Does what you read really make a difference in your life?
I have been blessed to have in my life a special older lady. Several years ago, it appeared that she often got wrapped up in worry or pulled down by discouragement. I also noticed something else: the books she read seemed like the kind that would make me downright paranoid and definitely grumpy. That realization inspired me to embark on a secret mission. I like to think of it as “Operation Spoonful of Stories” to help sweeten her later years and reach a cure for worry-itis and that pesky discouragement disease.
Step 1 was to keep mental notes of books she liked. Mysteries and non-fiction decidedly won out. Even though she was entering the winter of life, she still liked books that she felt made her brain work and taught her something about the world.
Step 2 commenced with picking out my own set of books that fit the bill of what she might like but were higher up on the happy-and-hopeful scale. Philippians 4:8 seemed liked a good measuring gauge. Maybe she would like historical fiction that was well-researched (and perhaps included a mystery), biographical works of Christian men and women or novels that gave good insights into distant cultures?
Little by little, I moved into Step 3: loaning these books to this dear lady. She read voraciously, so sometimes it was hard to keep up with her. At times she liked a book quite well. Other times it didn’t seem to suit her fancy. During this phase, I discovered that a side benefit of Operation Spoonful of Stories was having something new to talk about during our visits.
All of this started a few years ago. For me, the high point came with her deciding to read the entire Bible. When I heard she was going for that goal, I loaned her a Bible guidebook that I thought she might find useful. (I admit, I had almost gotten rid of it several times over the years because I didn’t use it much.) She loved it! To my delight, she actually gave me and my family little reviews of what she was reading and learning from Scripture.
Watching this friend read all those books was pretty amazing in itself, but I also got to see something even more amazing: gradually, the anxiety faded away, and the downcast spirit became one of the merriest souls I’ve known. Surely, this change is really due to God’s work in her heart, but I like to think it may have something to do with Him using a spoonful of (good) stories to put her on a healthy path as well.
Now I call that a mission success.
What about you? Have you had your own “secret missions” to help someone overcome a hurdle or enjoy the sweeter side of life? Or have you been blessed by someone’s forethought? And, while we are at it, what books do you go to when you need a boost? I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories, so please comment away!