Hi friends and welcome to the Arise, Beloved blog. We have an amazing team of writers behind this blog and our desire is to speak truth into the lies that cripple us and shine light into the darkness that isolates us because we believe that now, more than ever, the Church desperately needs women to be restored so that the world can be set ablaze. Our hope is that you find comfort, solace, and peace in knowing that you are not alone, you are not too far gone and there is ALWAYS hope to be found.
A deep appreciation for reading was instilled in me at a young age. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of my parents reading to me before bed. Each Christmas, my relatives gifted me with more books and asked me which books were my new favorites. In elementary school, I read so many books that I got to attend a pizza party with a few other students.
My sophomore year of high school I was introduced to the Hunger Games series. I brought the first and second books with me to a national dance competition in Orlando. I read at the airport, on shuttles taking us to and from our hotel, at meals, before bed, waiting in lines at Disney World… If I wasn’t dancing or on a roller coaster, I was reading. Some of my teammates were mad at me for reading all of the time, but my argument was, “at least I’m not on my phone!!”
I think that’s when I stopped reading for the sake of reading and instead began reading as a form of distraction that kept me from having to be present to other people.
By the time I was able to differentiate between reading to relax and enjoy myself and reading to isolate myself, I was in college and didn’t have time to read. Which is hilarious, because I studied English. I spent half my time reading for class and the other half writing about what I read. But if a book wasn’t listed on my syllabus, I wouldn’t touch it. So the second I graduated, I picked up my favorite series from childhood and didn’t put it down. I saw the story with new eyes and remembered the joy of reading.
Reading as an adult has allowed me to rediscover my childhood. Reading is restful and yet stimulating. I spent so much time reading so I could do well in my classes that it became another task I had to get done. Now, reading is what I enjoy after all my tasks are completed.
In a class I took on C.S. Lewis, we learned that he published the Chronicles of Narnia out of order, chronologically speaking. My professor was adamant about reading them in publication order (2, 4, 5, 3, 6, 1, 7). He talked about how reading them in this order restores a sense of wonder in the reader that is eliminated when you read The Magician’s Nephew (1) before The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (2).
This sense of wonder has been essential in the rediscovery of my childhood. Once a book gets exciting, it is so hard for me to put it down, but as a child, my dad and I would only read one chapter of Harry Potter together before bed. How I went a full day without reading more is beyond me. But, when I’m tempted to just stay up all night and read, I stop. I remember to wonder. I remember what it feels like to be a child and only read a chapter a night and I remember the anticipation of and longing it created.
On that high school dance team trip to Florida, I wasn’t letting myself wonder. I also wasn’t making myself be present to the people in front of me. And I wasn’t truly resting.
The women I lived with last year, however, taught me how to rest while I read. They made reading an activity of leisure. As an “introvert” reading helps me recharge, but I realized that I didn’t have to read in solitude, I could do it in the company of others.
I could sit on the couch with a blanket, a cup of coffee, and a book while other people sat in the same room, reading their own books. It was unifying. It was intimate and peaceful and restful.
We definitely didn’t do it all day, but for a few hours during our sabbath, we were able to sit together and dive into different stories while still being in communion.
While my younger self thought I wasn’t being rude to my teammates because I was reading, now I realize that reading around other people can be distracting and isolating. My friends were hurt because I made a book my priority. I gave all of my attention to Katniss Everdeen instead of real people. I got too lost in fantasy and couldn’t focus on my reality.
Okay, so not everyone can relate to my book example. But what is distracting you from reality? If it isn’t a book, is it your phone? Maybe it’s a specific app on your phone. Instagram, that’s mine. Instagram and other social media platforms seek to imitate community life, but it isn’t reality, it often is used to hide parts of reality.
My goal is not to get you to delete instagram, but to ask yourself, what will help you rediscover your childhood and give you a sense of wonder? Instead of spending hours scrolling, what can you do that will cultivate a sense of wonder? Is it painting or gardening or baking? Maybe it’s taking a daily walk or weekly hike. My desire is for everyone to find an activity that helps them rest and brings them in touch with reality.
Books no longer distract me from reality. In fact, they help reorient me back to the nature of being human. In order to be fully present to the people around me, I need to rest; reading helps me rest. As much as I would like for this to be true, we were not made to read alone in bed all day. We were not made to live in isolation. Living with other people can be challenging and exhausting, but we were made for communion!!!
We were created in the image and likeness of God.
God is a communion of three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Because we were made to live like the Trinity, the devil usually tries to isolate us. He whispers lies. He tells us that we are alone. “No one else feels that way or commits that sin. You are alone, no one could love you if they knew that about you. No one wants to be around you, you are exhausting.”
In the name of Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit, cast out the lie that you are alone or unlovable. In the name of Jesus, cast out the lie that you are exhausting, a burden, annoying, clingy. In the name of Jesus, cast out the lie that you are the only sinner or that no one sins like you.
Jesus loves you, a sinner. Jesus died for you, a sinner.
Jesus wants you to live into the reality that you are created in the image and likeness of God.
Jesus wants you to live in communion with others. Jesus also wants you to rest well and to find activities that will reawaken your sense of wonder.