I hate to begin blog posts with apologies, but I feel I must offer mine for the tardiness of this review. I spent the day after-Christmas shopping with my mom and sister. I don’t see my family very often since they almost all still live in Maryland, so I try to make myself available to them as much as I can when we’re together. It seems appropriate for a season like the Christmas season, when we celebrate the birth of Jesus into his human family and the Holy Family as a group (this year, on Dec. 30). Being around family and friends makes me acutely aware of my in-between state in life, though. I’m not married or even dating anyone, and my youngest sibling is 15, so it’s extra awkward when my mom gets excited by evidence of Santa’s arrival on Christmas morning. She’ll have a great time when grandchildren come, but I don’t know when that will be.
If you’re anything like me, a Catholic 20-something struggling to navigate the gap between your childhood family and the family you may one day build, you can appreciate the lonely, out-of-place feeling that often surfaces this time of year. As Catholics, we are called to practice chastity, grow in holiness, and seek godly spouses, but the specifics can be difficult to understand. How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul: 21 Secrets for Women is the latest offering from Jason and Crystalina Evert, noted chastity speakers associated with Catholic Answers. Jason’s first book, If You Really Loved Me, changed my life when I read it in college. I’ve reread it since then, but that book is aimed toward a younger audience. Thankfully, as Jason has grown in age and wisdom with his wife (whom he met because they were both chastity advocates!) and four young children, his writing has grown as well. He is now reaching out toward people like me, those who know that there must be something better than the hook-up culture. There is, and this book begins to unpack the alternative.
Jason and Crystalina acknowledge that everyone is looking for love, but women in particular have gotten a raw deal over the last few decades. The sexual revolution made bold promises, and it failed to keep them. The result is a world where women physically hurt themselves in search of a “perfection” that doesn’t exist or in search of healing after they bought into society’s lies. Women won’t put in the effort to find good men, have standards, and become the women that good men want because that often means being alone. Even after women have broken away from destructive relationships, they don’t know what to do next or fear they can never change. The authors say otherwise with grace, the truth of God, and a healthy dose of reality.
The Everts’ style is distinctly 21st-century. For the reader in search of easily accessible advice, the chapters are broken up with headings and lists. There is no mollycoddling with titles such as “Grow a Backbone,” “Remember the Meaning of a Kiss,” “Don’t Play House,” and “Testify.” Each author offers true stories from their unchaste pasts and real letters and conversations from students and young adults who have opened their hearts to them over the years. They reach out to people at every stage of the chaste conversion: those who are stuck in dead-end relationship cycles, those who are just beginning to see the truth, and those who have long since tossed aside old destructive ways. All they ask for is faith (which God gives us as a virtue) and trust (which comes more easily when you remember that God will never let you down). They write:
Imagine shopping in an unfamiliar mall and walking up to the directory. When you look at the map, it doesn’t say where you are, or show the names of any stores. Your shopping experience would be frustrating as you wandered aimlessly through the mall. Or maybe this would be heaven for you, I don’t know. The point is this: We don’t have to wander through life wondering if it has any meaning. God has a specific plan for why He created you. Your existence is not an accident, and your future is in good hands—if you’re willing to trust Him with it.
If you are (or know) a woman who seeks more in the search for love than what the world has to offer, then this book is for you. Take some time with it; use the free study guide to reflect; share your thoughts with a friend. God’s love is perfect, and his timing is perfect. He wants you to have the amazing love story you desire, but you have to trust him to be able to find it.
I’ve had a great time so far writing book reviews for the ACNM family. Are there any books you would like to see me review in 2012? Leave your suggestions in the comments box below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.