Thursday, September 6, 2012

Become a living letter

This morning some words came to me that bear an unfortunate resemblance to the National Rifle Association's old slogan, but the message is about life, not death:

Books don't help people. People help people.

I have that on my mind because people often ask me for advice on how they might give a friend or relative a copy of my book My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints without the recipient taking offense. These are kind and thoughtful people who want to help someone they believe has suffered sexual abuse, but they also want to protect that individual's privacy. They do not want their friend or relative to think they are aware of what he suffered, or to think that they believe he is damaged.

My response is to say don't just give My Peace I Give You to someone and expect it to minister to her in a way that you yourself cannot. Rather, first read the book yourself and learn from it. It both reveals the emotional journey of the abuse survivor and shows how the saints' lives demonstrate the way to healing in Christ. Then, after having read My Peace, give it away along with your own sympathy, understanding, and personal reflections on the love of Christ that heals all wounds. There is no need to say why you think it may be relevant to the recipient. Just say, "I got something out of this book. It helped me to better understand the saints' experiences and how they show the meaning of redemptive suffering."

I am happy that people hearing about My Peace I Give You want to recommend it to friends and family who are hurting. I realize that the person who has not suffered sexual wounds may be daunted at the thought of reading a book that is targeted readers who have experienced a kind of pain that he or she has never experienced—though in fact, as most reviewers have observed, it is really for anyone who has suffered any kind of pain. But we as Christians are not just called to evangelize through other people's writings. We are called to be ourselves living epistles of the love of Christ.