Friday, 19 July 2013

Personalizing books and bookalizing persons

I love books. They are easy to get along with. Tim Challies wrote about "A Reunion of Old Friends", talking about the greatness that is books. I am comfortable with personalizing books. Giving them "personhood" status, seeing them as friends, old and new, is something that comes fairly naturally to me.

It's more difficult for me to deal with people. I am what some would call a classic introvert. As much as I love people, they wear me out. Conversation saps my energy. Fellowship leaves me drained. That's not to say I don't love it. I love conversation and delight in fellowship. It's just that for some reason, this is the way I am designed. People make me tired. There are times when I want zero interaction. I need to recharge, so I escape from all forms of social circumstances.

If I never allowed myself to do this, I would burn out pretty quick. However, there have been times when I have escaped into solitude because I was too lazy or indifferent to put any effort in to developing friendships. I have to guard myself against this danger. I love getting to know people, so to help myself to fight against my sinful inclination, perhaps I should "bookalize" them:

1) Don't judge by the cover
It's far too easy to write someone off because of this or that reason. In a lot of ways, humans are snooty beings. We like what we like, and we don't like what is different. We feel threatened by change, we're afraid of the unknown, and we all have our own opinions on what is good and right and beautiful.

We need to remember that difference is okay. Variety is beautiful. Contrast adds loveliness. We need to be willing to see beyond our own preference, to look beyond the "cover", and see the difference for what it is - a wonderful opportunity to see beyond self and to grow in grace.

2) Speed read to get the gist
When reading a book, sometimes it's helpful to read through it really quickly, to get the overall story, to see the development and satisfaction of the plot. As human beings, I think we "speed read" one another when we first meet. We get a sense of someone's character and attitude, of their preferences, because we hear what they're saying, we see their body language, and we just get the overall sense of people. Sometimes we walk away thinking, "That person was really great." Other times we think something a bit less positive, but the fact is that first impressions are real, they come fast, and they often stick. It's not a bad thing to have a first impression, but to get a better sense of the "story", I think we need something more.

3) Dig down deep to get the whole story
Friendships take time and effort. Getting to know people is work. It might come naturally to you, or it might not, but if you genuinely want to know someone, you have to dig down deep. You have to spend time and effort. We often hide our innermost selves, either because we're too proud or too afraid to show it. We need more genuineness, more study, more effort if we're going to get to know people. We also need to be more genuine ourselves. In order to develop good relationships, we have to reveal our realities. That brings me to the final point.

4) Let them change and challenge you
A good book will affect you. It will challenge your sensibilities, argue against your preconceptions, and expand your thinking. A good book will take hold of you and keep you captive. I've read books that have kept me glued to the story from first page to last. These are the books that reach the knitted corners of your soul and touch what is most real.

People can be like that. We can challenge others, and change them, affect them, and cause them to grow. We might not even realize what effect we have on others, but when we are genuine, when we are open, when we are not content with the surface, then we can jump into the depths and see what huddles beneath. And, I think, we'll see that it's so worth it.

"Let love be genuine..." (Romans 12:9)

1 comment:

  1. I'm a choose your own adventure book.


By swallowing evil words unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach. ~Winston Churchill

Smart guy.