I have always enjoyed reading and in here I am going to share something that I have never shared with anyone; please be kind with my vulnerabilities.
Reading was my way to escape, to feel a part of something, to find friends. Now before anyone gets upset with me, I want you to know that I have had (and still have) some wonderful friends growing up, but I still never really felt like I fit in. I didn’t think or do the same things that my friends did. Not that any of this is bad – all people are different, have different talents, abilities and desires. While I liked spending time with my friends and having those relationships, I also desired time to myself and quiet. And I’m pretty sure that is what made me so different. Also, I really wasn’t very rebellious (I think that “stage” came a little later for me, in college). I knew what my parents expected from me and having their approval and not disappointing them was very important to me. I don’t resent that, I am very grateful for growing up with that desire and from it I learned not being like everyone else is ok and so I turned to books for companionship.
And it’s still true for me today – when I’m feeling overwhelmed or bogged down, reading helps me to escape or I saw somewhere someone called it “Mommy’s in time out!” I still need that quiet time to almost recoup from the day-to-day chaos.
I’d say in around junior high I discovered Christian fiction. It started with romance, what girls doesn’t love a good romance? And then I read a series by Frank Peretti that was different. It was a thriller/mystery that had my heart pumping and I would stay up way to late because I just couldn’t put it down. And from there I found Ted Dekker. He has become one of my favorite authors; he delves into the supernatural “realm” so to speak – making my faith stretch and question. He wrote about spirits and demons and a whole other world. Some of that is scary, but the way he wrote it made so much sense to me. While I loved to read romantic stories of characters finding their faith through hardships and falling in love after having to let the loved one go and how families miraculously came together against all odds, albeit through tragedy and sometimes chaos, I found myself wanting to find something a bit….deeper? Ted Dekker and now his daughter Rachelle Dekker and another Christian thriller author, Mark Andrew Olsen all write books that make me think about who I am in Christ and helped me to understand that light always overcomes darkness.
(Going a tad off subject here, but bear with me!)
That is the “theme” behind Rachelle Dekker’s first series, The Seers. (My most recent reading adventure.) Light always overcomes darkness and remembering that light in myself – in all of us – is what makes us whole. Sometimes that light has to work hard to overcome, but that hard work is what builds our faith.
“It took me a long time to learn that faith’s purpose is not to release you from life’s trials. Faith gives you the strength to see the trial fully and to know this too shall pass. To hold nothing against the world or the trial before you. To practice true forgiveness.” The Returning, Rachelle Dekker.
(No worries, this will come full circle!)
I didn’t see it when I was growing up. I just thought I was different because I didn’t like or enjoy the same things as those around me. This made me an outcast, made me “miss out,” made me wonder (more times than I can count) “Who am I?”
And I still do. “Who am I, to be responsible for these two, sweet little boys?” “Who am I, to have this wonderful family?” “Who am I, to be offered the unconditional love of a man who I’m pretty sure I drive crazy?”
But what if my being different wasn’t just because that’s who I was? And since I didn’t have the same interests I was missing out? But being different meant I had something I needed to share and all of the quiet, reading time was the Father’s way of showing me what I have to offer – His light. What if even then, when I wasn’t sure of who I was, that He knew I would come to this realization and I would feel like I’ve been struck by lightning at how clear it is to me now?!
I have read many non-fiction books (most recent Bible study Finding I Am, by Lysa TerKeurst is wonderful!) about how to connect with God on that personal level and how to delve deeper into the Bible to build that relationship; they have been helpful to me, by guiding me on the process. But the fictional stories have seemed to help me to apply it to myself. They write HOW their character find their light; remembering what the Father says about them and for whatever reason it resonates with me a bit more. And I really love that these specific authors don’t shy away from the evil. We all know that it exists, but sometimes we feel like if we don’t acknowledge it maybe it won’t hurt us, but that’s exactly what it wants. Ignoring the problem only gives it more room to grow; shining light on the problem, while most likely painful, is the only way to find the solution. (One lesson learned from Finding I Am study!)
(Full circle coming!)
My love of reading, in the long run (close to 20 years!) has helped me to find who I am in Christ. It’s helped me to remember how to find my light; it’s brought me back to faith when I doubted myself; it’s made me dig deeper and want to become a better person, not just myself but for those around me.
I want you to know that this is a HUGE work in progress for me, as I’m coming to find out that it is in everyone. This quote from Rachelle’s book really hit home for me:
“If I’m being honest, which I feel like I can be here with you in this safe place we share, I am living in a constant state of judgement. I judge myself for losing sight of my true nature. I judge myself for needing to remember. I judge myself for aging, for feeling weak and tired. I judge myself for the blame I carry. And I judge myself that I can’t let it go. I know I shouldn’t, and then I judge myself because I do. Maybe that’s all this life is, really. Waking up each morning and forgiving yourself. Forgiving the world around you. Seeing things with clear eyes and letting go of the grievances we hold on to for dear life. Maybe that is the only way to really find peace. It’s hard to do when the darkness creeps in. When thoughts of you flood my mind or when I’m overcome with worry for your sister. But I am trying to see myself as I hope that you see yourself: blameless, whole, lacking nothing, perfect. For the love given to us call this forth.” The Returning
And now I’ve found a new habit to work on stacking – stop judging myself and remember who I am: the daughter of my Father, who chose me and gives me His light (and a love for reading!)
“Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, ‘I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.'” ~ John 8:12