to be a lesson in Christianity or a how-to book on living a good life.  If I wrote this novel to reach anyone with a message, it would feel insincere.  The story reaches our hearts because it is true and because it involves the suffering and joy that comes with intimate connection, the meaningful search for God, and the effort to make sense of what seems senseless.'

A superb piece.  A lovely melding of grace and truth.

- Christianity Today


Thanks for letting me know that you're finding the videos to be glorious and informative.  I'm happy to have stumbled onto this little series during my research for the Book Club.  I almost feel like I'm right there with you, touring Oxford on a bright spring afternoon, soaking in the old beautiful brick architecture, traipsing through the woods, glimpsing the captivating gardens.  Oh, wouldn't that be fun?

For sure, these little online jaunts have turned out to be the icing on the cake, haven't they ...

watch video on YouTube

As ever, this week's quotes below are available for you to weigh in on.  I'm especially interested in what's caught your eye and grabbed your heart in your reading.

May your words display that lovely melding of grace and truth mentioned above.  May our dialogue be even warmer and more gracious because you came by to visit.

Every person who leaves a comment {limit 2 per post!} on any of the four Book Club posts will be eligible for a $25 Amazon gift card.  {U.S. only ... and please be sure your comment links to your contact info.}  The winner will be announced a few days after our final March 14th discussion.


'Discernment fell down on me with great weight: You must know when it's enough ... and I must trust God - again and again I was learning and relearning to trust the Truth who had entered my sons' nursery.  The rusty and decrepit habit of trusting in only myself, only abiding in my own ability to make things happen, died hard and slow.'
{Joy, chapter 40, page 294}


'When love becomes a god it becomes a devil.'
{Jack, chapter 43, page 318}


'I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer.  You are yourself the answer.  Before your face questions die away.

Questions that die away.

Answers I sought.

Questions that haunt.

All my life I'd been searching outside myself for the answer to this one inquiry: do you love me?

Seeking, always seeking.  Always scrambling.  Always losing.  This I'd thought more times than I could count, this is the answer and this is the mask and this is the way.'
{Joy, chapter 44, page 323}

What are you discovering about yourself 
as you make your way through this story?  

And what are you learning about God's redemptive love?

If you've written a post on Becoming Mrs. Lewis 
or have come across some Joy resources, 
please do share those links ...

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  1. I'm glad the author did not place Jack and Joy on pedestals. Still, even with Joy's penchant for looking for love via sex at first, there's a sensual undertone throughout the book that goes too far for my tastes (even a hill is described as looking like a woman's breast.) I think the author could have dialed it back just a bit while still being faithful to Joy's journey. I think that might deter some from reading it. But I think others might find elements of their own story in hers.

    As I said last time, Joy reminds me very much of the woman at the well. Even though her growth was "heartbreakingly slow," it was steady.

    I finished the book yesterday, and my review is here: I used some of the same quotes you did! :-)

    1. Dear Readers! Head on over to Barbara's place for a thorough, thoughtful piece on Becoming Mrs. Lewis.

      She's a master of book reviews, for sure ...


      And I couldn't agree more with your first statement, Barbara. Pedestals are over-rated and often turn out to be rather flimsy, precarious places to find oneself. I'm leery of those who allow themselves to perch above the crowd ...

  2. My enjoyment of Joy's and Jack's relationship is always marred just a bit by the memory of its rocky start. It's clear from Joy's writing during that time that she was just in agony, and he had NO IDEA. Here's an excerpt from one of her anguished poems:
    “There was a man who found a naked tree
    Sleeping in winter woods, and brought her home,
    And tended her a month in charity
    Until she woke, and filled his quiet room
    With petals like a storm of sliver light,
    Bursting, blazing, blended all of pearl
    And moonshine; he, in wonder and delight,
    Patted her magic boughs and said: Good girl.
    Thereafter, still obedient to the summer,
    The tree worked at her trade, until behold
    A summer miracle of red and gold,
    Apples of the Hesperides upon her,
    Sweeter than Eden and its vanished bowers . . .
    He said: No, no, I only wanted flowers.”

