Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Beautiful Ache - Leigh McLeroy

What is the beautiful ache? In her book, Leigh McLeroy defines it as “that fleeting pang that reminds us of home. Not the home we’ve always known—the home we’ve never seen. The ache pierces and pries open the heart but doesn’t nearly satisfy it. It whets the appetite but doesn’t begin to fill it.”

She elaborates on common desires and their corresponding hardships by weaving together personal stories and Biblical narratives. Each chapter highlights a specific area. The need for belonging, the difficulty of trusting, the hardship of labor, and the pain of grief are just a few of the topics covered.

These insightful and devotion-like thoughts challenge, find humor and move to tears. Her mature and balanced perspective is especially evident in “The Ache for Healing.” She uses a John Piper quote to make her point: “It is fitting that a child ask his father for relief in trouble. And it is fitting that a loving father give His child only what is best. And that he always does: sometimes healing now, sometimes not. But always, always, what is best for us.”

Though this is not a book directed towards single people, I appreciated her perspective, as a single person, in the area of relationships. It’s heartbreaking to see, from a woman’s point of view, the unfulfilled desire for lifelong companionship. In the “Ache of Expecting” she reflects on the advice given by a friend. “It is no small gift to find another who is like you and whose presence is so comforting and right that even the most ordinary moments are enriched by it. Better still is when that one whose presence is life-giving to you comes and means to stay. Emmanuel. God like us. God with us. Forever.”

McLeroy recognizes that longing can enrich our lives. “This is the now and the not yet. Because here we taste only a little of the treasure that is ours. Because it’s the very longing that makes the eventual receiving truly sweet.” Though waiting can be hard, this book finds beauty in it as it points to better things, those that are eternal.
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