This last couple of weeks I have worked in our church library. (I think some little-girl librarian still exists inside of me, the way I have burned with a passion on this project, and the way several books from the donation pile have found their way into my home.) Well, it is not a church library, it is more of a crowded cast-off shelving area in one of the most-used rooms of our church: the prayer parlor.
Picture a large group of lovely women meeting together to read a passage of Scripture or muse on a good book, or to share Mom stories. A trio getting together for accountability and prayer. A couple of leaders praying with a new person to the church who is hurting a lot. Conferences or classes trying to meet about serious matters. Small groups planning the future of the women’s ministry.
Now picture the ever-hovering, inconsiderate piles of heavily breathing, noisy-title scattering, dust-ejecting, won’t-you-please-love-me begging, validate-me-with-attention scrounging, perfectly pathetic, utterly overbearing presence of 3 walls of…. BOOKS. Books, threatening to undo the state of the room with their presence alone, like a narcissistic friend who can’t sit back and be there for you, but wants to take up your moment with tears of her own. We’re getting ugly here, but seriously — I am not kidding about how disruptive these books were to me.
This is the first room I ever visited in the church aside from the sanctuary to hang out with other singles for the first time. It’s where a lot of my hurts in life got prayed over as I attempted to become a healthier person. When I got married, this is the room where my husband and I escaped for a few moments after our ceremony. Thanks to my Mother and her sister, my Aunt, it became a very sweet moment with candles and scattered marbles in our wedding colors. The lights were low and it was impossible to see… THE SHELVES — my God, the shelves! I am so glad — that would have detracted… maybe… from our reverie. The dusty shelves, stacked with decomposing books, which at some point in the past decade got sorted into a frustrated grouping by subject. Thankfully, that is no more.
With the “snip-snip, bye-bye” sort of permission from our pastor over Communications — I can picture her saying love you long time to the bags of books sitting in our side foyer — I have been on a heavenly purging sort of mission that every introverted, organization addict needs.
What I have discovered is this:
Have you ever heard that statement “Everyone has a book”? That is most emphatically TRUE. In the past several days, I have read so many silly titles… How to Love Yourself. How to Love Others. How to Love God. Books for widows, books for teens, books for pastors, and even one book lovingly but angrily entitled toward the church. Recall those times you’ve heard someone say “That would make a great title for a book.” Well, the book has probably been written. I mean the sort of title where you get the sermon just from reading the spine of the book. Yeah, they are out there already. Have been for a while. These books were beginning to crackle into pieces in my hands because they have been out there so long.
Let’s not forget the drop-offs. People. Seriously. Garfield? I found two aviation books which came home with me for my husband, as he loves that sort of thing. But I don’t see people needing a Wright Brothers brush-up while they’re snotting into a box of tissues. Let’s get real here. Why do we have books for public educators from the 1980s?
I finally gave up and threw a few of the more silly churchy titles into a bag to review in the future, as I have time, just to make a comparison to the more recent materials I have read. Maybe there will be a singular jewel of truth in there somewhere I haven’t heard before in church or in Sunday School or in conversation sometime. And there were definitely some that I am looking forward to reviewing, as the subject intrigued me.
So… it’s humbling, as a writer, to see the amount of effort and publishing that has already happened. I have received ridicule for wanting to write at times. And, loving to sing I’ve been told also that singers are a dime a dozen. It seems the world is out to get us for not being unique. However, God does need the same seeds sown year after year, sometimes. Teens who won’t read a 70s devotional book might read mine. So, we’ll see. I trust God with that.
I was also musing how, for me, being raised in the church has already been conducive to seeing similar books, hearing similar testimonies, or being taught similar sermon points over and over, my entire life (and I’m only in my thirties). The good thing about God is, He can show us new things (through old truths) as we go, and He knows how to keep it fresh. The Word is not for reading only once, twice, ten or a hundred times. His mercies are new every morning… and his mercies include new bread each day, hot out the oven. I prefer mine with warm honey butter and a cup of hot tea or coffee…
I’m so glad. I am so thankful that the Bible, being the oldest story I have ever read, the one I’ve read the most, is still fresh to me now. I’ve learned that when I go to look at a passage again, my brain needs the fire rekindled — it’s not as if I’ve gotten that truth worked out in my life 100%. There is always a new challenge, or an old one that needs reworking, or praise that needs singing again. Thanks God, for not crumbling in my hands, for only getting stronger and clearer to me as time has gone on.
Thoughts? Thanks for reading, Friends.