    Oh, ugh! How could someone with Lewis's brilliance be so relationally obtuse?

    1. Men.

      * sigh *

      Only God knows what drives them, motivates them, compels them ...

      We'll never know what caused Lewis to guard his heart so valiantly. I'm guessing that maybe it was a combination of strong faith and deep fear.

    2. I agree Michele. I found this frustrating as I was reading because I have a romantic side that was cheering for Joy and ready to throttle Jack.

  3. I love the interview, Linda. I love that Patti "came to see her (Joy's) heart and its vulnerabilities as strength." The quote you share about trust really grabs me. I can identify with learning and relearning to trust... Love and blessings to you!

    1. Oh I'm glad you loved the interview, Trudy! I found the conversation to enlarge my understanding and appreciation of Joy's struggles and victories. She was a complex, fascinating woman ... it's no surprise that she and Lewis had such a strong 'iron sharpens iron' relationship.

      You're such an encourager around here, friend, and I'm grateful ...


  4. How sweet this book choice, my friend.

    Page 294...I think this discernment of knowing when enough is enough is one we all must grapple with repeatedly in our lives. It is something that is revelatory. It comes as we determine decisions about relationships, health concerns, jobs, retirement, and so much more. We get caught up in the "trying" or the "doubting" or the "need to try and control" or the "refusal to accept". Sometimes we face what Joy faced where we trust too much in ourselves. Other times I think we stay stuck because we do not trust ourselves nor our capacity to hear from the Lord, so we wrestle more often than we might think with choices and decisions such as this example in the book.

    page 318...what a powerful truth! We can so revere the idea or ideal of love or love for a particular person or pursuit or thing that it supersedes our love of the Lord who is (as John Eldredge says) the "wildest of lovers" and of course a very jealous on. Love can just as easily become an idol as money or status or any other thing. We can fall prey easily because we all long for it and desire it in its best and purest form, forgetting that only the Lord can provide that for any of us. It can be the death knell of a marriage when such expectations are heaped on a spouse.

    page 323...ah yes, we are tempted to look everywhere except where the only answer is found. We chase "less wild lovers" and all the rest of it. One of the things I most appreciate about the author's work is the realism about the struggles, imperfections, failings, etc. in this love story and relationship. After 25 years as a Marriage and Family Therapist working predominantly with Christians, Christian couples, and Christian leaders, I am acutely aware of how honest and real this depiction is. Too often as believers we hide the struggles and I think that is part of why the divorce rate for Christian marriages is no better than those who are unbelievers. Marriage is difficult, often messy, and I am persuaded to believe God uses it to expose our sinfulness and develop more of His character within any who step into it.

    I actually see individuals (men and sometimes women) whose hearts are locked up and protected for so many reasons that I find C.S. Lewis's response to love (given what we know about him and his history) to be predictable on every level.

    1. Well, my friend, you could take each and every one of your keen observations and do a blog post! I'd love to see you expand on your thoughts when you have the time and space to do so.

      Enriching. Hope-laden.

      You're right ... the counseling work we've done over the years certainly impacts who we are as observers and readers ... and women. I've learned more than I'll ever realize from the hundreds of clients who've been courageous enough to share their stories, walk toward healing, embrace courage, truth, and wisdom along the way.

      To heal from terrible brokenness, pain, abandonment ... and then to go on and become Wounded Healers, filled with grace, mercy, and an undeniable empathy is a wonderful gift from God, the Lover of their souls.

      I see Joy in those brave woman who've shared their stories with me along the way ... and I see them in her.


  5. The interview was good and answered the questions about the way we Christians have trouble with Joy’s many wrong yearnings. Funny, I saw the excessive drinking and smoking that Jack did to be a “poor witness and unChristlike.” Anybody else struggle with that?

