Jesus Loves Women
is a book for every man who loves a woman, every woman who has
struggled to become whole, and every person who has ever felt a failure.
Tricia and I had gotten to know each other through Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) and developed a real bond as writers. We had just finished collaborating on a book Tricia was editing about the hostage crisis when she told me she had written a memoir. As I was about to embark upon writing a memoir of my own about my experiences in Iraq while being kidnapped, I asked her if I could read it. What I learned shocked and surprised me.
Tricia was someone I looked to as an elder sister in the writing life. She was so confident and capable, a published author and an accomplished editor, a successful PhD candidate and former lecturer in theology, a woman who was offering important leadership within CPT. It made me realize, if Tricia had ended up in an abusive relationship, it could happen to any woman. Her story was a window into the story of all women.
Jesus Loves Women is a rare memoir. Some Christians may even find it surprising, for it is both a sexual and a spiritual autobiography. With unflinching candor and a poet’s sensitivity, Tricia tells the story of her fundamentalist upbringing, her first marriage at the age of eighteen, her fall into the role of a submissive house wife and the emotional abuse she endured because this is what her faith and her church seemed to require of her. She tells of her decision to leave her husband and strike out on her own with a two-year old daughter, how she wandered for years in a fog of depression and anxiety, how she struggled to regain the sense of herself that had been destroyed in her marriage. She tells the story of her continuing search for love (sometimes in the wrong places!), her passionless second marriage, her anguished decision to divorce a second time in the face of disapproving family and friends.
Above all, Jesus Loves Women is a story of grace, of how through the healing beauty of the Pacific coast and the friendship of a Trappist monk, Tricia awakens to a mystical understanding of God’s unconditional love. It is the story of how one woman finds freedom from the shame, social conventions, and religious pieties that constrict the lives of all women. It is a story she tells with generosity, compassion, and an unusual ability to glean extraordinary insight from the ordinary circumstances of our lives.
As a man, Jesus Loves Women helps me to better understand the experience of women who must come of age in a society that objectifies their bodies and diminishes their spirits. As a Christian, it nourishes my faith and calls me into deeper solidarity with the suffering of women. As a pilgrim searching to find his way through life’s inevitable disappointments and complexities, it challenges me to honestly face who I am and to live from my deepest desires. As a writer, it inspires and pleases me. Thank you, Tricia Gates Brown, for giving us Jesus Loves Women. It is a book that emboldens my heart.
—James Loney, Toronto, Ontario;
Copyright © 2011 by Cascadia Publishing House LLC