Influences

This month we are talking about the books and/or authors who have impacted us. I learned to read at four and have read so many books in the past half century, there’s no way to pinpoint all the influential books and authors. Most have merged into a living collage of memories in which specific details may bubble into the forefront at times, but which usually remains a backdrop for my thoughts and personality. There are a few books, though, that have radically changed my perspective in some way, changing the course of my life for the better.

Thirty years ago or more, I decided to believe the Bible.  In the years since, I’ve read every word multiple times, studied some sections so intently I have them memorized and put into practice much of what I’ve learned. It is safe to say the Bible has influenced me more than any other book I’ve ever read and, while the change was slow, it did radically change my life. For the better.

Three years ago I read a book that did the same thing, only more dramatically. When I read “Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men” by Lundy Bancroft, I was bludgeoned with an awareness that what I’d perceived as true was in fact horribly wrong. His detailed descriptions of manipulative, controlling and abusive behaviors shined a spotlight on my marriage. Like puzzle pieces suddenly falling into place, my memories coalesced into a picture that made a horrible kind of sense of the decades of confusion, misunderstandings, doubt and manipulation. 

Lundy Bancroft’s book revealed the truth about the manipulative and dysfunctional patterns present in my marriage, but it was Leslie Vernick’s books that launched the healing process. Leslie Vernick, a Christian counselor, vividly, compassionately and accurately wrote about the damage destructive actions cause and how to respond in ways consistent with the Biblical principles on which I’d built my life. In “The Emotionally Destructive Relationship” I found ways to verbalize my perceptions and objections. In “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage” and “How to Live Right When Your Life Goes Wrong,” I found helpful tools and suggestions to build health and life into my relationships.

Uncounted numbers of books have influenced me in ways I only dimly perceive. Uncounted more will continue to enlighten, educate and influence me. These three authors, however, created a crossroads in my life that dramatically and irrevocably changed me. For the better.

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