In “Ghosted,” Nancy French shares her unique and compelling life story

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In “Ghosted,” Nancy French shares her unique and compelling life story

April 16, 2024 -

The American flag flies next to and in front of Capitol Hill. By rarrarorro/stock.adobe.com

The American flag flies next to and in front of Capitol Hill. By rarrarorro/stock.adobe.com

The American flag flies next to and in front of Capitol Hill. By rarrarorro/stock.adobe.com

“God redeems all he allows.”

Dr. Jim Denison, cofounder and CEO of Denison Forum, often makes that statement to those grappling with misfortune, disaster, or death. While “allowing it” doesn’t necessarily mean God orchestrated it, his redemption of our hopelessness, desperation, or dismay can bring meaning and courage in our worst moments.

The poster child of such redemption could easily be Nancy French.

Famed ghostwriter and author of her autobiography, Ghosted: An American Story, French experienced almost unimaginable poverty, abuse, and disastrous relationships until she met a young, upwardly mobile lawyer. In a matter of a few weeks after meeting him, she married David French.

You know, that David French.

He’s currently a New York Times columnist, the former senior editor of The Dispatch, a Harvard-educated attorney, and a conservative political commentator. Perhaps David French is best known for his outspoken criticism of Donald Trump’s moral character and his unsuitability to hold the presidency. Once a darling in the conservative political sphere, David French is now persona non grata to many.

That many may not read Nancy’s book because of her last name is unfortunate. They’ll miss a well-written, page-turning epic of one of America’s most remarkable women.

Appreciation doesn’t demand agreement

Nancy French’s story of resilience, resurgence, and rebirth is compelling, inspiring, and convicting.

While some may not agree with her on every political or social position, we can still embrace her as our sister in Christ and fellow heir in God’s kingdom. We can empathize with her struggles and celebrate her victories, of which she has had many. Scripture calls believers to unity even when we have different perspectives or passions (1 Corinthians 12:12–27).

Unity does not mean uniformity.

In fact, the call to unity begs the presence of diversity. If we’re all in total agreement, we have uniformity, not unity. Granted, on some issues uniformity is required (e.g., the triune God, the need for salvation, and the nature and role of Jesus). Unity requires me to prioritize the uniqueness of Christ, the primacy of Scripture, and ultimately to deny self (Luke 9:23) with its proclivities and sometimes misdirected priorities.

When God “ghosts” you

Nancy’s life has taken some incredible twists and turns. Whether it was being nearly murdered, ghostwriting Ann Romney’s biography, living through her husband’s deployment to Iraq, or doing gut-wrenching research into the sexual abuse scandal at Camp Kanakuk, Nancy French’s life is movie material. To share much about it here would lessen the sheer surprise and amazement her book delivers.

Her vivid account of a poverty-laced early life, image-shattering abuse later by people she trusted, and heartbreak and betrayal in the rise and fall of worldly successes in recent years will keep you engrossed.

Yet rather than driving her from her Christian faith (although there were setbacks), ultimately these tests and challenges solidified it. The evidence of the Holy Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatian 5:22–23) continues to reside in Nancy French.

Perhaps French makes this point better at the end of her book:

Over the years, I’ve been ghosted by political friends, spiritual allies, and even some neighbors. I’ve felt the sting of betrayal when those I loved turned their backs on me. But as much as I wrestled with God and tried to ignore him, he showed up and occasionally took my breath away. The old-time Christians called this the Holy Ghost, and I like that phrase. Throughout my life, God “ghosted” me, and being “Holy-Ghosted” is a much different experience altogether. Instead of shoving me away, God brought me in. Instead of sending a message of apathy, he showed loving care. Instead of disappearing in silence, he revealed his hopeful presence.

In that moment, I relented to that hope. God was God, not me.

I urge you to read Ghosted. It may not change your position on issues, but it will give you reason to trust God more fully and follow him more faithfully.

Remember, “God redeems all he allows.”

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