Sunday, April 18, 2010
A Note from Author Paula Rinehart
So… I hear you are reading Strong Women, Soft Hearts for your online book club.
I’m writing you from Raleigh, North Carolina where I live a wild mix of counseling and writing and speaking to women’s groups…and entertaining small grandchildren. I’m hoping we can have a bit of a ‘chat’ as you begin to read.
First off, Strong Women, Soft Hearts changed my life. I know that’s a strange thing to hear an author say. But, really, the content you are reading represents a huge swing on the inside or me, one that took place over a decade where I could (almost literally) sense God reworking my framework of what strength…and softness, as a woman, actually is.
Now that didn’t happen easily, as you can read between the lines of this book and figure out! I had barreled through my twenties and most of my thirties like someone training for a race. Being a strong woman, for me, was like being the Everready bunny battery—only powered by Jesus. Somehow you just kept going. And softness…why softness was suspect because softness could get you hurt.
Toward the end of my thirties, I ran into a couple of huge, blindsiding losses. I couldn’t keep going and going—at least not in the same way. And God, in his mercy, began to do some deeper reconstruction inside my heart. Which, then, reshaped dramatically my notions of strength and softness as a woman.
My favorite parts of this book (and indeed, the parts that women email me most about) are the chapters on vulnerability, control and trust. It takes some real courage to put your heart out there with people and sometimes, even with God. There is a true sense of letting go of control, a deep invitation to trust him with the uncertainties of life and relationships.
Since I’ve written Strong Women, Soft Hearts, both our children have gotten married, three grandchildren have been born, my aging mother is slipping away by the day. I’ve had even more practice in this delicate art of trusting God. As I wrote in the book, he’s not predictable, but he is utterly faithful. I believe that even more than when I wrote this book.
You might enjoy knowing how the title for this book came about. I sent the proposal off to a couple of publishers and the consistent feedback was, “Hey, you are on to something here, but can you be a little clearer, more concrete?” It was so frustrating. One day in the shower I thought, Okay, how hard can this be? I just want to write about what it means to be a strong woman… with a soft heart. The title, Strong Women, Soft Hearts, came like a flashbulb going off.
I don’t say this glibly, but scads of women have written me about this book. Mostly what they say is they don’t understand how I could climb inside their mind and read the thoughts they were having. What that really means is that we are all telling the same story.
Truly, it’s no easy feat to make it through what life can throw your way and come out with a genuine strength rooted in God with the beauty preserved on the inside. In reality, my deep conviction is that the gospel of Christ uniquely makes this possible. Not guaranteed, but possible. I hope—so much I hope—that as you read, you will sense God stirring in the longings and losses you’ve experienced, and the dreams he’s placed in you.
If you enjoy Strong Women, Soft Hearts you might also like Better Than My Dreams, a follow-up book that looks at how the gap between our dreams and reality becomes the actual place where we experience real relationship with God. Or Sex and the Soul of a Woman, updated and due to be republished by Zondervan this coming fall. Feel free to stop by my website where I do try to blog what might be considered something vaguely insightful twice a month.
May Strong Women, Soft Hearts lead you to a solid sort of strength that grows out of really knowing Christ, with an even greater capacity to give your heart to others in his name.