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Novelist Falls for a Love She Never Saw Coming

After her parents' divorce, Tessa longed for the kind of love she read in her romance novels. Her own failed marriage reinforced her idea that she wasn't worthy of love until one night she met the man of her dreams. Read Transcript


[MUSIC PLAYING]

TESSA: I was born in Iran.

I was a very thoughtful, serious child,

and I grew up believing that all faiths were

more or less the same.

It was a man-made thing.

It answered our needs, and I just

wasn't one of those people who needed it.

I adored my dad.

I felt my dad really felt the same about me.

But at the same time, my dad was a very busy man.

He wasn't home very often.

I knew he loved me.

There was never a doubt in my mind,

but I wasn't quite sure that I was enough.

And so I learned to strive to be lovable.

By the time I was a teenager, there

was a profound sense of loneliness

that had settled in my heart.

Because of my parents' divorce, my mom, my sister, and I

went to England.

My father remained in Iran.

Our communication was very limited.

With the revolution and everything,

it almost became impossible.

I couldn't go back.

And so the world came between us,

but my heart didn't fully understand that,

didn't grasp that.

What I grasped was my daddy's not here.

If my daddy wanted to be here, he would make a way.

So I lost my family.

I lost my home.

I lost my language.

I made this vow that I, myself, would never

divorce because I saw the price of it in my heart.

I started attending a boarding school for young ladies.

We had to attend church.

They told those of us who were from a different faith

background that we could sit on the balcony,

and we could read our own faith books.

And I used to sneak romance novels

under my uniform, the Harlequin romance level

but also more literary kind, like the Jane Austen

and Charlotte Brontes.

That ultimate story about a person

who's rejected from childhood for no fault of her own

and someone admired by everybody else, someone recognized

as mighty and good, finally looks at her

and sees her worth-- that was the story my heart was

hungry for.

It was all responding to this need,

to this core need for someone to see me exactly

as I was and still love me, and absolutely

and utterly find me worthy-- worthy of pursuit,

worthy of love.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

I met a young man, and we fell in love.

Some 21-year-olds are quite mature.

That wasn't us.

Within a few years, you could see the cracks

in our maturity reflected in our marriage.

When that marriage essentially ended,

I came into a very dark place.

My formula for life proved faulty.

If I was good enough, if I was smart enough,

if I worked hard enough, if I was enough,

then I could be happy, and that hadn't worked.

I had a dream about Jesus one night,

and what's really amazing about that dream is the only time I

went to church really was those years

when I was in boarding school.

I never heard the gospel.

I never read the Bible.

But this is the thing.

I knew He was the Son of God.

I knew it absolutely.

And when He came closer, I looked into his eyes.

And in those eyes, I saw something

I will never see in this world, the measure of love that

put Him on the cross and the depths of power that

made the stars.

They shone through those eyes, and I almost fell on my knees

because I couldn't stand anymore.

And He just went like this to me,

and I knew what He meant was follow me.

And He wasn't just saying follow me a few steps.

He was saying, follow me.

I would have done anything.

I woke up from the dream not a Christian.

I still didn't really know what the gospel was.

Jesus Himself hadn't told me the gospel.

But I woke up with an unshakable peace.

Very quickly after that, the Lord

surrounded me with Christians.

They all invited me to church.

They invited me to Bible study.

And for the first time in my life,

I began to hear the gospel, read the Bible, and I thought,

what's all this?

Give me a list of do's and don'ts that will fix my life.

That's what I was looking for.

So I didn't fully understand, but the people around me,

I understood.

They were different.

There was an old priest, and he came to me,

and he said, when are you going to come to Christ, Tessa?

All the thoughts in my head were some answer to just swat away

that question.

So I opened my mouth to do that very thing,

and do you know what came out of my mouth?

What came out of my mouth was, "I already do."

And as the words came out of my mouth, I realized I do believe.

He asked me to follow Him Himself,

and I do with all my heart.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

God-- He is someone greater than other men.

He is the King of kings.

He pursues us.

He was the one who saw me, this faulty, average, fallen young

girl, and He sat His affections on me.

My worth isn't in what I do.

My worth is that Jesus calls me His beloved.

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