“What I want to get out of my college course is some knowledge of the best way of living life and doing the most and best with it. I want to learn to understand and help other people and myself.”
-Anne Shirley, Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
I have this childhood tendency to be caught up in flouncy language to mimic that which I’m reading. So if I begin spouting off about a Lover’s Lane and the Lake of Shining Waters, please excuse Miss Shirley, and maybe give me a reassuring smirk to let me know you love me still, too.
It is in my opinion that almost every girl who has encountered Anne Shirley- in literature or TV series- has fallen in love. Either with Gilbert Blythe’s smile or Anne’s delightfully joyous persona, probably a bit of both. I am no exception. I think I watched the movies first, but by ten years old I’m sure I had the 7 books of the series down. (Well, maybe not ten. The point is that I have read the books many times over since then.)
L.M. Montgomery has this knack for describing beauty without being over-bearing. She also perfectly describes the subtleties of the our human dreams- a dance with eternity- just in simple conversations. I am now realizing how much I owe to her as far as me being a student in the art of writing. It’s amazing how much we can pick up without realizing it, isn’t it?
This afternoon, after being busy beyond belief, I finally let myself be lost in Anne of Avonlea. I used to fly through the series with great gusto. This was mainly to continually secure my childhood fancies that Gilbert really did win Anne in the end, despite her proud hopes and blind dreams. Yet in between that driving plot, something more was being fed to me- a story of a teacher who becomes a writer, of someone set apart and joyous despite separations, a girl who becomes a woman, keenly feeling life on the way.
Looking back at those subtle sentences now, with a bit more experience amidst my heart, I realize how much I learned through her. But it’s not that I learned anything “new”, nor that Anne Shirley will teach others exactly what I learned, but that in reading her, I learned how to be more like myself.
What I’ve been shown at university is how much our emotional reactions to things- books, movies, stray conversations- point to who we are. Not to who we think we’re supposed to be, or even who we’ve been “raised” to be… but the person who God has designed us to be. The gifts we’ve been given need to be drawn out and cultivated into something beautiful. We can’t just sit there. We must look at why our childhood heroes meant so much to us… and how they truly point us to our own destinies. God knows what He’s doing in us! He’s just waiting ’til we know it, too.
At one point Jesus told His disciples that they were no longer just servants, but friends. This was because He let them what He was doing in them and others. The how and why. As my mum has said, as we grow older we become much more self-aware. Therefore I think going back to our childhood movies or books or games is a vital journey. Not just for me, the girl who thrives on self-reflection, but for you, too. For when we wonder what makes us unique, we start to see who He’s made us to be.
Simply and utterly, beyond all the gifts, I am a child of my Father. Then, a beloved friend of Jesus. And the best way of living life? That I’ve discovered at least, and what I’ve heard so far, is just being with Him.
So pull out your books and have adventure with the Holy Spirit. He’s more than willing to show you who you are.
[photo credit: here]