Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey is one of my least favorite characters of the 6 novels written by Jane Austen.
Not because she has been poorly written, but because of the mirror it reflects of my own past.
I find her character uncomfortable, as it reminds me of who I used to be in a way I cannot easily turn away from.
She unsettles me, as my past does at times when I spend too much time reminiscing over it.
Catherine ends up meeting a “nice” man, Henry when she is newly arrived in Bath.
I met my Henry on site when he joined the staff of the summer camp I worked for.
There was immediate attraction, and a sense of connection I was too immature to fully comprehend, until one day he abruptly left, and I didn’t have a clear understanding as to why. Because I too had done something I should feel guilty for, by making my interest clearly known prior to knowing much about the man I was interested in.
I did know he had a faith, I just wasn’t sure where I was headed at the time to know how that might have impacted his decision.
When we reconnected through a mutual work acquaintance 4 years later, we still felt the same draw to one another. My Henry asked me out for dinner a few days later and over Chinese food, he shared how he had been struggling over the fact I was not a believer, something I shared at the time with his previous girl friend, and so he left to avoid further complicating his life when another job opportunity arose.
It wasn’t because I had done anything wrong.
Until a few weeks before we remet, I hadn’t been headed for true North yet.
And he did the right thing by walking away.
Unlike the Northanger Abbey story, where Henry walked away from his father over his unjust treatment of his love interest, my Henry walked away from me because he was following His Father’s leading….and heard ‘not yet.’
I am pleased to say we have been together ever since that dinner, almost 24 years ago next month.
And our True North has guided us through all the highs, lows, sickness, health, parenting, loss, grief and joys we have faced since.
The best thing that could have happened for me was that separation, although it felt like the opposite at the time.
Times of reflection can lead us to discover who we really are, in all our flaws, warts & weaknesses, if we have a reference point to fix our sight upon.
I cannot stress enough the value in both of us having Jesus being our true North.
Without Him, our considerable differences would have led us to part years ago.
With His guidance, speaking time in His Presence & Word, He helps us navigate, as the compass in our lives.
No matter where we go. Jesus will always guide us to our true Home.