Thursday, July 22, 2010

Brilliant Disguises

This for me is grace:

 All week I've been planning on going into work today. Last night I laid out clothes, Mia clothes, and everything I would need for a day of swimming lessons, work, errands, and supper at Mom's. Instead I woke up this morning at 7:30 in excruciating pain. It was raining lightly outside, and the dampness had settled into my joints over night. I lay in bed, unable to fall back to sleep because of the pain. I took my first pain pill of the day and prayed for relief when it kicked in. I had so much to do. I drifted in and out of sleep for a few hours, when awake I was praying to God to get me through the day and trying not to moan aloud from the pain. When asleep, I dreamed of being in pain.

I finally dragged myself out of bed at ten. Mia's swimming lessons began at 11, and while I can miss work, I didn't want her to miss a day of classes, and I knew how much she was looking forward to it. She'd been wearing her swim suit since she got up at 8. I limped to the bathroom and then went back to my room to get dressed. Molly, who didn't start work until 11:30, knocked on my door and asked if I could French braid her hair. It seems like such a small request, but you have to understand, Molly's been at her dad's for the last six weeks (as part of our custody agreement). I haven't seen her much, and I've missed her terribly. Plus, Molly doesn't ask for much. This request on her part was more than just asking me to braid her hair, at least to me. It was an opportunity for me be her mom, something I don't get the chance to do much anymore now that she's seventeen. It broke my heart to say no. She turned quickly away and went into the bathroom to do her own hair. I shut the door and cried.

I was angry and frustrated. I hate letting people down. I couldn't braid Molly's hair. I couldn't make it to work. I had to call Mom to tell her I couldn't come over for supper. All of these couldn't were stealing any control I had over my life as well as my peace of mind. I dried my eyes and got dressed.

Then I called Mia into my room to explain to her that we wouldn't be going to my work (when I go in, she sits quietly and plays her DSi) because of my hurting. She said, "Mommy, if you're hurting this much, you shouldn't have to take me into swimming lessons today. I don't mind missing one today. We'll stay home, and I'll help take care of you. Just call me if you need something." I told her that I could take her, but she insisted on allowing me rest.

That for me is the definition of grace. My body may be still hurting, but my heart was healed by my daughter's generous act of compassion.

Brilliant Disguises by William Thornton is the rare self-published book that is truly worth a read. Two weeks after the tragic death of his brother, Cameron Leon applies for a job at a company owned by Benjamin Forster, a well-known philanthropist who does folksy radio spots about the values. The man interviewing him, Prescott, asks him questions that Cam doesn't quite know how to answer, and the interview ends with Prescott implying that to get the job, Cam has to get some religion. Desperate for the job, Cam attends Forster's church that Sunday and goes up for the altar call. Almost before he can catch his breath, his job has him serving people all over the city in some unusual ways and acquiring a position of authority in the church. Years pass, and Cam does everything he believes is expected to keep his job (including finding a wife), but he still hasn't found any reason for faith. He's not the man everyone believes him to be and indeed has no idea of who he is at all. Thornton has created a fascinating look at the way we place expectations on people when they attend church and how we often never really see them at all. Cam is remarkable well read, and the book is filled with references to philosophy and history as he examines the human condition. Thornton makes some brilliant observations about the masks we wear every day to hide ourselves from the world, but there is also a deeper message of what true faith looks like. It's the kind of book you want to discuss with a friend, because it inspires the reader to consider the various themes of goodness, faith, facades, love, and death. Thornton has much to offer the Christian fiction genre, and I hope that a publishing company picks him up soon.

Thank you to the author for providing me with a copy of this book for review.