Love won: Despite challenges, Concordia professor’s book publishes with message of healing
FARGO — "Love's not a candle; it's the freakin' sun."
For author and Concordia theology professor, Jacqueline Bussie, learning to love as God does, without limits or exceptions is the key to overthrowing hate and heal hurt in today's divided world.
Written during the time of the 2016 election, "Love Without Limits" is part memoir, part how-to guide on how to love others, even when it may not be the easiest.
"My heart was broken by the amount of people who didn't speak to each other, who insulted each other on social media just because they had political differences," Bussie says. "So I didn't want to write a book about politics at all, but I did want to write a book that was about love. And love across differences."
Having experienced difficulty in her own family during the current state of the world, Bussie admits she isn't always the best at practicing what she writes.
"I am the kind of person who is lousy at love without limits," Bussie says. "As a Christian, I just want to do better. I want to love like Jesus loved."
With spiritual growth and healing — not only of herself, but of others — Bussie addresses love across all differences, including political parties, skin color, passport, religion, faith, distance and more.
Not every chapter pleases everyone, however. Something Bussie learned firsthand — before the book even made it to print.
"My publisher was very excited (about the book)," she says. "They said they thought it was terrific, but there was one thing they wanted to talk to me about."
During a call with the publisher, Bussie was told some of the stories she was telling "are not in line with the values of the majority of readers."
"They said 'it's the gays and the Muslims,' " Bussie says. "Word-for-word, that is what they said. I was heartbroken."
The publishing house sent edits and a rewrite that combined the two chapters that they deemed "theologically out of bounds," labeling it as "OTHERS."
"I was heartbroken," Bussie says. "Because if you have ever loved someone, they are not others. They are the person or people that you love."
Bussie made the decision to refuse the edits and rewrite, which ultimately meant she was dropped from the major Christian publishing house that held the rights to her book. In addition to dropping her from their company, they also demanded Bussie pay back the advanced salary she received — a salary that compensated for her year away from Concordia to write.
"I had just lost a year of my life, I lost my book, I lost my dignity, I lost my hope because I felt very heartbroken by what they had done, and I felt like I didn't have any options," she says.
Several months later, with the rejection of her story still fresh in her mind, Bussie returned to writing, this time turning to social media to say what happened.
"I don't know how I forgot that writing is healing prayer to me, but I had forgotten." she says. "When I wrote (the Facebook post), I was like 'wait a minute, I didn't lose everything.' What I did not lose was my love. Love had won. In a sense, I had lost all of those things because I had refused to let go of love, which was the whole message of the book."
Taking a picture of herself with "censored" written on duct tape over her mouth, Bussie took to Facebook and shared her story.
The post went viral.
"Strangers that I didn't even know started tagging publishers and publishing houses," Bussie says. "And on the very day I chose to do that, the senior acquisitions editor for Fortress Press was at a writing conference sitting on a panel right next to my literary agent."
The editor asked Bussie's agent for a copy of the book, and in 24 hours, an offer was sent to Bussie.
"That Facebook post had only been up for two hours," she says. "They made it completely possible for us to buy back the rights to that book."
Where to find it
Readers can find Bussie's book at Zandbroz Variety store in Fargo and Melberg Church Supply and Book Store in Moorhead, as well as major book retailers (Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Target, just to name a few).
Bussie will also present her book at a reception Wednesday, Sept. 5, at the Sanctuary Events Center. Copies will be available for purchase, and attendees will also be treated to a reading of the book, inspired by the Florida-native's adopted city: Fargo.
"(The book) feels like, honestly, like it doesn't have a lot to do with me," Bussie says. "It feels like I am a part of this bigger movement of people who are tired of hate, tired of division and that feels exciting. It's exciting to be part of a movement of revolutionary love."
If you go
When: 7 p.m., Wednesday. Sept. 5
Where: The Sanctuary Events Center, 670 Fourth Ave. N.
Info: Free and open to the public. Books will be available for purchase and refreshments will be served.