Okay, I was curious.  I’m an author and when a book sells over seven million copies, and a film company produces a movie on the subject of the book and it stars Julia Roberts, I simply couldn’t resist exploring why there was so much buzz about this project.

The subtitle reads:  One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia.  If you haven’t read the book, here’s a brief summary.  Elizabeth Gilbert leaves an unhappy marriage in search of meaning.  She spends four months in each of three different places.  The first third of her trip was fun and entertaining.  I found myself vicariously “tasting” the pizza, spaghetti, and other tantalizing Italian dishes.

By the time Elizabeth gets to India, we see a woman who is learning to meditate and repeat prayers from a book as she sits cross-legged on a mat.  I sensed her desire to find her “center” and a purpose beyond mere existence.  However, her distractions were major and it didn’t take long for me to realize she was looking for meaning in the wrong place.  She finally makes it to Bali and learns to love again.  In the end we view Elizabeth on a boat, sailing off with her soul-mate, and that’s the end of the movie version of the story.

The theme of the movie brought me back to several years earlier.  I had come to faith in Christ as a child, but I remember as a teenager, getting on my knees and talking to God:  “I don’t want an ordinary life.  I want to live for you.  I want to spend my life investing in people and projects that will outlast me.  I want to lead people to personal faith in Jesus Christ.  I am available to you, for whatever you want me to do with my life.”  I had no idea that I would become a conference speaker and an author—I just knew that true purpose comes when we live our lives for God’s glory.

My life has taken an unexpected turn.  The path has been hard and sometimes I wonder why God allowed my son to make a devastating choice that has thrust our family “between a rock and a hard place.”  However, as Gene, Jason, and I continue to make ourselves “available” to Him, we are discovering the sweet spot of grace—and that makes life full of meaning, fulfillment, and purpose.

When was the last time you went in search of purpose and fulfillment?  Where did your journey take you and what was the result?


  1. Anonymous on August 19, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    I don’t know how many people may read this, and I am hoping nobody who knows me will! But i want to share my story because it might help you in your journey of offering grace to your son, Jason.

    My parents divorced when I was 7, i think. Kind of fuzzy on the details cuz I don’t remember much of my childhood. My dad was ordained a Presbyterian minister the year I was born. I am the oldest of 3 kids, the only girl. In fact, i am the only girl out of all my father’s siblings. (Turns out that is a good thing.)

    From the ages of 9 to 11 or so, I was molested by my grandfather regularly, until he died of cancer. Without getting too detailed, the experience left me confused, but still a virgin. Fast forward a few years, to high school. I dated casually, but never anything serious. Never fell in love. Had a crush or two. That was it. My counselors now tell me I did not ever mature sexually because I had never detached from my mother. (Was raised by my dad since age 7.) Basically, inside my heart i was still a little girl. Never really sexually matured. Dated some in college, and was basically date raped each time, without the actual act, thank the Lord. He really protected me. I did eventually marry, at age 29, and did wear white at my wedding, though we married after our baby was born. She was beautiful, our daughter. Wants to grow up to be a rancher and a missionary, bless her heart. I was hoping she’d be President. Maybe someday. I am sure you, Carol, had aspirations for your son as well. And i hear the heartbreak at the seeming reality that those can never be, but then again, we don’t know all that awaits us in heaven. If our life now which is just a vapor, is really a training ground for eternity, he may be getting his training now for something truly glorious in the Kingdom to come. Keep hoping. I haven’t read your book yet… maybe that’s in there.

    Anyway, I kind of skipped a pretty significant part of my story, because it is a difficult thing to share. And i want to say this in a discreet way. I have been married 12 years, have 5 beautiful healthy children who love the Lord, and live in a rural community which I absolutely love. I am not a big city girl. But something happened, sort of a mid-life crisis if you will. I got depressed, clinically, and became very lonely, dissatisfied with my life, etc. And i did something that could have potentially hurt alot of people, something selfish. Something that ought not to be done. And it felt so right, so good, so healing, so renewing, it just couldn’t be wrong, I reasoned at the time. But when i see the damage done, the collateral damage, it was devastating. I am still recovering. So is my husband. But he offered me grace. He forgave me for doing what for most guys would be the most painful thing anyone could do. Well almost. See, i wasn’t with a man. I was with a woman. I married hoping that it would help “fix” me. But 11 years of marriage later, I still was struggling with attractions toward women. I managed to get by without an indiscretion for 23 years since I began the struggle. But this time, I had nothing left with which to fight. So i gave in. And just like Jason gave in to his flesh in a moment of whatever it was that caused the crime of murder to be committed, so i gave in to emotions i had kept bottled up, buried, and ignored for 23 years. i just couldn’t resist anymore. I still have not matured emotionally to the place where i can connect with a man. I am still a little girl inside looking for a maternal connection. And being an adult, all of that gets sexualized. So much to explain, such a small space to do it in! But i hope I have not offended with my story. I just want you to know, we all are in need of grace.

    That is why Jesus gave His life, in our place. So He could be with us for eternity, even though we mess up. He knew we’d need grace! He planned for it! Made provision for it! And it’s ok. It really is. Learning to walk, we fall. We get back up. We walk some more. Someone recently said we’ll all be infants in heaven. They may be right. We’ll have so much to learn! A whole new realm to experience, maneuver around in, learn about. An entire universe of adventure and new abilities to perceive it await us. Jason may be in jail, but his heart is free! And so is mine. God put all the pieces back together for me, in His great mercy. He knows we are frail, but dust. He knows, and loves us anyway! Amazing. Amazing grace. How sweet the sound…

    • Anonymous on October 7, 2010 at 8:31 am

      Not sure why I was led from site to site to land here – but God knows. Your story resignated with me. You see – my daughter is living a homosexual lifestyle – is convinced she was born that way. I didn’t raise her in church, she doesn’t believe in God. Without all the details – 5 years ago my husband and I accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and I have been on a journey of healing and growth. Throughout the journey I have come to see that emotional connection is the crux of the issue for many, if not all those living the lifestyle – turning emotional need into sexual – which was not God’s design. Your comment: “I still have not matured emotionally to the place where i can connect with a man. I am still a little girl inside looking for a maternal connection. And being an adult, all of that gets sexualized. So much to explain, such a small space to do it in!” confirmed that once again.

      I guess I am writing because I am the mother – who wants to desperately now connect with her daughter – yet she is reluctant – and I am still unsure how to. Any words you could offer – any resources you might recommend – any insights you could share – would be much appreciated.

    • Anonymous on April 30, 2013 at 10:24 am

      Hi, I know this story was shared nearly three years ago, which tells you how closely I watch my sister’s website (yes, I’m Carol’s youngest sister)! I don’t know who you are, but I happened across your story this morning, and just want to tell you how it blessed me to see your obvious repentance, your vulnerability, and your beautiful articulation! Yes, by God’s grace our messes become His masterpieces, and I believe, anonymous sister, He will use your experiences to be just that as you continue to surrender, not just to His principles, but His unique design for you and your family.

      I’m praying for you today!!