Jody Hedlund’s book, The Preacher’s Bride, is a stunning example of true love. The book is set in Puritanical England in the mid 1600s and based on the life of John Bunyan, author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, and his second wife, Elizabeth.

I’m a such sucker for historical fiction. 😉

In the beginning of the book, John’s wife has passed away and he hires Elizabeth as a housekeeper for his four children. Their love for one another grows through the course of the book and through Elizabeth and John, we are reminded of three major pillars that build all lasting relationship.

Authenticity

Since John was still in mourning at the time of Elizabeth’s employment, and she was betrothed to another man, the prospect of a romantic relationship was out of the question. Therefore, since there was no expectation, their authentic selves naturally emerged with one another.

Elizabeth wasn’t afraid to voice her opinion, which sometimes went against the mores of society at that time. She didn’t have dazzling beauty like her sister but she possessed a strong character and a deep sense of justice, empathy, and morals.

John ultimately gravitated to who she was as a person. Her fire within. And Elizabeth fell in love with John as she witnessed him at work with the mission he so passionately pursued.

What really matters is what lies within. Have the courage to reveal yourself to the world and true love will find you.

Acceptance

This story is a beautiful testament to loving someone for who they are. In the beginning, Elizabeth held John in very high esteem and supported his radical work in ministry. But later, once they were married, she begged him to abandon his mission.

Now, she had good reason because his work was putting his life at risk. But in the end, Elizabeth realized that the part of John she was trying to change was the very thing that attracted her to him in the first place. And she finally saw that regardless of the consequences, she had to support who he was at the core.

We can’t expect to change anyone. In fact, the only person we should ever try to change is ourselves.

Communication

Toward the end of the story there’s a breakdown in communication between John and Elizabeth. They were suffering in silence and withholding feelings largely because of pride. They lost of lot of precious time together because of stubbornness and an unwillingness to properly communicate. But once they were humble enough to admit to their vulnerabilities and true feelings, they reconnected as a couple and realized how trivial all their worries had been.

Never let the sun go down on your anger for tomorrow is never a guarantee. Good communication is what keeps our love alive.

By the way, nothing I’ve said here will spoil the story if you haven’t read The Preacher’s Bride yet. It is historical so the story’s been out there since the 1600s and it’s really Hedlund’s execution that makes for a spell-binding read.

The way she weaves the dramatic tension between John and Elizabeth will leave you on the edge of your seat. Never have I read a love story so engaging and thoroughly fleshed out. Just be prepared to set aside a day because you won’t want to put this one down.

So what are some other pillars of a lasting relationship? If you had to list the three most important aspects of relationships, what would they be?

Photo courtesy of Klearchos Guide to the Galaxy

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