Where is My Happily Ever After?
By Belinda Elliott
CBN.com Senior Producer
On the surface, author Trish Ryan was a successful thirty-something. She enjoyed her career as a lawyer, drove a nice car, and had plenty of dates. Yet something was not quite right. Even with her accomplishments, she did not feel fulfilled.
Ryan went through one disastrous relationship after another trying to find Mr. Right, including a brief marriage to an emotionally abusive man that left her living in hiding and fearing for her life.
At the same time, she was searching the spiritual realm to find any answers she could to explain why she was not happy. Her search led her into New Age practices.
“I’ve been to Mass, church, service, temple, Sacred Circle, Dance of the Inner Woman, and a ceremony to mark the movement of Jupiter into my second house,” Ryan writes in her book, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Hope, and Happily Ever After.
“I’ve had my astrological chart done, my palm read, my energy evaluated, and my wristwatch scanned for psychic potential. … All of these experiences were interesting, but none of them came through with the results they promised; none of them worked.”
It left her feeling like a failure.
"It’s an interesting culture in the New Age because if you admit that things aren’t really working, it’s seen as unspiritual for you,” Ryan says. “If it’s not working, there is this overriding sense that you’re just not getting it. You must not be meditating enough. You must not be transcending enough. So I couldn’t deny that relationship after relationship was failing and I still was just as miserable, but I genuinely thought the problem was me.”
Then one day Ryan was driving when she heard a voice tell her to “take Jesus seriously.” She had never before considered the Bible as an answer to her problems.
“I had sort of accepted this idea that Christianity was this patriarchal religion that was horrible to women and I never explored it on my own,” Ryan says. “People just told me that’s how it was. So when it came time to explore spiritual paths, I crossed that off the list.”
She began to wonder if perhaps it was time to check out Jesus for herself. She started exploring Christianity by watching author and Bible teacher Joyce Meyer on television. She also hesitantly visited a local church. She remembers wanting to see what Christians were like, but she was afraid of how she might be received by them.
“I thought Christians had special spiritual detectors and that they’d see right through me,” she says. “I thought they would judge me.”
But she came away from the visit impressed by their friendliness and how they all seemed to be genuinely happy.
“I wanted what they had, but I didn’t want to tell anybody,” she writes. “I wanted to edge up on Jesus to see what He might have to say.”
As she learned more about the Bible and how Jesus instructs Christians to live, she realized there were things in her life that would need to change. For instance, God’s Word called for purity and abstinence in dating relationships.
“I am the only person I know whose salvation story begins with a direct request to stop fornicating,” Ryan writes in her book.
Through the support of the Christians she met, she learned what it meant to have a relationship with Jesus. As it turns out, she says, her New Age disciplines proved to be useful in preparing her for her newfound faith.
“I think God has really redeemed a lot of my New Age practices to help me figure out who He is and Truth,” Ryan says. “I think if I had not looked at Jesus as my big brother, I would have had no grid for Jesus as my Savior. And if I hadn’t had all those years of reading all those New Age books first thing in the morning, I wouldn’t have had my Bible time all carved out for me.”
In addition to wanting to learn how to live out her Christian faith, she also had another big request for Jesus: she still wanted a husband.
“One of the things that surprised me when I started following Jesus,” Ryan says, “is how many of his believers didn’t seem to think it was okay to ask for a husband. I really felt more and more as I dove into the Bible, I didn’t see any evidence that God would not bring his daughters husbands. From one end to the other if women needed husbands, God provided. I mean Ruth got two! The whole point of that story is a love story that God will provide for you. I think if God has put this on your heart, seek Him for that.”
In the end, God did provide a husband for her. She is now happily married to Steve, a Christian that she met in a small group Bible study. It is the fairytale ending that she had always hoped for. Most of all, she says, when she turned to Christ she found the peace and contentment that she had been searching for through the years.
She encourages other spiritual seekers to seriously consider what Jesus offers them.
“One of my dreams is that this book will open up the possibility that if you are searching through Buddhism and Taoism and all these other things, put Jesus on the table. He makes some claims and offers that no other spiritual path does, but you won’t know that until you dive in,” Ryan says. “And you might not find it in a conversation with your friend who’s a Christian. You might have to dive into the Bible and explore it for yourself. I was blown away by what I found in the Bible.”
Her book is not only a good introduction to the Christian faith for seekers, but it is an eye-opening account of what it is like for non-believers as they begin their walk toward Jesus. With candid humor she writes about how odd Christians seemed to her at first, how she was surprised to discover the Bible is full of advice about romance, how foreign the concepts of grace, sin, and salvation were to her, and how she struggled with turning her sexuality back on once she married after months of keeping it off.
Her story should encourage us as Christians to be sensitive to where seekers are in their spiritual journeys. Sometimes non-believers can be confused by the “churchy” language that we use, or they may feel pressured to make decisions about their faith before they are truly ready.
“I work with a class called “Seek” where we work with a lot of people who are on the front end of exploring faith. The one thing I’ve really learned is when I push, people push back and it doesn’t end well,” Ryan says.
It is important to realize, she says, that God may be working in people’s lives even when it doesn’t appear that way. And just as Scripture tells us that it is the Holy Spirit that draws people to God, Christians can trust God to work in people’s lives more than their persuasive arguments.
“As I look at my story, it wasn’t any persuasive conversation anyone had with me that made me turn to Jesus, it was God,” Ryan says. “It was God speaking in my life and sort of translating things and saying, ‘Hey, this is how this applies to your life.’”
He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not is a great gift for singles as well as your non-Christian friends or family members. Order your copy today!
Also, learn more about Trish Ryan at her Web site and blog.
More interviews and book reviews
More for Singles
Comments? Email me
More articles by Belinda on CBN.com
CBN IS HERE FOR YOU!
Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.