What books changed your life?
My sister Emilie just pinned this John Piper quote, “Books don’t change people; paragraphs do, sometimes even sentences.”
It’s completely and totally true, and it made me think back to some of the literature that has changed my life::
Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.
I first read this sentence from The Shorter Catechism in Piper’s Desiring God and it clarified and illuminated my relationship to God. I’ll forever be grateful.
Batter my heart, three person’d God; for, you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, overthrow me,’ and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt town, to’another due,
Labour to’admit you, but Oh, to no end,
Reason your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly’I love you,’ and would be loved faine,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy:
Divorce me,’ untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
When I read John Donne’s poem as a college student, I became convinced that I wanted God even when I didn’t want him. I wanted God to have his way with me.
This was true: and while he spoke my very conscience and reason turned traitors against me, and charged me with crime in resisting him. They spoke almost as loud as Feeling: and that clamored wildly. “Oh, comply!” it said. “Think of his misery; think of his danger—look at his state when left alone; remember his headlong nature; consider the recklessness following on despair—soothe him; save him; love him; tell him you love him and will be his. Who in the world care for you? or who will be injured by what you do?
Still indomitable was the reply—“I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man. I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad—as I am now. Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigor; strongest are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth? They have a worth—so I have always believed; and if I cannot believe it now, it is because I am insane—quite insane: with my veins running fire, and my heart beating faster than I can count its throbs. Preconceived opinions, foregone determinations, are all I have at this hour to stand by: there I plant my foot.”
I read these powerful words from Jane Eyre when I was a very impressionable teenager and I learned something about temptation, feelings, and desires, God, relationships, and my own integrity. It shaped the woman I am today.
Of course, it would be silly to say that these are the only paragraphs that shaped my life. There are a stack of books beside me as I speak that I’m not referring to, as well as all the ones I can’t remember being affected by! Plus, what I really want to hear about is the books that affected you…What paragraphs and sentences changed your life? What words are still stuck in your mind like a burr? I’m really interested to hear!
(Image via Pinterest)