Our family has been through a lot in just the first half of this year. First my 19 year old brother-in-law died in a tragic and sudden car accident (when he was traveling home after the wedding of my OTHER brother-in-law). Then just about a month after that, my dad died of cancer. Furthermore, my husband and I have been pursuing an adoption for the past year and a half and, after finally receiving a referral and picture of our new son, we were informed that the foster mother decided to adopt him after all! All of this – plus TWO family weddings (adding new family members and the life changes that accompany that!) – happened within a two month time span. Oh and did I mention that during this two month time period we were also swapping the flu bug and ear/eye infections around to one another? To say we’ve been living in some sort of whirlwind existence is putting it mildly.
Now, I don’t want to share all of the above to elicit pity. That’s not my intention. The opening paragraph is merely that – an introduction. But it’s important to know in light of what I have to say about reading.
With all of this crazy stuff happening in our family, we’ve been a bit preoccupied. You might say that we’ve been a bit overwhelmed and have had to walk away from several projects and plans that we had made for ourselves. However, one thing that I discovered that I could not shelve was reading. Reading is a calm escape, of sorts.
Reading a good book on marriage gave me something to think about when I was in Texas for three weeks with my dad, while my husband Jonathan was back home in Oregon. Reading a book on adoption helped me keep focus when the adoption was unraveling and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Reading ocean picture books to my shark-loving son while he was out sick with the flu gave us a momentary distraction from our sniffles. And reading Hinds Feet in High Places encouraged my spirit when it desperately needed some encouragement.
No, reading is something that I cannot let go of. I find that tucking myself away and feeding off of the words and wisdom of various authors gives me comfort. Now, before you assume that I just secluded myself away entirely, let me assure you that we welcomed the love and support of our church family to help us through these times. However, there were weeks when we either couldn’t see people or they couldn’t see us due to the germs which were hanging around our house and in those times when e-mails and phone calls were all the contact we could have, books were the main source of inspiration.
My husband can tell you that I can grow quite irritable if I haven’t had a chance to read in more than three days. I start to feel antsy and agitated and I crave reading material of any sort. Books to me are sources of strength and nourishment. I knew I needed books but until the experience of the past two months, I didn’t realize how much I truly needed them.
Well-meaning people kept telling me to “keep breathing!” as our family went through these amazing life changes. But the most endearing and understanding comment that spoke most to my heart came from Jennifer (our amazing managing editor here at 5M4B!) who told me, “Keep reading!”
You know what? Reading was EXACTLY what I needed to do in order to process and heal. Processing and healing takes awhile but reading really does help me, personally, get through it. Reading scriptures, reading books, drinking in wisdom, drinking in words, thoughts, ideas for the future, motivational speeches, heart-talk, positive encouragement, receiving instruction and direction on how to focus on truth and pursue it, and the list goes on and on – all of these things were a blessing!
Taking time out from crazy living to just be alone to think and read is an incredible ministry and one that I no longer take for granted. I realize how much books move me and influence me and I’m grateful for this medium of blessing. For that’s what reading is to me — a blessing! It’s one that I not only enjoy, but that I cherish. And so I intend to keep on with Jennifer’s encouraging words to “Keep reading” no matter what. Eventually things settle down and situations change affording opportunity for progress in healing but the thoughts and comfort that books bring can stick with you for quite awhile. Is that melodramatic? I don’t think so. It’s just how I process. We all process things in different ways. Perhaps you cannot imagine taking the time away from all of the above just to READ. But for me, reading was an escape and an oasis during tumultuous times that allowed me to TRULY breathe and just be. And sometimes that was just exactly what I needed to do: just be.
Carrie comes by her book obsession honestly, having descended from a long line of bibliophiles. She blogs about books regularly at Reading to Know.