A Merry Heart is one of my all time favorite books. I haven't read it in ages(a.k.a - a year :P), but I recently got it during a book swap so I will definitely be picking it up again soon!
Miriam Stoltzfus has lost nearly everything. The man she loves dumps her and moves away to marry someone else, her father dies, and her niece is seriously injured in an accident. Miriam has given up on ever being happy and continues living her life in solitude and depression. She welcomes few into her life and blocks out her family in friends.
- A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. Miriam felt like she had lost everything - but really, she had many more things to be thankful for that she wasn't seeing past her curtain of sorrow. The hardest thing for her - the thing that made the most lasting mark - was that fact that her boyfriend jilted and left her. Miriam no longer felt that men were to be trusted, and resolved to never bestow feelings upon one again.
Miriam ends up marrying Amos - a widower in need of a wife to take care of his daughter who has loved Miriam since childhood. Both have agreed to have it be a marriage in name only - the way Miriam wants it. Miriam ends up learning an extremely valuable lesson that is not taught often anymore - love is a choice, not a feeling. In the beginning, she refused to allow herself to trust him or allow him to touch her at all. It was all extremely platonic. Eventually, Miriam learns that she doesn't have to have mushy gooshy feelings toward the man to love him - love is a choice she must make. She must also choose to be happy again.
When Miriam learns that Amos loves her, she still is hesitant to become man and wife fully and stays in her own room. It isn't too long before Miriam realizes that she, too, loves Amos, and that with God's help, she can be the wife he needs.
It was an amazing story with an extraordinary lesson to learn from it - contrary to common belief, love is not a feeling. It is not those butterflies one feels when her love walks into view. Love is a choice - a choice to be patient, kind, non-envious, non-boastful, humble, honoring, non-self seeking, not easily angered, and to not keep a record of wrongs.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.