I love to read! When I open the pages of a book, I step into a whole new world. For much of my life, I focused on novels, having my imagination set free to vicariously walk through the joys and sorrows of the heroine. Because I experienced so much unresolved trauma – I found safety as the book moved towards resolution. Sadly, believing God really didn’t like me, and needing to feel safe, I had to immediately dive into another book.
Around the turn of the century, someone – I can’t remember who – gave a challenge. If you want to grow as a person and a writer, you must expand your horizons and read books 50 years old. In fact, if you don’t also read books at least 100 years old, you will grow narrow and confined to the superficiality of the 21st century.
Ouch! My focus was on newer books. With determination, I took up his challenge, intrigued by the depth and richness rarely seen in books hot off the press!
As my reading habits changed, the depth of the materials I focused on challenged my ability to think. My attention span was impacted; before, I could only read non-fiction for a few minutes before I needed to escape into a novel for comfort. As I turned from a steady diet of Christian historical novels, which had become an idol in my life, I found myself spending more time in the Bible and my love for Scripture grew. The Lord showed me I used books as my drug of choice – to numb my heart and avoid thinking. Inadvertently, that escape deafened me to the voice of the Holy Spirit to my heart.
It was a curious thing. The less I read of current fiction, the more I hungered to study. Digging deep into the Word, my brain was stimulated. Then the Lord gave me an interest in the brain and broadened my horizons by introducing me to courses and books that helped me gain a deeper understanding of myself, especially in relation to trauma. Life is a process; my journey has had many ups and downs. When convicted by the Spirit and discerning my fragility, I refused to open any book that might tempt me to escape into an alternate reality. Though I still was struggling to survive, I learned to rely more on the Lord.
I’m not saying don’t read modern fiction. The imagination is a gift from God; it is important to learn to use it wisely.
Experiencing Christ healing me, I have learned to read in a whole new way. The other day I completed the autobiography – Mark Rutherford’s Deliverance (1884). When I need to relax with a good fiction, I turn to authors of the past. I just started The Mill on the Floss (1860) by George Eliot and am thrilled by the beauty of her writing. Books are a wonderful way to relax, to grow, and to become more like Jesus.
What is your experience?
My Challenge to you:
Before the year ends, read one book that is 50 years old, or older.
I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a note in the comments:
What books written over 50 years ago have you read?
How have they impacted your life?
What book are you currently reading?
How does it challenge you to grow?