lessons learned

Lent is over today and tomorrow is Easter. For the last forty-six days (though apparently you don’t count Sundays…) I’ve gone without books. I gave them up for Lent, a sacrifice of sorts I suppose. But if I’m being completely honest, I would have to say that I’m pretty sure the main reason I gave up books was just to see if I could. I wanted to test my self-control. I wanted to see what I was capable of.

I’ve learned a few things over the last forty-six days. And all you lucky readers get to hear them:

1. I hate non fiction. Okay, that’s probably not the best way to put it. How about… I can’t read non fiction like I can read fiction. I’ve read some good Christian non fiction over the last few weeks, but that type of literature just does not capture me the same way that reading a good novel does. I would have thought that by now (given all the non fiction I’ve read throughout my education) I was able to read anything. But sadly, I prefer plot and characters to musings and real life.

2. (and this will probably make a few of you wince in shock) I hate reading the Bible. I don’t understand why. It probably makes me a terrible Christian, but it is actually hard for me to sit down and read the Word of God. Some days  I just pick it up on a whim and flip to some random passage. On those days, I feel inspired. But if I plan to read everyday. If I block out a time and say “I’m gong to sit here and read the Bible for an hour,” I get nothing. And its frustrating. I can sit for hours and hours reading a romance novel, but I can’t give God sixty minutes in His Word. I just don’t understand.

3. Taking away one thing that occupies/takes up your time does not guarantee you will spend that time on something productive. Honestly not reading novels is easy if you find other things (blogging, writing, television, movies, shopping) to fill the time you would have spent just reading. I gave up reading novels in order to spend time in God’s Word and prayer. But in reality, I just found other things to do. There is a need for intentionality that I’m not completely sure I possessed when I made the commitment to give up books. I wanted to give up books for me, not for God.

4. My relationship with God needs some work. I’ve realized that its easy to say “I believe in God.” Seriously, anyone can do that. But its something else entirely to commit to having a relationship with God. Just like its easy to say you believe in true love, when in reality the actual relationship can have its own difficulties and complexities. So maybe believing and loving God really isn’t enough. I need to make a concerted effort to live for Him and grow in Him and come to Him. I need to intentionally work on my relationship with God. I can’t keep thinking that just knowing He exists is enough.

5. I love writing non fiction (which is frustratingly ironic, since I hate reading it). I‘ve been blogging for the last forty-six days as a way to try and work through some thoughts on faith and spirituality. I’m not an expert obviously, but this type of writing, a mix of personal and spiritual, is something I think I might actually be good at (please tell me if you think otherwise… I don’t need to delude myself). And I enjoy it. I love seeing my thoughts come to life in front of me and actually make some sense. I think maybe God has given me words as a gift, and I can’t wait to explore it even more.

6. Its okay to be vulnerable and out of control sometimes. Those are the moments when we learn the most about ourselves, about those around us, and about what we can become. God wants us to come to Him completely broken so that He can give us what we need. But we nee to admit we’re broken first, that we aren’t perfect, in control, or invincible. And I’ve realized that I’m none of those things. But God can use me for and make me into whatever He wants. His creations are pretty inspiring.

7. (this last one is mostly because I don’t like even numbers of things, because I’m weird) I need to be more open about my feelings with those around me. Its easy for me to write down my thoughts, to articulate my words after time spent editing and rereading. But I need to learn to feel comfortable speaking my mind without needing the comfort of time to edit. A friend who reads my blog told me a few days ago that he didn’t know I could be so definitive in my opinions, because whenever we have conversations, I’m kind of reserved and don’t really say anything specific. I love that I can write out my thoughts and make them exactly like I want them to look, but I need to learn to express my feelings verbally with the same ease.

Now that Lent is done, I need to read a book. Any suggestions? I already know what the first book I’m going to read is (and I urge you all to check it out!), but I’m up for whatever you guys suggest!

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