when i was little, i remember how they told you at church that you could ask Jesus to come into your heart. i thought that sounded like a splendid idea, so i prayed along and from then on, i always imagined him being pint-sized, tacking a “Home Sweet Home” sign up on the inside of my (anatomically incorrect) heart. and, since i was hosting him, every night i’d lay in bed and tell him stories and entertain him and we’d chat. it was really a sweet way to start out with God.

and then, when i got into my later teens i started up again, even though i wasn’t even that into God. but every night i’d have to pray or else i just couldn’t go to bed–it was like brushing my teeth or something; it would nag me until i did it and then i could peacefully fall asleep. well my senior year of college i fell out of the habit when i started dating this new guy who would (yes) spend the night a few nights a week. and once that habit broke, there was no going back.

even as i’ve gotten more involved in church and reading and researching my faith more and more and opening up about it with it to other people, that’s the one element that i haven’t been able to regain. i know i should but i just can’t make it happen with the verve that i used to. kind of makes me wistful.

anyway, the other day i finished reading “the thrill of the chaste” (i will post some of my favorite takeaways here soon), i was ready to pick up my next book and dive in. but something told me to hold off, to not rush into the next step. i did this mostly because i wanted to give that book a chance to soak in. but then, as i was doing so, i realized that what i’ve actually done is substitute reading about god for talking to god. because very rarely am i reading fiction–it’s almost always some sort of nonfiction. for every 3 nonfiction books, i may read 1 fiction. i can recall 7 fiction ones  over the past two years, versus that same number of nonfiction just since spring.

in “girl meets god”, she’s way into reading–at one point she describes her apartment and how it’s one huge library: european and asian history books are in the dining room; american history and christianity are located in her bedroom; other sections are in the living room. now i am nowhere as much of a reader as that (i don’t even read that fast to begin with), but at one point she made a decision that makes sense. she decided for lent, rather than give up pop or chocolate or some sort of edible, to give up reading. she talked about how it was a crutch for her and that fasting from it would bring her closer to god. i thought that was insightful, and i wonder if in my quest to “improve” or “grow”, i’ve skipped over the step that’s bound to help the most because i don’t “have time” for that–i have to keep checking things off the list and making my way. it was almost as though it were a waste, when you have these books that can discern everything for you and can spoonfeed you epiphanies. of course i think others’ insights are important. but i also think i neglected the importance of taking a step back, chewing, swallowing and relishing. and laying out. and listening. and trusting.

so my next book (part of my homework from owen) sits unopened. and for now, that’s a good thing.