Thursday, June 10, 2010

Long Way Home

There is nothing new under the sun.

Recently I read a book titled Stepping Heavenward: One Women's Journey to Godliness by Elizabeth Prentiss.

Originally written in the late 1800's, this fictional account of a young girl named Kate, is profoundly applicable for women today.

Its written in diary format, but is full of amazing wisdom and grace. So much so that I have marked my copy with pencil, and dog-eared the pages, to near ruin.

Truth be told, I've read this book at least four times over the course of 12 years. Each time gleaning new thoughts and understanding.

I wanted to share a little something I picked up this time around...

(In this scene Kate, now in her mid 20's and a longtime wife and mother, has brought her own mother to cheer up Miss Clifford, an affluent and ailing neighbor who has not ever known God. In an effort to help her  be less self-focused, Kate's mother is teaching Miss Clifford how to sew.)

Mother showed her how to hold her needle and arrange her pattern...
"Make the object of your life right," I heard Mother say at last, "and all these little details will take care of themselves."
"But I haven't any object," Miss Clifford objected, "unless it is to get through these tedious days somehow. Before I was taken ill, my chief object was to make myself attractive to the people I met. And the easiest way to do that was to dress becomingly and make myself look as well as I could."
"I suppose," said Mother, " that most girls could say the same. They have an instinctive desire to please, and they take what they conceive to be the shortest and easiest road to that end. It requires no talent, no education, no thought to dress tastefully; the most empty-hearted, frivolous young person can do it, provided she has the money enough. Those who can't get the money make up for it by a fearful expenditure of precious time. They plan, they cut, the fit, they rip, they trim till they can appear in society looking exactly like everybody else. They think of nothing, talk of nothing but how this shall be fashioned and that be trimmed.
"But I never cut and trimmed," said Miss Clifford.
"No, because you could afford to have it done for you. But you acknowledge that you spent a great deal of time in dressing because you thought that the easiest way of making yourself attractive. But it does not always follow that the easiest way is the best way, and sometimes the longest way round is the shortest way home."

This excerpt stings a bit for a good way.

It encourages difficult questions of myself:

In what ways do I assume to take the shortest and easiest way, even when that way is not true?

In what ways do I allow culture to define who I am?

How do I allow fear to drive me to wasteful thinking? wasteful action? wasteful spending?

What is my chief focus?

It feels good to process these things. Its also refreshing to know that although the course of 150 years says we are struggling with the same issues, we can be victorious, because the Truth stands higher, deeper, wider, ...and is available for all who will take the long way home.

So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed 
and marvelously functioning parts in Christ's body, 
let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, 
without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, 
or trying to be something we aren't.

Romans 12: 5-6

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Cathy said...

I love love love this post. I might just have to link to it, if that's okay.

Kim@stuffcould.... said...

A great post!

Unknown said...

I can't wait to find that book at the library! Thank you for sharing. I am so glad you are talking about this today...something that is so close to my heart. :)
Our value does NOT come from our appearance or the things we have.

LJ said...

I thought of the scripture "man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart" when I read this post. Years ago I heard a sermon at church and the pastor gave everyone a business card that read "one Man, one plan. No comparisons, no complaints". I still look at that card to remind me of what my focus should be. Thanks for reminding me again.

Jewel said...

I read that book as a younger girl (I think when I was 13 or so) and loved it then. It spoke to my heart like nothing else and I still remember different things in it, like this last Sunday I was serving in the toddler sunday school class and I remembered how she met her husband and how he listened to her tell the children about her love for Jesus:) I need to read it again because I forgot the part you quoted and I would love for my daughters to read it as well. I think thinking about it twice in one week must be confirmation of that:)

Gretchen said...

I love how you digest literature and process it out loud. Lovely thoughts, Kell. Evidently, I need another book. :) This post screams gentleness, too. And I see that all over you. Your gentleness is evident to all.