    In interview, this jumped out to me:
    “When we look at Joy’s circumstances, when we pen the bullet points of her life, how could we claim that her life was better because she trusted God? Because she believed in “something more?” In many places and times, her life seems both tragic and difficult. But she knew that her life was more profound and relevant with her deep desire for a mystical knowledge of God that could govern her daily life.”

    I have had the same experience...after Christ, life was more profound and relevant BUT not trouble-free.

    I am rediscovering about myself in this story that I am not alone in my struggles. I also have seen a sense of victory in this story that I can relate to. It is a horrific thing to end a marriage but sometimes God opens a door that is very puzzling. I especially resonated with Joy’s explanation to Jack’s question of why she stayed with her husband on pg 115, Chap 15:

    “God’s will. I hope, but maybe safety. Not wanting to give up on my family. I want to do the right thing.....Sometimes it feels God’s demands are impossible, does it not?

    Oh been there....

    1. For sure, Carol. We have not been offered a trouble-free life. How disappointed we can become when we discover that prayer is not a magic wand and God is not there to make our every wish come true.

      And yet He never leaves, He remains strong and mighty and yet oh so gentle.

      Yes, Jack's use of alcohol and tobacco are not akin to my own cultural preferences as a fairly conservative evangelical woman of 'a certain age' ... but the older I get, the less these things seem to matter ... over time I've learned that we've got 'bigger fish to fry.'

      I tend to view his choices in light of the British, Anglican, academia culture of his time.

    2. True - culture always needs to be viewed objectively when someone’s life seems conflicting to our sense of rightness. Also the 1950’s was notorious for seeing people with cigarettes hanging out of the mouths anywhere. I brought that up about Jack because some reviews of this book on Amazon are hard on Joy and her choices. What Joy and Jack have offered us, in spite of their flaws, is stimulating intellectual beauty, love at its deepest and the workings of a great and merciful God.

      Bigger fish to fry sums it, friend

    3. Wow, yes, this dear Buds -->'What Joy and Jack have offered us, in spite of their flaws, is stimulating intellectual beauty, love at its deepest and the workings of a great and merciful God.'

      Amen ...


  6. “When love becomes a god it becomes a devil”

    God will not allow us to have any gods before Him. He is a jealous God who will provide our needs if we place Him on the throne of our hearts.
    Blessings !

    1. Amen, Lulu! Exodus 20:3 sums it up. Pure and simple ...

  7. I finished the book and did not want it to end. I appreciate the honest portrayal of Joy and Jack. Relationships are hard work and Patti does not mince words when writing about their struggles. I know in my own life that relationships are hard and we never figure them out completely. God is the missing piece who grows our connections in love. I’m learning so much by reading the comments of those who added their thoughts to the conversation. Thanks for opening up your home.

    1. And this right here, is so true, Mary -->'God is the missing piece who grows our connections in love.'

      Without Him, our relationships easily become desperate, demanding, and self-absorbed. When He fills our wells to overflowing, we have something to offer others that's untainted by our own neediness.

      And yes, we're all coming to the table as students, gleaning from each other's life experience and wisdom. For sure.

      I'm so glad you're part of what's happening here.


  8. 'When love becomes a god it becomes a devil.'
    {Jack, chapter 43, page 318}
    this was profound for me because I had my mother in law tell me once concerning my love for son that if you love one person that much hurt is bound to come, she was so right. Not being a Christian then, I did not understand but I get it now. I put all my hopes into an earthly man, not a divine man and there was no way the earthy man could love me enough to match what I felt was real from me. How blind I was, how much I see now.

    1. Betty, yes, I hear what you're saying. People can try to speak truth into our lives, but often we're blinded by whatever neediness has hold of our souls.

      Only Jesus can fill the aching void. We can search high and low, but no earthly being or possession or addiction can touch that space reserved only for Him.

      And in the process of our futile searching, relationships that matter most to us can be decimated.

      Your wisdom sounds hard won ... and I appreciate that you've been courageous enough to share it with us. I'm so grateful you stopped by.