“She’s like a thundercloud, always rumbling.” ~The Book Thief
As the story plays out in The Book Thief I fell in love with the story, even the thundercloud, and found traces of her humanity that I could relate to and understand. Everyone can be described with many words, but sometimes our view of who they are is restricted by how we want to see them.
Some people are just like that, like a thundercloud, stormy and unpredictable. But there is always a reason for the way people act and react. One of my most favorite things to do is figure out why people are a certain way. There is always a story, a reason that will unlock parts of their heart and shed light on God’s fascinating creation. A mystery novel waiting to be figured out, they want you to know them. To let the plot of their life have twists and turns, heartbreak and heroism. Loving people well means taking the time to see them.
The woman who needs to control and micromanage every detail of her life, she’s a spinning top. She spins and spins because she just wants to cover as much territory as she can, she loves with acts of service, she spins until she drops and when she spins she is loving you. She would also love it if you would pick up your own stuff because when you do that you are loving her back. She spins because she has lost something precious to her and if she spins fast enough she won’t have time to cry about what is lost. She keeps herself busy. Don’t mistake her spinning for strength; she doesn’t know how to fall apart. It’s not easy for her. She often has lots of advice for others, but doesn’t know how to receive advice from others, or help. She feels like she has to be a pillar of strength for others, but even pillars crumble. Her intentions are so noble; she is often misunderstood. She is needed and needful and necessary.
The woman who is quiet and taking pictures in her mind, she is a deep ocean and she needs peace to make the craziness of life make sense. She needs room to spread out into deep waters and drink life in, she is actively participating in her life but she’s quiet about it. She longs for the deep, meaningful relationships and would rather have two best friends instead of ten. She retreats if you push her too hard, she’ll dive into her deep ocean and you won’t be able to reach her. Deep oceans require lots of beautiful space, loving her looks like acceptance and giving her room to swim rough waters alone sometimes. If you cut her off when she is trying to find words, she won’t fight you; she just won’t waste her time trying to get you to hear her. Loving her is letting her find words and allowing her to say them without thinking about what you might say next. Don’t mistake her quietness for aloofness, when she feels loved and safe she’ll take your hand and teach you deep things. She is smarter than you know; take the time to listen because when she says something it’s worth hearing.
Then there is the woman who rains words, always talking, always touching, and always trying to bring you into her sunshine. She loves people and is energized by large groups, sometimes she feels like she is too much…but all she really wants is to connect with people face-to-face, to see others and let them see her. She doesn’t like the silence; she doesn’t like to be alone. She finds her worth in the people around her that she loves; she needs words to affirm her and celebrate her. She rains words because she craves words; don’t mistake her energy for confidence. Sometimes it’s just a cover-up for a hurting heart. She is a leader and a cheerleader and she has a million things she wants to do, but sometimes in her dark moments when no one is around she wonders if she is enough or just all over the map. She is a force and a superhero without a cape.
All of these beautiful stories weave together and hold hands with other women; they are all needed, needful, and necessary. Every story vital and worth hearing because underneath all of these layers, and word pictures to describe them, is the heart of a woman who needs to know that how God hardwired her and fashioned her is okay. That nothing is wrong with her, but sometimes she wonders if maybe life would be better if she was more like someone else. Someone who doesn’t thunder, or rain, or spin, or dive into the deep.
What would happen if we just released the thunderclouds, the spinning tops, the deep oceans, and the woman who rains words to love the way God fashioned them? To take who they are and measure it next to God’s word, not roles defined by society and fitting in?
What if we took who we are and just asked ourselves this?
Are you living 1 Corinthians 13 in the best way you know how to today? At the end of the day, I’m only responsible for how I act and how I show love.
13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (NIV)
Some days I do all of these things. I spin and I rain and I dive headfirst into the deep. Some days I am harder to love and some days I love wrong and find it hard to love traits in others. I hang my head low and swallow hard because I don’t really need to do more or be more, I just need to love and let 1 Corinthians 13 be my rulebook.