I have met a lot of Britt Bradfords in my life. Some of my best friends are made from the same mold as the youngest sister in the finale of Becky Wade’s (Bradford Sisters series), “Sweet On You”. The Britt Bradford types have illusions of strength, fierceness and independence. I am a Britt Bradford.
And sometimes I am those things, strong and some of its friends. But, most of the time, not so much.
Last November, I sat stunned (and a little star-struck if I am being honest) as Charles Martin delivered the keynote speech at the 2018 Christy Awards. He quoted a verse in that speech that spoke to me then, but of late reminds me of the gifted missioned voice of Becky Wade.
Martin told a writer’s block story and of his prayers to God to help him fill the dreaded blank page. He raised his arms, closed his eyes and told the story as if he were the only person in the room.
“My heart is stirred by a noble theme, as I recite verses for my King, my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer”
Just a few minutes later that same gifted writer and orator was presenting the 2018 Book Of The Year Christy Award to Becky Wade (“True To You”). I rushed to grab the acceptance speech on video, and I am glad I did because I had no idea what Becky said nor could I see through my tears. I was so proud, because I knew of some of the backstory of Becky’s ministry.
I’d started reading Becky’s books just about a year before, (“My Stubborn Heart”), her first in Christian Fiction and still my favorite. While the Christy Awards are for Christian Fiction, it still was a monumental moment for the industry because as Becky said in her speech “I write romance novels for women”. But o contraire, she does so much more! Most of the things I knew of her I knew from a divinely appointed wait in a food line at an event. I’d been to dinner, maybe once with some other friends with her, but mostly she was a writer I admired. I love her writing, but there is a single thing that makes her books powerful, and that is that she bathes every book in prayer and asks others to do the same. And the result is astounding and “Sweet On You” launched April 30th and you should read it!
She recites voices for her King, she uses her tongue as the pen of a skillful writer. She brought us truths like “But Jesus” (“Falling For You”), “Christ Alone” (“True To You”), “He gives and takes away”(“Christmas Heirloom” and the novella “Then Came You”). “Sweet On You” is no exception, the words are anointed, and were words, for me, for such a time as “this”.
Fans long awaited the finale to the Bradford Sister series, most of us call this one “Britt and Zander’s” story, but it turned out to be so much more. I read it in about 8 hours with very little sleep in between. This book is the kind of book that once one finishes it, there is no desire to read for a few days because the truths buried in the sweet romance, suspense and hilarious banter shredded me to my core. It also sent me to my knees in repentance and gratitude.
Britt is the youngest sister of three—the other two having endured suffering in life. According to Britt the little suffering she’d experience paled in comparison. There is no doubt that Britt is gifted with independence, resourcefulness and humor. She refuses to “bother” anybody else with her pain, because it is not to be compared to the pain of others, especially Zander, and that of her sister’s. She is stubborn and if she hurts others it is because she won’t let them help her or refuses to put her heart out there for her best friend Zander, for fear that it will ruin things. So, she continues on her journey of self-reliance and secret “bad” decisions until she comes to the end of herself and realizes she needs God, and that there is no other way to do life without Him regardless of how “gifted” or “put together” one is.
Zander refuses to give up seeking Britt’s heart and pushing hers towards Jesus. She finally looks in the preverbal mirror and finds out how remarkably ill equipped she is to do life without Jesus and that her pain DOES matter and is not to be compared to the pain of others. She counted on Zander to protect her and remind her of such truths. For his part, Zander’s “biggest enemy of his faith was his own disappointment”—and Britt understood that she could help him on that journey, as she’d been doing her whole life, even if he didn’t know it. She understood the responsibility of loving someone like Zander, and because of a miracle from God, Zander was able to receive her love. He shouldn’t have been able to do that, and she should not have been able to handle the “responsibility of loving someone like Zander”.
The intersection of their understanding and acknowledgment of the necessity of reliance on God is where my tears started, and I am not sure they will stop when I think about this book, or more importantly how important God is in my life. In so many ways, I saw myself in Britt, “Independent”, “Strong”, “Resilient” and those traits have taken me far in life.
But not far enough, not so far that I spend every waking moment at the foot of the cross.
I was also struck by Britt’s very real feelings that her pain didn’t matter when compared to the pain of others. This part made me sad because I know that others feel that way about my story, as though my story carries more trauma or pain than theirs, and that simply isn’t true. God has not gifted me to carry your pain or you mine, but we all have Him.
“The sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:38).
I closed the book and wanted to shout from the mountain tops “OUR GOD IS ABLE”.. He is able to break me of my self reliance and He’s gifted me with an ability to tell you that YOUR PAIN MATTERS!
After a few short days, I thought of that verse again, and I thanked God that Becky’s hands, mind, words and gifts are solely dedicated to reciting verses for her King. She truly embodies that verse I love so much. The powerful reminders in this book (and ALL of her others) are God breathed as they land on the page that you and I read. The ministry of Christian Fiction has been compared by my sister to the rising of Christian music. Some people may pick up a Christian Fiction book that will never pick up a Bible. How will they know if we do not tell them? That is why Christian Fiction Matters.
I have been a Christian since I was a teenager and this book served to shove me towards Jesus and understand that He is my everything and I can do absolutely nothing without Him.
I simply can not breathe without Him. And I don’t understand people who try.