Ever since I was a child, I have loved to read. Knowing this, my mother crafted a little girl bear reading a book on my Christmas stocking when I was only eight years of age. My stocking now hangs at my home during that celebratory season, next to the ones she made for Biker Man and Scout, as they joined our clan. The stocking fairly represented what I enjoyed doing most as a child.
I have never lost my deep love for reading and books, but the passion for it has ebbed and flowed over the years, for a brief time getting snuffed out by required reading in high school and college. After that, I believed I didn't "have the time" to read anything enjoyable.....for "pleasure." I unknowingly locked my soul into a cage that felt guilty if I wasn't reading something that would "challenge" or cause me to "grow" in the professional or personal goals that I had set for myself. As I look back during that season of striving, there were many times that I was very sad. Literature legalism had crept into my life, causing a dictation in my heart of what I "should" be reading. I realize that I was robbing myself of who I really am, not allowing myself to experience a full variety of something that was a God-given gift, for me to delight in.
It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I took the bull by the horns, working to break off the self-imposed bondage in regard to one of the loves of my life. Through my discoveries, it has occurred that I am not one to follow book trends anymore, in either the faith-based or other genres. I concluded that just because it was on the New York Times Bestseller List, or that is was the richest woman in America's book club pick, or someone that I really respected suggested it for personal growth, didn't mean that I had to read it. Or that I should read it. Or that I needed to read it. There is a lot out there, and each of us only have so much time in the day.
For sure, I feel that all of us should be reading something......it is so good for us! I think it is right and appropriate for all of us to have personal censorship in our reading choices, based on our own convictions. I do find reviews, and others opinions of a read, valuable. It helps me navigate toward the best picks for quality reading, selections that I want to fill my mind, heart and soul with. As I have begun to follow my heart on making my "own" choices.....I have fallen in love with reading again.
Last summer, a book began circulating within my circle of friends. I blew off all the "ya gotta read this" suggestions.....even skipping over the many postings about it. Then one rainy day, I had some extra time to spend reading the details of everyone's minute by minute life drama, on my news-feed. Wouldn't you know it, stellar "ya gotta read this" comments about the book were again rising.....more.....and more.....and more. Something at the cellular (and I am not talking about my cell phone) level in me quietly spoke....."read it." So, I asked one of my precious friends if I could borrow her copy, when she was finished. I was in no rush. Then.....something magical happened. The book appeared at my doorstep. Literally.....two days later.
As I unwrapped it.....the words....."a dare to live fully.....right where you are" immediately challenged me. This was no dare.....double-dog dare.....or triple-dog dare, that would make you want to revert to the maturity of an eight-year old male..... to put up your dukes and start sparring, or even to stick your tongue on a freezing flag-pole. This dare was a wooing pursuit of the deep place.....a place that was hungry.....tired.....hurt. A place that was ready to throw in the towel at times. I didn't even know that that place was there.....and that I was there, in that place.
What do you do when you have felt alone and sad.....all of your life?
What do you do when children you are caring for cuss you out.....run-away.....threaten you, and then take their own life?
What do you say to the first girlfriend......who's husband is a drunk?
What about the second.....who's husband is a Pastor and he chooses his secretary instead?
The third, who's an Ivy League educated professional.....who's husband hits, cheats, steals and walks away?
How do you respond......when a precious one loses not only a baby, but two, three, four and even five.....one at birth?
When does the "sad" stop in the deep places?
Now.....I am cautious, because of my own experience, in recommending
titles and authors for reading.....so.....having just unpacked all that
mess.....I am proceeding carefully.....
BUT, like everyone else in my news-feed, I have to share when I find
an extremely rare treasure.....
Ann Voskamp has given me one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given. Her book, One Thousand Gifts, encourages us to grab hold of the opportunity to open our eyes to what is immediately around us. Right here. Right now. There is no encouragement toward efforts of striving.....there is no "you shoulda'"......"you coulda'"......"if you only have woulda'".....the encouragement is to embrace grace towards the life you are living.....in this very moment.
There are no words that I can share, that would adequately provide proper justice for this treasure.....I can only share with heartfelt passion.....this book has changed my life forever. For eternity. You can do your own research.....check the reviews and decide. But, may I appeal to you.....you have that deep place too.....that longs to be opened up to a new....a refreshing.....a revival.
Give yourself a life-changing gift this year.....soul food.....if you only read one book this year.....consider the masterpiece..... One Thousand Gifts.