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As In Literature, Here In Life

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. Peter 1:23 NIV

As I was just applying to scholarships and writing a thousand essays, I had a realization that Jesus was showing up in my writing; that there were threads of Him throughout my sentences weaving a picture that I didn't even know I was saying. I find that that happens more frequently than I think. And I find that that can be true for the rest of my life as well... He shows up when I don't think He will, He shines through me when I don't expect or intend it, He continually surprises me everyday.


One of the essays in particular really stood out to me though. I had to write an essay on a fictional character that I had recently read and connected to, and how they have had/will have a lasting impact on my life. There were a lot of characters that I could have chosen because I read constantly, but I found myself drawn to write about one who experienced great pain and suffering, who dared to dream in the midst of a trial and hold on to hope. I think I wrote about that character because it is reminiscent of the outlook and experience that God calls us to. He does not promise an easy life, nor does He promise us a pain free existence on this side of heaven. What He does promise us though is hope despite it all and the ability to dream beyond our present circumstances.


I think that promise is evident through my essay, which is written below:


I live in two worlds: the real world and a world of books. Over the last year, I have read 25 books and in each one I have glimpsed some part of myself. The books have imprinted themselves on my life through their words and their worlds, their characters and their capabilities. Striking sentences and colorful characters, masterful messages that cut 7 layers deep, and the portrayal of the agonizing human existence make up the composition of my mind and I find myself mystically connected to this second world. I am who I am, yet I am also Elizabeth Bennet, Jay Gatsby, Prince Hamlet, Hermione Granger, The Invisible Man… I am made up of atoms colored by words, connected by sentences, attracted together in paragraphs. I am formed through stories, and am torn apart by characters, by the tragedies that mar the pages.
The sheer capacity to feel, and to feel deeply, that is depicted through Ian McEwan's Robbie Turner is nothing short of moving. There exists this sort of idealization in Robbie’s character in the beginning; something that drives one to want to emulate his optimism, his youthful desire for his story to begin, and his understanding that literature is the catalyst through which one learns how to feel. He understands that “he would be a better doctor for having read literature. What deep readings his modified sensibility might make of human suffering … Rise and fall – this was the doctor’s business, and it was literature's too”. As one whose primary career goal is to become a surgeon, this recognition resonated with me on the same level which undeniably crafted my connection with this book and this character. 
Every war-defined bomb that shook Robbie Turner to the core in Atonement, every achingly devastating letter he wrote to Cecilia from behind enemy lines, every moment he lost with the love of his life because of childhood naivety’s influence… I felt them as if I was there, as if I was living the heartbreak myself. Every time he dreamed of the future, I found myself dreaming too. Every time he hoped for more, for change, for love, I found myself with a renewed sense of hope in my own life. If he could dare to dream and to hold on to hope in the midst of the suffering that is war, then what was stopping me from daring to dream bigger, from daring to expand my capacity for hope? Nothing. Nothing was stopping me, nor could it. For that which is quoted in Atonement from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night rings true: “Nothing that can be, can come between me and the full prospect of my hopes”, or at least nothing can easily sever hope from the one who dares to hold on to it. 
I have expanded. My love of literature has grown. My capacity for hoping, for dreaming, for feeling has increased. I am impacted, for life.

Isn't the same true for life with my Heavenly Father? Aren't I more changed, more impacted, more grown by Him? Isn't the reality of why my hope cannot be severed because of Him, because His hope is everlasting, is eternal?


These realizations and these feelings that I gain from literature go beyond what is simply written on the page in that one book, by that one author. They go deeper... into what my soul knows to be true and into what my Heavenly Father has promised me. I feel so deeply because Jesus does. My heart breaks so staggeringly because Jesus's does. My soul aches for those who are suffering because Jesus does. Literature is simply a catalyst for those feelings. Literature opens my eyes to more of what the world feels, more of what the human soul is capable of feeling, and I feel it too, so deeply, because my Father feels it and He is making me more like Him.


I am not simply "made up of atoms colored by words" from literature, nor am I only "formed through stories", "torn apart by the tragedies that mar the pages" of literature. My atoms are made up of Living Words; I was spoken into existence. I am formed by clay and the Potter continually molds me through the stories I live and hear about others. I am torn apart by the tragedies that this world faces; my heart is shattered by the suffering that others go through.


Yet... I am also knit back together again by the great I Am. I am expanded. He gives me a greater capacity to endure the pain of this world, to hope for better, to dream beyond, and to feel deeper. He equips me to go out into this world, to stop and turn towards those whom others walk by, to sit with them in their suffering, and to shine His light by whatever means He provides.


I am who I am, yet I am also a growing and expanding art form who belongs to an infinitely beautiful Creator. I am who I am, yet I am also a vessel from which He can pour forth His light all over this aching world.


I am who I am because of who He is.

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