If you’re struggling with betrayal, abuse, or the loss of your spouse for any reason, you may be dreading the holidays rather than looking forward to them. Thanksgiving is just past, but we’re facing a month of holiday cheer that will be choked with tears for many lonely and hurting people, and if your heart is broken right now, I’d like to recommend He Left God Stayed. Annalee’s book records her journey from the devastation of being abandoned after twenty years of marriage to finding her way through the pain to wholeness . . . over the course of nearly twenty years, learning to lean on the everlasting arms of her Lord and God.
At first I read the book on the recommendation of a girlfriend who’s had a similar experience on the theory that it might be inspirational for any of my readers who are living through heartbreak, but I quickly realized this book is full of rich insights for all of us. Each chapter begins with some of her story but ends with “insights to grow by” and a prayer. I am not a fiction reader, but Annalee’s book became as fascinating to me as the page-turner mysteries that so engage my husband!
By the time I finished, I had been challenged in many areas personally, especially in reflecting on my own life, learning more about forgiveness, growing in submission to God, and desiring to be more compassionate as a Church toward those who’ve been abandoned. I’m not charismatic, but I appreciated reading about Annalee’s experiences. Her faith is sincere and her walk with God in many ways very like my own. Besides all that, I’ve ended up with three new books to read, based on insights she’s gleaned from them. It reminds me of the good ole days of grad school when every worthwhile research paper needed to end up providing new leads for further study!
To bless you with some bits of wisdom from her book, and possibly to whet your appetite for more, let me share a few favorite quotes:
“He [God] wanted to heal me and replace the anger with forgiveness, the fear with peace, and the shame with joy.”
“I needed to mature and respond, rather than react, to life’s circumstances. Learning to walk the road to wholeness was scary—it felt so unfamiliar.”
“The Holy Spirit wants to reveal the hidden things in our lives that keep us from being free to love and serve God with our whole being.”
“Praise is more spontaneous when things go right; but it is more precious when things go wrong” (—Author unknown).
“Praise was an important key to finding the life I’d longed for—a life free of fear, anger and shame.”
“When we are broken, we have to make a choice. Our way, or God’s way. We can turn our back on Him, or surrender everything to Him.”
“Brokenness is not the opposite of wholeness; it is the continuing precondition for it” (—Roberta Hestenes, quoted on p. 89).
“Forgiveness is not an option for a follower of Jesus Christ. If we fail to forgive, it affects our relationship with God and interferes with our spiritual growth . . . Forgiveness is for us. It’s to help us move forward and choose to live instead of staying stuck in the past with all of its pain.”
“Don’t be afraid of the future. God is already there” (—Bill Gothard).
“If you do God’s work, God’s way, God will provide” (—James Hudson Taylor).
“You have as much right to believe what you believe, as others have to believe what they believe” (Annalee’s mother).
“It’s everybody’s business if you sin. When you’re tempted to sin, ask yourself what it will cost you. . . It is your family’s business if you sin . . . It’s the church’s business . . . it’s the world’s business” (—Dr. Crabtree, speaking at Annalee’s ordination). He also said, “Allow God to interrupt your agenda with glorious surprises.”
From one of her prayers: “Help us to forgive those who have done evil acts against us and forgive those who weren’t able to protect us. Reveal to us those whom we need to forgive. We release anything from our past that would delay the bright future You have planned for us. Please give us the grace to walk in your ways and the courage to move forward in life.”
“My life was fuller than it would have been without the suffering . . . I had become what God intended for me to become. Instead of merely surviving, I had thrived. And so can you.”
“For your Maker is your Husband—the Lord Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth” (—Isaiah 54:5).
P.S. —He Left God Stayed is available on Amazon, but Annalee will send it to you at a discount if you contact here personally between now and December 8 at: email@example.com