Did you ever finish reading a book and just want to say “Thank you” to the author for writing it? That’s exactly what happened to me as I was reading This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness.
This is a story of trust. Trust in what Laura Munson knew was real, in spite of appearances. It’s a story of risk as well — risking her heart and her pride. It’s an unlikely story of her own happiness.
Laura Munson chose happiness. Her husband shut down and checked out of their marriage and their family. She knew that she could not make him do anything. She couldn’t change his mind about what he thought he was feeling. She couldn’t make him understand what she saw. She couldn’t force him to be committed and responsible. So instead she waited patiently. She persevered; she reacted in response to who she knew her husband was, not how he was acting at the moment; she loved him. She loved him through her own pain and his pain.
She invites us on her journey, with powerful results. It does align with my own personal belief system, so perhaps that is why it resonated so much for me, but I can’t help but wonder how many relationships — those between siblings, husband and wives, parents and children and more — might be saved if more people were willing to take this sort of approach.
In addition to a very real look at a very real marriage and family, the book deals with Munson’s relationship with writing. She has always felt like a writer, and though she was a successful freelancer, novel after novel remained unpublished. She shares the writer’s vision and drive — to help people understand life or understand themselves.
If nothing else, if one is willing to really look at Laura Munson’s example, one can learn that happiness is not dependent on what others think of us or direct circumstances in our lives. In the first chapter she addresses the reader: “So stay with me. Like a gentle friend. Maybe we will both learn something that will change our lives. I’m willing to try. On our behalf” (page 15 ARC).
Happiness comes from knowing who you are, and being willing to love without reserve. This kind of hopeful love is not easy. It takes a risk. One must risk failure, risk abandonment, and yet it’s worth it.
Being able to look deeply at one person’s experience and what he or she learns from it is what I love about memoirs in general, and it’s definitely what I love about this book in particular. Because it affected me so deeply, I can’t help but make this a 5 Star Read.
Jennifer Donovan is happy. Life isn’t always good, but she’s been blessed with an optimistic outlook as well as the faith that God is in control, both of which help her deal with from ugly truth. She blogs at Snapshot.