The last several months have reminded me that I may just need to slow down. So many books I read are non-fiction and make me think about things like eating more sunflower seeds, the benefits of probiotics, or how to organize the junk drawer.
But, one of these non-fiction books reminded me to read fiction. Sometimes it's hard to figure out “What makes you happy,” but I used to enjoy Jane Austen--so I dusted off a book with three of her works and started with Northanger Abbey.
As an INFJ, it was reassuring to read about someone else's complex feelings in a chapter devoted to the heroine deciding if she should go on a carriage ride or a walk, where the companions and previous engagements were of utmost importance. After Northanger Abbey was Sense and Sensibility. Short chapters and non-smutty work with hard to decipher words and thoughts urged me on to Austen's most famous work--Pride and Prejudice.
At first, I wasn't thrilled. The mother, Mrs. Bennet, was irritating and I remembered reading this before. But, I kept going.
Within the first several chapters, Ms. Elizabeth Bennet, the witty heroine of the work, met the wealthy Mr. Darcy. She found him to be proud and arrogant and developed a prejudice against him. Although he was proud, he kept on being around her, watching her, and trying to converse with her. After Austen-style twists and turns, he shocked her and asked her to marry him.
But, she said no. She told him what she thought he was like. The next day, he handed her a letter describing why he had made certain choices or acted certain ways since they'd known each other. But, she still wasn't sure.
They didn't see each other for half a year, but things kept on happening that showed her what he was really like. He saved her whole family from disgrace by doling out money to a man who was in a shady relationship with her sister so they would marry. Mr. Bingley, his friend who had liked her pretty older sister Jane, came back to woo her-- even though Mr. Darcy had originally pulled Mr. Bingley away from her. And he came to visit. Finally, he asked her a second time to marry him. This time, she said yes.
Timothy Keller, an American pastor, theologian and Christian apologist said, “Jesus is the underling reality to which all stories point, breaking into our world.” Could it be? Did Jane Austen point to Christ in Pride and Prejudice? I believe that in Mr. Darcy, she did.
Mr. Darcy, who was so wealthy, stooped down and fell in love with someone below his class.
Jesus, fully God, became human and loved us so much that he died for us and then came back to life, defeating death.
Mr. Darcy saved Elizabeth's family from the disgrace her sister almost brought upon them, and he saved Elizabeth and gave her a better home.
Jesus saved us from this evil world in which we live (Ephesians 1:7 NIV) and gives us hope of a better, heavenly home.
Mr. Darcy redeemed the situation between his friend, Mr. Bingley, and Elizabeth's sister, Jane.
Jesus redeemed us back to God. When he died on the cross, he took the punishment for the bad things we have done so God can forgive us and we can be his children.
So, if you are a solid Mr. Darcy fan, consider checking out Jesus Christ—a man who rescued you and offers you life. He came down from heaven to die so we can be children of the One who made us, knows us, and most of all, loves us.
To see how writer J.R.R. Tolkien explained the gospel in light of fairy tales, check out:
Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
This whole chapter talks about being a wise wife. If you're a boy, this may sound boring to you, but there are some things you can learn from this, too, even if you have to wait some more years to apply it.
So, girls--This verse says that beauty doesn't last. Even if you're beautiful in your teens, as you get older, you will get wrinkles, and gray hair, and other things to make you 'not beautiful'. This shows us that fearing God—honoring Him, believing in Him, and following Him is more important.
And boys--One of the shows my kids and I enjoy watching is Duck Dynasty. In one of the episodes, Grandpa Phil is telling his teen grandsons to not just look at a girl's appearance (which won't last) but to see if she carries around her Bible and fears God. This is the type of girl he encouraged them to date.
And, whether you are a boy or a girl, you have a Mom. She may not be that beautiful, but if she is following the Lord and teaching you these Proverbs, I think she is probably a woman to be 'greatly praised.' You should tell her thanks for all she does for you and give her a big hug!
Dear Lord, please help us to not only think and care about how we and others look, but how they act, too. Please help us to be kids that fear you and follow you. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Proverbs 30: 11-14
Some people curse their father and do not thank their mother. They are pure in their own eyes, but they are filthy and unwashed. They look proudly around, casting disdainful glances. They have teeth like swords and fangs like knives. They devour the poor from the earth and the needy from among humanity.
One of the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20 is to “Honor your father and mother.” These verses gives you some ways to NOT honor your parents—cursing, or saying bad words, about your father and not thanking your mother. It may not seem like a big deal, but it is the beginning of a dark and bad path. People who are mean to their parents can end up doing other bad things, too.
So, today, say some nice words to and about your Dad. Say “Thanks” to your Mom for all she does for you. God's laws were given to us to show us our need for Jesus. If you've messed up and have not honored your parents, ask God for forgiveness and ask him to help you. That is the beginning of a path full of life and goodness.
Dear Lord, sometimes it's hard to honor my parents. Please forgive me and help me to listen to them, to say nice words to and about them, and to thank them for all they do. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.
Has your Mom or Dad ever been cooking something on the stove when it starts to smoke a lot and they have to turn on the vent fan or open a window to get rid of the smoke?
