The Field of My Own


Oh how I love them.  I’ve never been one to dream about living in a mansion, but I sure have dreamed of having a beautiful library with a large, overstuffed chair in the corner by the fireplace.  I dreamed of this place where I would do all my deep thinking and go on all my best adventures and have all my favorite conversations.

But even despite my perfect little library, I have managed to read 11 books so far this year.  My goal was 12, one each month, but despite the chaotic nature of this year so far, books have been my little oasis, my way of retreating and unwinding. 

While I like a good variety, every so often I read a book that changes me.  Like the most unexpected sunset after a rainy or cloudy day, once a while, I stumble on a book that stays with me long after I close the last page.  I will find myself daydreaming in the shower or thinking of these characters and the futures that author left to my imagination. I will shut my eyes at night and in the space of a few minutes, I find myself swept into their world and their struggles.  The very first time this happened to me was after reading Number the Stars in 7th grade.  Never in my life had I read a book that grieved me as this one did.  It opened up a whole world to me that I had only briefly heard about from school teachers. But, that was just the beginning.  I had yet to step into a Brave New World or know the boys that were once known as the Lord of the Flies.  I hadn’t yet felt the indignation of Scout while reading To Kill a Mockingbird.  I didn’t know the power of jealousy until the world of Othello.   I hadn’t yet wept through Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry.   I didn’t know how much I would mourn Beth from Little Women. I had yet to read the stories of men like Jim Elliot or Dietrich Bonheoffer or Brother Yun or women like Corrie Ten Boom or Harriet Tubman or Dr. Helen Roseveare or Amy Carmichael. These are just a few of the books and people that have stayed with me…books and people that have changed me and challenged me and inspired me. 

Over the weekend, though, I finished another one to add to this list.  The book was The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.  The story itself is not a true story, however, it is loosely based on true situations and people from WWII, and while so much of what I read on these pages was not necessarily new, I found myself thinking about Vianne and Isabelle long after I closed the pages of their story.  I have read some reviewers say that Hannah over-sentimentalizes the gravity of the situations her characters struggle through, but I didn’t find this to be true at all.  I found in Vianne and Isabelle women who confronted me and dared me to see beyond my own vision for my life and my family and even for myself.  Vianne constantly believed and said out loud that she wasn’t brave or strong, and yet her story captivated me to the point that I had to ask myself if I would have willingly done what she did…if I would have willingly risked all that she risked.

But Vianne and Isabelle like so many of the other heroes and heroines from my other books forced me to look at myself in the mirror and ask how much I would really be willing to risk in the face of darkness.  I like to pretend I am so strong and brave, but really I know that deep down I am still so very scared and worried. 

I want to dream of adventure, but most times I am too afraid to actually taste it.

I want to imagine myself brave, but usually when the time comes, I am paralyzed with fear and prefer to keep my head down, focused on the path before me.

I want to show my kids that what we do matters and that we do have the power to bring hope and change and good to the lives of others, but then I get scared of what that will cost them and I change my mind.

At one point, one of the main characters in The Nightingale says of her son, “I pause, knowing how he will feel when he gets this message, how it will upset him.  That’s because I have let him think I am weak all these years…He watched me stand on the sidelines of his life instead of showing him the field of my own. This is my fault.  It’s no wonder he loves a version of me that is incomplete.”

So I have been asking myself the same question over and over again this last week.

“Sara, what are you so afraid of?”

Maybe you aren’t like me, but if I really stop and take time to evaluate so much of my life, I can see that fear is often the thing dictating what I am doing and saying the most. 

“What if it’s too hard? What if he/she thinks I am weak or that my ideas are stupid?  What if I mess up?  What if this whole thing comes crashing down?  What if they don’t want us anymore?  What if we lose our house?  What if we lose our jobs?  What if my kids get sick?  What if I get sick?  What if we don’t have enough money? What if our marriage can’t survive it? What if? What If? What If?”

I could keep going with all the hundreds of other questions we internally ask ourselves each day.  I could mention the times that these questions cause us to take a detour from the direction deep down we want to go…or even more importantly, the direction God wants us to go.   But you know, just as I do, that we are giving way too much weight to these “What If’s?” We are allowing them too much space, and they are literally STEALING from us…robbing from us moments, experiences, love, pain, joy, grief, heroism, change, transformation, growth, and most of all they are stealing from us a life on the field instead of on the sidelines.

The book opened with this line:

“If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.”

How will we ever know what we are really made of if we are always too afraid to go onto the field and play?

How will we know our strength and capabilities, if we never even suit up for the battle?

I know you are scared. I am scared too.  Sometimes I look at this world around me with all of its hurt and pain and darkness, and I get real scared.  I get scared that I will never be able to do enough, so then I just convince myself that the risk is too great, so why bother?

But my friends…there are so many, right in this very moment in time, that aren’t living with the luxury of turning a blind eye to all this darkness. They are living in the middle of hell-holes all over this world, begging, pleading, asking someone to be brave enough to bring some light their darkness and help rescue them.

Vianne didn’t know she was brave because she never had to be.  She lived with the luxury of a husband who loved and protected her, in a small town in France where life was sunny and beautiful and safe.  She was forced to watch that all change in a matter of months, and in turn, she found the strength to do things and take risks that she never could have imagined.

War showed her who she really was.

Most of us are living on the outskirts of the war…those battles that are taking lives and destroying families.  We see it but only as if it were a movie on a screen.  We see it, we may even mourn it for a brief second, but then we turn it off and move on. 

But these books I have read, both fictional and true, I don’t want to shut their pages and pretend that the stories they tell are only meant for my personal entertainment.  No I want their words to absorb into my head and soak into my heart so that they produce change.

I don’t want to wait until I am forced into the war to suit up for battle.

I want to stop living on the outskirts. I want to stop holding on so tight to all that I hold dear.  I want my kids to see a Mama who is willing to take risks and sacrifice for those that need us.

I don’t want my kids growing up thinking that all that they have…all that is good and beautiful and right and true…is only for them.  I don’t want them to feel threatened when others want to taste these things too.  Instead I want my children to be the first in line to pour all of these things out for them. 

I want them to know that being brave doesn’t mean we aren’t scared.  It means that despite being scared, we press on.  We suit up.  We go in.  We feel that at any point our legs will decide to collapse under the weight of what we are being asked to do, but we continue walking anyway.

This doesn’t mean we are careless or stupid or ignorant of the risk.  It means that knowing FULLY what we are being asked to do, we trust that our God goes before us in the battle anyway.  He is the holder and giver of the light.  We are just allowing Him to use us as His beacons of Hope.

We are brave and yet scared.  We are strong and yet unsure.  We go yet we aren’t sure where.  We love and yet we are at times rejected.  We stay even when we want to run. 

We are light to those that are in the darkness.

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Some bits and bobbits about this blog...

This blog is mostly just ramblings by yours truly. I talk about my ups and downs being a wife, mother, and missionary in Guatemala. I have a tendency to get off on "soapboxes" as those who love me say but it is my desire that this blog can be a place of encouragement in each of your pilgrimages with Christ. At any moment if this blog becomes more about me than about Christ, than it will be done and please help me stay accountable. To God be all the Glory, Honor, and Power!

Books I am currently reading...

  • Eight Twenty Eight
  • Interrupted
  • The Connected Child
  • This Momentary Marriage
  • Unbroken

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