Thursday, July 21, 2016

Goals: Read.More.Books

 I have always loved to read. Since graduating from college (where I was an English major), I haven't read much other than parenting books, Christian life books, missions books, and homeschooling books. So when a friend asked me a few months back if I wanted to join a book club, I said yes! I was looking forward to reading more of a variety of books and being able to discuss them with other women.

We alternate between reading a biography, a classic, and a newer novel. Thus far, I have read a Nelson Mandela biography, Emma by Jane Eyre, Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, and Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer. Ben and I took a class during our missions training where the teacher said, "Readers are leaders." We like to joke about that now, but it is true. Reading teaches us so much about life. Sometimes we learn facts. Sometimes we grasp ideas. Sometimes we feel understood. Sometimes we understand people and cultures. Sometimes we feel empowered. Sometimes we feel emotions that we've never allowed ourselves to feel before. Whatever it be, I'm a believer that books are crucial to our growth as people. They do things that movies and television and even articles and blog posts can't do.

The biography of Nelson Mandela taught me much about South Africa's history that I have probably learned but had forgotten too much of. It inspired me to act more on my passions and to never give up. It convicted me in how little I give my life and heart and soul for Jesus. It reminded me of how broken our world is and how sad racial segregation is. It allowed me to understand the fear that stirs inside of all of us with privilege when we are asked to give it up... and to consider which areas of privilege I am holding on to because of the fear of letting go.

Emma offered me a look into an upperclass 19th century English life. It helped me to ponder relationships and misunderstandings and hurts within them. It encouraged me to consider the value of allowing friends to speak into my lives, even when the truth is painful.

I was hesitant about reading Big Little Lies. I am picky in my media picks these days, including books. I am really vulnerable to stirring up harmful emotions from the past, so I am careful in my selections. But I decided to give it a go. It certainly wouldn't be a book I would recommend to people, as I can think of many books I would recommend before this book, but I really did enjoy reading this book. It was basically a modern murder mystery. The author did a brilliant job of keeping the reader guessing. But beyond that, this book reminded me of the complexities of relationships. It expressed so well the reasons why we all keep these little secrets... and then why those little secrets become big secrets that hurt us or hurt others. I was reminded of the value of vulnerability. I hurt and laughed along with the characters and felt real emotions as I connected characters and actions with my own life. I felt grateful for justice. I felt grateful for truth beyond this world of materialism and sin.

Under the Banner of Heaven is a book about Mormonism, and particularly fundamental Mormons. I learned so much. I really knew very little about the Church of the Latter Day Saints, and I found myself constantly googling things as I read the book. I am so grateful to expand my knowledge of other religions, and this is a religion I knew so little about though I have met a few Mormons in my life. This book sparked interest to know more about Mormons, fundamental Mormons, and other religions, such as Jehovah's Witnesses. It caused me to pause and reflect on beliefs and critical thinking and manipulation and passions and the spiritual world. It reminded me of the power of Satan, which I so often belittle... which in turn reminded me of the power of Jesus, which I even more unfortunately belittle. It made me so grateful for the hope I have. 

In this fast-paced, technology-driven world, don't forget or underestimate the value of reading. Being literate is one of the most valuable qualities we have.

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