Out of the box

Lately, I have noticed a trend in myself; that there are things I was convinced I had experienced and not liked, which I realise now I haven’t even tiptoed into.

This all began when I found my way back to one of my childhood joys – reading! I remember that I used to sneak torches into my bed to later continue reading once lights had gone out. That doesn’t happen so much now, I tend to have to read early evening or I’m too tired; plus, it’s not so fun when you’re not doing it in rebellion to your bedtime – sorry dad!

I loved reading, and I read a lot; but somewhere along the line, I came to the belief that I don’t do classic literature. Not that I remember what turned me off or why, or even if there was such an event. I would have told you that I had tried reading many of them, Pride & Prejudice, Little Women, Jane Eyre. My party line to anything classic that was offered to me was;

“I don’t particularly like them, they are boring.”

Be as it may, I came to the realisation I have not actually read many of them. I’d just created this boxed thinking and that genre was not in that box!

Similarly, this realisation has begun to happen with films. Ask me a month ago if I’d seen Dodgeball and I would have said yes, of course. However, when my brother posted an article about the cast reuniting for a charity match, I realised I didn’t recognise the characters – I haven’t seen it at all. Nonetheless, I would have added to my earlier answer that I didn’t like it. Again, I saw this box I had created of “things Lou Likes”!

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Jane Eyre has sat on my shelf for the last year. I bypassed it many times, “I don’t read that kind of thing,” I told myself. “I don’t like that genre”. Eventually, it went into a box of items to be given to a charity shop, but it never made it there.

On talking to a friend, I recently discovered, I do not know the story of Jane Eyre! I have in fact never even started the book, glanced through it or watched the movie. I have cast judgement on Jane & Mr Rochester without even having said hello! (To be fair, until I started the book, I didn’t know Mr Rochester existed!). I decided there and then, it would be the next book I would read, and I would persevere, and experience the story, withholding judgement until the final page is turned.

The same boxed thinking occurs for me with the Bible too. There are certain sections (Isaiah, Philippians, Romans, Hebrews) where I can just dwell for months. There are others though, like the History books which if you asked me I would have said, I don’t enjoy so much. My opinion differs to that of my judgement to Jane Eyre in that I have read the History books. However, I have not made time to immerse myself in the full story, I just complete the reading. I have cast judgment on sections of the Bible without really experiencing them. I created a box.

Throwback to last summer and you find me on a retreat. The guide started sharing about the life of Elijah. I began to search the Old Testament; “where O where was the book of Elijah?” Finally, I turned to the source of earthly wisdom: Google which directed me to the books of the Kings. Those dreaded History books, the ones I don’t read!

Contrary to my expectation, the way the course guide shared about Elijah enthralled me. He was passionate and knowledgeable and left me wanting to know more, wanting to get to know Elijah myself. I made a plan. I decided there and then, they would be the next books I would read, and I would persevere, and experience the story, withholding judgement until the final page is turned. I’ve now read it twice (but that’s another story!)

Ask me last year if I was going to set a Bible plan in the History books and I would have laughed. Still twice through Kings and I’m loving taking the time to immerse myself in the stories and getting to know ‘characters’ better. More so, I am finding It’s growing me, challenging me, humbling me and experiencing trying something I thought I didn’t like is changing my heart. Having chosen to not read these books, I have missed out on riches. We must not miss the opportunity to know God better because we just don’t like a particular genre of the Bible.

I always think that new year gives us a great time to try something new, get out of that box we’ve made! Here are 5 ways you can step out of the box in 2018:

1. Start or join a book swap
Rather than a book club where everyone reads the same book. At a swap or share, we all bring the last book we read, review it and give it away. It’s one of the ways I try to shake from my go-to genre of books (crime – if you wish to know!). Some books I’ve eventually had to give up – others broadened my literature choices.

2. Make a list of films
Ones you wish you’d seen but haven’t yet – be honest! Save them up for watching in the winter months!

3. Get outside
I love getting out into the countryside, following footbaths, both alone and with others. It’s a great way to discover new people, new places and new routes!

4. Pick a familiar story from the Bible
Dwell in it, immerse yourself, ask for God to bring something new to it

5. Pick a new story from the Bible
Something from a book you rarely read, ask God to highlight what he wants you to hear from it

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