“Brave is She Who Owns Her Story of Desire”
2019 Reading Challenge and Word of the Year
The title is a quote from “Teach Us to Want” by Jen Pollock Michel, and it sums up the theme for my 2019. That may confuse people who have been with me in the past year. It’s true, I’ve had a lot of expectations that were never realized last year, and I have let the unprecedented set backs get to me to such a point that I acted ambivalent and apathetic though I was far from indifferent. How can I say that desire is my defining word for the year?
It’s quite ironic that in January this year, I read Memory Keeper’s Daughter. I stopped on my tracks on the particular line, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. But I want!” The protagonist is a father who lets his wife cheat on him to fill the gap in their family caused by his secret. And while many antagonize him for giving away his daughter with down syndrome, have we not as well said the same words he did at least once?
A few months later, in the early half of the year, I finished Stardust. Tristan goes on a journey to catch a fallen star in exchange for his heart’s desire: a kiss from Victoria. Spoiler alert: My favorite part is when Victoria told Tristan that the real reason she didn’t kiss him was because she was already engaged to Mr. Monday. She still felt honor-bound to Tristan however. To her surprise and relief, Tristan told her that his heart’s desire was that she marry Mr. Monday right away. It still boggles my mind how easy it was for him to give up his heart’s desire for someone he couldn’t have.
And finally, the book to close the year: “Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition, and the Life of Faith” by Jen Pollock Michel
What the first book touches on as a tragedy, the last book fearlessly and unapologetically faces head on with a message of hope: “We sin by wanting too much from God. We also sin by wanting too little… The failure to want may not be contentment at all. It may be cowardice. We could be profoundly afraid to place our bets on God” (Michel, 2014)
I didn’t expect to find a book that would respond to the “Lord-but-i-want” moment in one statement: “What the Mosaic law was powerless to do — to change the human heart — the new covenant, poured out for us will achieve”.
As Ezekiel 36:26 says,
“I will give them one heart. A new spirit I will give them. I will remove from them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes, keep my commands, and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I shall be their God”.