I’m still not quite sure if I am brave enough for this post, but here it is anyway. It’s going to require a bit of a back story, so here goes!
I have a life-long love of fiction. Books intrigued me from the start – when my older sister learned to read, I was so jealous that mom decided to teach me a whole year early! There was nothing I enjoyed more than snuggling down to lose myself in the world between the book covers. Tales of adventure, mystery, history, and as I grew older…you guessed it, romance. I ate through entire bookshelves, the library was never fast enough to bring in more, and my family learned to check my reading haunts if I ever was found missing. I lived off of classic literature, oftentimes re-reading my favorites 3-4 times!
Then, in the last year, something disturbing happened. A little something bothered me, starting as an uncomfortable nudge every time I plopped down to read. I easily drowned it out. Then it progressed to an annoying whisper. I found that Kathleen felt the same way and we began to discuss it. The crescendo came slowly but surely and ended with a crash when Kathleen said: “Jen, I think we need to clean up our bookshelves.”. Our talks had climaxed to this point and neither of us could back out now. So, I stood before my bookshelf, stared forlornly at my favorite go-to reads, and then began a ruthless purging. Kathleen can attest to the struggle I had in parting with some of them!
The problem that I was facing was this: “Is this book is teaching and challenging me to be a virtuous woman or is it simply entertaining me?” My literary appetite needed a serious balancing job. Bluntly put, any historical and informative benefit was drowned out in the distraction and discontentment it gave me.
Now, let me get things straight. I still love reading. I still enjoy fiction, and the books I read in those years were great. Our family had guard rails set in place to protect me from the trash out there, and for that, I am extremely thankful. There are some valuable lessons that I learned from those books, and today there is still a number that I would recommend to others. Books by Jean Little, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne de Vries, Louisa May Alcott, G. A. Henty, Gene Stratton Porter, Jane Austen, E.D.E.N. Southworth, Piet Prins, and Elizabeth Gaskell (those were just a few of my top favorites, the list could go on). However, there were some that were not as beneficial and for the time I spent living in a virtual world, I wish I had been more intentional in my reading choices.
Looking back, the result wasn’t as gloomy as I had predicted. I have encountered many books that provide the encouragement and teaching that I need but they are not boring. Maybe that is what I feared most, never being able to fully enjoy my reading time again – what a silly doubt!
So, that is my story. May I encourage and challenge you today to take a look at what you are reading. Ask yourself – “Is this book going to inspire me in being a godly, Christ-focused woman?” “Am I reading this just because it makes me feel good, or gives me an escape?” “Will this book encourage me in my walk with Jesus?” Be honest. Be brave. You won’t regret it!
Know I am cheering you on to the end of complete abandon to Jesus Christ! Next time, I will share some of my new favorite books. 😉
“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31