by Jennifer Wright, Editor/Writer
I was fortunate enough to get an early look at the new book by Dr. Peggy Hartshorn, The L.O.V.E. Approach: 4 Proven Steps to Transforming Relationships in Your Family, Church, and Community. Doing some simple editing and formatting early in the process, I got to read the stories attached to the four steps that are so familiar to those of us at Heartbeat or who have been using Heartbeat materials for training volunteers. Seeing the stories of individuals learning and using these steps in their own lives helped me contextualize a lot of the ways the L.O.V.E. Approach has creeped into my life without me necessarily paying attention. It also showed me places I have stopped at an early step and failed to follow through and make the impact I might have.
I think the difference is one of learning styles for me. I’m blessed to be surrounded by people trained in and practicing the L.O.V.E. Approach at work every day, but sometimes that makes me just think the world works that way (you know, until I spend some time online). With this book, I got to see inside the brains of the characters applying the steps to their lives, and it has helped me internalize the teaching so much better.
You see, in this book, you read about four different characters experiencing a L.O.V.E. Approach training. The characters have different outlooks on life, different challenges, and different hopes for how they’re going to use what they learn. After learning about each step, you get to see one of the characters apply it in their own lives.
The standout step as I read the book the first time (and every time since), is V: Vision and Value. In the story chapter, a character I identify with personally, Katy, leads a women’s ministry group at her church. She was overwhelmed, in a way I’ve felt many times, by the depth of what was being shared by the other women in this group. She was terrified of not having a solution, of offering something that hurt rather than helped, of doing too much, too little, or exactly the wrong thing. One woman in particular, she sees as a mystery. When she decides to really enter in to an open and honest conversation with Ann on her own, all kinds of challenges arise. All of a sudden, Katy is faced with questions of gender identity and fluidity and the fear of not fitting in. Ann was confused, overwhelmed, and hurting, but Katy, with the help of what she learned from the L.O.V.E. Approach training, was able to recognize what Ann was lacking – a vision of her own value and the way things could be.
I can’t tell you how afraid I am sometimes of dealing with this kind of question with friends. The concept of gender fluidity being newly mainstreamed is honestly overwhelming on its own. If you disagree for a moment, the world decides you hate anyone who might have a different view. Finding a way to be profoundly pro-people amid the din of shouting is difficult. Peggy Hartshorn, through Katy, showed me a different way to approach the situation in a one-on-one conversation that affirms the individual and is rooted in God’s word and plan for His people.
I’ll be honest, the first draft I read, Peggy asked me what I thought of this chapter, and I was afraid to say much at all. In the end, my answer was little more than, “You’re incredibly brave. I could see that situation happening. I think it’s very real. You’re incredibly brave to address that topic at all.”
My reaction was ultimately fearful. I wanted in some ways to distance myself from it, but the chapter planted itself in my brain. I have thought of it regularly ever since. In the final draft, it still stands out to me, but now, I don’t want to distance myself from it at all. It’s excellent (as it always was). I still think it’s incredibly brave to address the topic of gender identity in the current climate, and I know it will take bravery when I do, but I expect it of myself now. After all, if Katy could offer a hopeful view of life to someone who has serious questions about gender identity, why couldn’t I?
We need more books and authors like The L.O.V.E. Approach and Peggy Hartshorn. The bravery to address with both love and truth the most challenging and divisive topics of the day is something we can’t do without. Peggy has given this to us in The L.O.V.E. Approach, and I would recommend it to anyone I know.
You can pre-order your copy of The L.O.V.E. Approach today at TheLoveApproachBook.com.