Friday, July 15, 2016

Carlene Havel and Love Keeps No Wrongs

St. Paul took a whole chapter in I Corinthians listing various hallmarks of love. Rather than attempt a pat definition, he revealed some of love’s many facets, turning it over and over as one might a brilliant, perfectly-cut diamond.

Since love is such a broad topic, let’s zero in on one aspect—romantic love. When a special person makes the heart beat faster, regardless of the season of life, we begin to question our emotions. Am I in love? How will I know when it happens? How can I be sure when it is the real thing? Living a few years teaches us romantic love is accompanied with tender feelings, but that “gushy” feeling alone is not enough to stand the test of time. Love is more. Real romance involves two people who care enough for each to put the other ahead of themselves. In a “me first” instant gratification world, that kind of commitment is rare. Yet it is the kind of giving, sharing love we hunger for at our very core.

Do I love him? Does he love me? A simple test would be to consider each of the characteristics of love from I Corinthians. Are we kind to each other? Are we patient with each other? And so on.   Many heartbreaks could be avoided by thinking through that Biblical checklist, and turning away from a relationship with too many “no” answers. Another person’s love is not directly measurable.  We can’t take out a yardstick and see how it stacks up. Instead, we observe love by its impact. Oscar Hammerstein II is credited with this little rhyme that captures a singular way of looking at love:   

A bell is not a bell till you ring it.
A song is not a song till you sing it.
Love in your heart isn’t put there to stay.
Love isn’t love till you give it away.”

Prism Book Group’s “Love Is…” series takes its inspiration from I Corinthians chapter 13.  Eventually there will be a short novel that takes its theme from one of the aspects of true love. My contribution to this series is Evidence Not Seen inspired by “Love keeps no record of wrongs.” Or, if you prefer the lyrical language of the old King James translation, “thinketh no evil.” I hope those who read my story find it to be true to that sentiment.  

In the final analysis, we are left with faith, hope, and love. What a marvelous trilogy! And the greatest, of course, is love. May we all practice it faithfully, daily, unrelentingly. Love never fails.
Check out Carlene’s contribution to Prism Book Group’s new Love Is series…

Evidence Not Seen
“Love keeps no record of wrongs…” 1 Corinthians: 13:5

Although attorney Jeff Galloway’s career is in high gear, his personal life is a mess. Just before his father returns home from a 27-year stretch in prison, his girlfriend dumps him. When a chance encounter begins to blossom into new romance, soft-hearted Melanie Clark encourages Jeff to find a way to forgive his father’s long absence.

My review:
A not-so-secret family secret leads to the lifetime estrangement of a young man from his father. Devotion to his mother justifies Jeff’s choice to keep utter disillusionment and resentment for his imprisoned dad shining bright all his adult life. Given his professional career as an attorney, Jeff has faith in the system, and there was never any hint to believe any other way than his father is a criminal, guilty of a hefty bank theft. The money was never found. When his father’s sentence is up, Jeff reluctantly collects him from jail and brings him back home where he witnesses a strangely joyful reunion between his parents. No condemnation, no shame, just joy.

Jeff’s position allows for financial comfort, and when he meets a young social worker set out to right the wrongs of society, he’s intrigued. The first chance encounter through a private office party turns into more encounters and a rescue operation for an errand of mercy and a strange connection with one of Melanie’s young clients. Jeff enjoys Melanie’s tactics to do the best she can and even attempts to overcome his lifelong unreasonable hatred of hospitals. As the two begin to spend more time together, Jeff realizes everything in his life has been an illusion. Not only is Jeff encouraged to forgive the past, he’s encouraged to look at his father from a different angle and in so doing, he is able to find and live with newfound purpose.

I loved this couple, their growing respect for each other, Jeff’s developing character and his ability to hurdle the barriers he’s set up for himself. Sometimes we have to explore why we believe what we do, not just our faith in God, but our faith in each other, even when misguided. Not everything is what it seems, and Jeff is able to journey toward a more healthy place with Melanie’s unconditional love. Told mostly through Jeff’s viewpoint with an occasional dip into his mother’s perspective, this addition to the Love Is novellas explores the theme of “keeping no record of wrongs” in a fresh and compelling way. Great short read that felt well-paced and complete.

Enjoy this short excerpt:

.     “Melanie!” The urge to sweep her into his arms was so strong he didn’t trust himself to move. “I brought you flowers,” he said at last. He half expected a smart alack response.
Instead, her brilliant smile made his knees feel weak. This can’t be happening, he thought. Is this what it feels like to fall in love?