A Walk with Jane Austen by Lori Smith is not at all what I expected: It is part travel journal, part memoir, and part Jane Austen biography.
I think that I was expecting more of the Jane Austen and Travel part and not much of the memoir part. Not to say it was bad, just different than I expected. So be warned that this book is not for everyone!
The author shares her journey into adulthood essentially...leaving college, her first job, her first major illness, dating, settling into life as a single person, her relationship with her parents and brother....that sort of thing. My path was opposite of Lori in many ways in that I married very young. In this book, she spends time exploring and accepting being single much longer than she expected and the possibility that is what God's plan for her life is. I really liked that. Not much worth is put into being single nowadays, and I think that has caused a load of issues for individuals and society. As a friend to singles and as a parent, I enjoyed her thoughts...and thought about them too!
Last week there was mild drama in my life because I expressed an opinion that someone in authority of me disagreed with. It was fitting that I read this passage from the book during that time:
In my own life I've had trouble negotiating the balance between selfishness and self-expression, which is the core conflict of the Dashwoods. It is, I think, one of the constant daily struggles in relationships-what to do with your emotions, how much to express them or subject others to them. I feel things more strongly than the rest of my family... I have always wanted to be one of those easy happy people, and I think for a while I pretended to be that way, but I really I am much more of an Eeyore. (page 159)
See how she uses a Jane Austen analogy? The whole book is like that. If you haven't read Jane Austen and seen the movies, this book would make very little sense. I expressed emotions to someone who I thought was a friend and was safe, and it bit me in the butt. Ever been there?
... a Christian culture that is incredibly uncomfortable with lamentation and rushes to happiness, left me with an impression that only positive emotions are good and that everything else needed to be at a minimum subdued and sometimes covered over with smiles and cheerful voices, insincere thanksgiving and praise...
I don't mean to imply that evangelical Christians are emotionally disabled, but there is a strain of evangelism, particularly among women I think, in which anything that isn't happy is viewed as dangerous. I can't abide that anymore....I cannot be part of a religion that doesn't understand lament. (page 160)
That hit home. I know that I have a blessed life with very little to lament in comparison to many but we all have moments (and days...even weeks) where there isn't happiness.
Often we allow people to grieve big things for a time but then we want them to "get over it". We certainly don't want people to grieve long and hard over things we view as small such as the loss of a pet, a misunderstanding between friends or family, or any unexpected changes. People, including myself, offer poor advice, "It was just a dog."
"She never listened to you. You are better off without that negativity."
"You didn't like that job anyway. Good riddance!"
"Plans change. People change. Get over it."
"It is better off this way."
Ugh! I can even hear myself saying those things! From this book, I am taking away a desire to be quiet and purposeful regarding "unhappiness" in myself and others. For Real: I am grieving the situation from last week and its consequences although they would appear petty to many...and that is okay!
Are you having an emotional day? (Week? Month? Year? Lifetime?) It be my blessing to pray for you. Just drop me a comment, email, or message. I will do my best to let you lament and grieve and not just try to fix things....and if I don't, please remind me of this post!