For our first night there, we decided to stay in a hotel on Waikiki beach before heading over to the house where we’d be spending the rest of the vacation. As we were walking back to the hotel after a day of sunbathing, we noticed a skit being performed on a portable stage on the beach, so we stopped to watch.
They were really good—funny, moving, talented. And it was only at the end of the show that it became clear that the whole performance was about God.
In general, outward expressions of faith offended me, especially outward expressions of Christian faith. I’m not sure why this was so—perhaps I just found the religion judgmental in spite of my own connection to it. As a sophomore, when I was a Resident Advisor for my dorm, I was furious when some of the freshmen on my floor came back from an off-campus gathering—where the subject matter was “God, Satan, and the Occult”—crying because the professor hinted that they were not going to heaven. I decided to take matters into my own hands.
I went to the next speech he gave, which was actually more reasonable than I expected it to be, and listened to him with a set jaw. When it was over, I followed him and his groupies into the room reserved especially for people who had questions. I barely entered the room before spluttering, “How dare you tell people whether or not they’re going to heaven? Who do you think you are?”
“Come in,” the professor said kindly. But I stayed where I was in the doorway glaring at them all. One of the girls, whom I recognized from class, was standing next to a guy my friends called “BJ” because he had gotten a blowjob on the bus ride home from a campus ski trip. The girl said, “You know, it’s like when you believe in God… it’s like, you know, if everyone thinks the sky is blue, but the sky is not blue, it’s green. And…”
I stared at her, my mouth open.
“Why don’t you come in and talk for a bit?” the professor urged again, gently interrupting the girl who was starting to ramble. But I decided to leave right away. There was no way I was going to stick around to be brainwashed by some evangelical Christians. And I had a feeling I was not going to make a dent in their way of thinking. As I was walking home and remembering BJ and that girl with her green sky, I muttered under my breath, “What a bunch of fools you are.”
But these little skits on the beach in Hawaii were different. The people were talented, the dialogue was clever, and they spoke on the innocuous subject of love. The entire performance was so professionally done it was enjoyable to watch. When I finally realized what it was all about, I was a little impressed that such talented people would talk unashamedly about God.
Just as the applause was dying down, one of the actors jumped off the stage and singled me out in the crowd.
“Would you like to study the Bible?” she asked me with a broad smile.
“Huh?” I blushed, startled. “Um…” I paused as I blinked at her.
“No, thank you,” I finished with the ghost of a smile, and glanced at my friends who were starting to walk away. I quickly ran to catch up with them.
In my year of solitude and hopelessness, this was the first time I was invited to learn about God. This was the first time I was called.
At seventeen, Jennie Goutet has a dream that she will one day marry a French man and sets off to Avignon in search of him. Though her dream eludes her, she lives boldly—teaching in Asia, studying in Paris, working and traveling for an advertising firm in New York.
When God calls her, she answers reluctantly, and must first come to grips with depression, crippling loss, and addiction before being restored. Serendipity takes her by the hand as she marries her French husband, works with him in a humanitarian effort in East Africa, before settling down in France and building a family.
Told with honesty and strength, A Lady in France is a brave, heart- stopping story of love, grief, faith, depression, sunshine piercing the gray clouds—and hope that stays in your heart long after it’s finished.
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Genre – Memoir
Rating – PG-13
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