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.

Author Crush – Leslie Vernick

          As I wrote in a previous post, I separated from my husband about a year ago when I realized that our relationship needed help. I was not able to verbalize it well at the time, but I knew there were serious problems in the way we related. I wanted to find healthier ways to communicate and interact. Over the ensuing months, I devoured books on relationships. I found many books that helped identify the problems, and a few had helpful suggestions for countering those dysfunctions. What I really wanted, though, was something that helped me understand healthy relationships.

          I knew the best way to effect change is to have a clear, concrete picture of the desired change. If I expected to succeed at changing our relationship into something better, I needed to know what that better relationship should look like. Because my faith is so important to me, I wanted something that would help me put Biblical principles into practice in ways that would create and nurture a healthy relationship.

          After months of searching and reading and assimilating copious amounts of information about relationships that I discovered “The Emotionally Destructive Relationship” by Leslie Vernick. This book is a goldmine for anyone searching for guidance in developing a healthy relationship based on Judeo-Christian principles. Those not interested in the faith aspects can still get lots of insight and help in creating emotionally healthy relationships, but the relationship issues are explored from a thoroughly biblical base. Even though the title suggests differently, the focus of this book is the pursuit of healthy relationships. I finally have my clear, succinct picture of a healthy relationship in the definition she gives.

          An emotionally healthy relationship is a mutually respectful, mutually honest and mutually caring and committed relationship. I needed this simple standard to use as a measure. Whenever my intuition says something is “off” in an interaction with anyone, I can quickly compare the situation with this definition and adjust my thoughts, expectations and actions accordingly.

          Leslie Vernick is my newest Author Crush. Everyone of the books I’ve read, () have been chock-full of helpful, faith-friendly insights and suggestions. Visit her website to get a taste of her counsel. Or download samples from Amazon.