When you get angry, it's like you start to heat up inside. As you get angrier and angrier, you may want to explode out in frustration, like smoke coming off a pot! If you're a fool, you will do just that, shouting and yelling—venting your anger.
If you are wise, you will wait until you know all the facts to get very angry. Sometimes, it's okay to be angry, but it's important to handle it. Tell the other person what is frustrating you as calm of a voice as you can. Be wise about how you handle your anger!
Dear Lord, please help me when I get mad to handle it wisely and calmly. This isn't easy, so I'll need your help. Help me to show love to those around me today. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Young people who obey the law are wise; those with wild friends bring shame to their parents.
Who you choose to be friends with can make a huge difference. When you have friends that are kind and respectful to teachers and others, you will act like them and that's good.
To “bring shame” means to embarrass. So, if you have “wild friends” that are disrespectful and foolish, it may embarrass your parents and make them feel sad.
The Bible is God's law. Only Jesus could obey the law fully, but if we believe in Him, he gives us the Holy Spirit to live in our hearts. The Holy Spirit teaches us and reminds us about what the law says (John 14:26) and then encourages us to do right.
So, choose your friends wisely and listen to the Holy Spirit in your heart who reminds you to do good.
Dear Lord, please help me choose good friends and to be a good friend. If I have friends that don't know you, please help me tell them about you. Please help me listen and follow the Holy Spirit today. In Jesus' name, Amen.
A loud and cheerful greeting early in the morning will be taken as a curse!
Do you wake up early? This Proverbs tells us how to act in the morning. When you wake up, others may be sleeping.
A curse is something you say when you get hurt or annoyed. So, if you bounce onto your parent's bed very early and say “Good morning! Good morning! Good morning!” they will be annoyed, even though you're trying to be nice. Or, if you pound on the piano or screech into your kazoo, people will get mad at you.
So, whisper or talk quietly in the mornings. And please, save your performances for later in the day!
Dear Lord, please help me show love to other people I live with or leave near by being careful how loud I am in the morning. Than you that you are awake all the time. In Jesus' name, Amen.
As a door swings back and forth on it's hinges, so the lazy person turns over in bed. Lazy people take food in their hand but don't even lift it to their mouths.
Squeak! Squeak! Squeak! Have you ever heard a door sqqquueeeaaakkk as it swings back and forth? This is how a lazy person is—laying in bed and turning from side to side, getting nothing done.
If you have chores to do at home, don't 'squeak' and moan and wonder if someone else will do them for you. Work at them until they are done—and done well. And, laying around is good sometimes, and God gave us hours to sleep, but when it's time to get up, Get up! Colossians 3:23 says “Do everything like you're working for the Lord.” He's in charge of you and He loves you—do your best for Him!
Dear Lord, please help me not be lazy. Please teach me to work hard and to be responsible. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Proverbs 25: 17
Don't visit your neighbors too often, or you will wear out your welcome.
What do you think it means to 'wear out your welcome?'
It's not clothes you wear, it's when people get tired of having you around. It's good to be friends with your neighbors and to know them, but just because you live close doesn't mean you have to do everything together all the time.
Be careful about how much time you spend with others. Make sure they can have family time, too, without you there. Don't call too often to see 'if they want to do something together.' Learn to have fun and enjoy just your family, too.
Dear Lord, please help me to show love to my neighbors by giving them some space and privacy. Please forgive me if I have worn out my welcome with any of my neighbors. In Jesus' name, Amen.
An honest answer is like a kiss of friendship.
In some other countries, each time you greet someone, you put your cheeks together and you make a 'kissing' sound with your lips. It's a way to say hello and to offer your friendship to them.
Giving an honest answer is telling the truth. Telling the truth doesn't always have to be some big deal. It can also come up in day to day living, like when your mom asks you to do something, and you say “yah—going” but you stay there and keep on doing what you're doing for a while longer. Or, if your neighbor friend asks you to come over, but you say “Okay. I just have to do my homework” and you get it done, but then you remember something else you wanted to do and you end up going over much later.
Telling the truth makes people want to be your friend and trust you. Being honest in all the areas of your life is important if you want to have friends and be wise.
Dear Lord, being honest isn't always very easy. Please forgive me for when I haven't told the truth in the past and please help me do this better today. In Jesus' name, Amen.
The father of godly children has cause for joy. What a pleasure to have children who are wise. So, give your father and mother joy! May she who give you birth be happy.
There is a popular quote, “If Mama isn't happy, no one's happy.” Do you agree? This verse says that if you are wise, it will make your Dad and Mom happy and joyful.
One way wisdom is learned is by reading the the Bible. So, when your parents tell you Bible stories and read from Proverbs with you, it's important to listen up! Sit still. Watch them read it to you and listen to what they are saying. Don't talk while they're talking. If you keep your Mom (and Dad) happy, you will be wise and that will make you happier, too!
Dear Lord, please help my parents teach me wisdom. Help me respect and love my parents and teachers as they try to teach me. In Jesus' name, Amen.
"If Mama's not happy, no one's happy!" What Brings You Happiness is a blog designed to encourage you to take better care of yourself so you can take better care of others. Click on the categories below to find how I've dealt with various situations in light of who I am.