I know this is not the time that I should be picking up a book. Like I don’t have enough to do already. However, I was talking with my sister the other day, in a conversation that ended up being about faithfulness.
We were talking about those situations where everything is normal, and you talk with God, and you see His ways clearly, or if you’re sitting down with your husband, discussing how to handle a parenting situation, and when you’re not in the situation yet, it all seems so plain and simple.
Then you get in a “situation” where you question what you know. You question your decisions, your morals, your previous “sanity”. It’s when the baby is screaming and your plans fall through. It’s when your faith is no longer “fun” and pulls at your emotions.
It was at that point in the conversation, that I brought up my all time favorite novel: Jane Eyre. I did my senior thesis on Jane, and I think I’ve read it a few dozen times. Too many to count at least. I know when it comes to “old girl books” Pride and Prejudice usually comes out on top, but it’s comparing apples to oranges when you compare those two. Pride and Prejudice is hands down the most brilliant romantic comedy. However, Jane Eyre is a Gothic novel. There is haunted castles, mysteries, but most of all (in my opinion) a time of insanity. There is a time when Jane questions everything that she believes in.
It’s really not as dark as all that, but I find the book so challenging to my own life, that I adore reading it over and over again. I haven’t picked it up for at least 2 years now, and after it came up in conversation, I had to start it once again.
The brilliant author, Charlotte Bronte says in her preface: “Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last.” I love that quote.
For those who haven’t read it, Jane is an orphan, sent to a poor school where it is cold, and severe. As she grows up, the school improves because of tragedy, and with her intelligence, and the fact that she has no where to go, she becomes a teacher. She is very pious. Obeying God isn’t something to fool around with for Jane. When she grows restless, she finds a job as a governess, and ends up teaching a little French girl who a was taken in my Mr. Rochester.
Jane and Mr. Rochester (predictably) fall in love, but he has a secret that makes it impossible to for them to be together. When Jane finds it out, she has a choice to make. Does she forgo her morals to be with the one she loves, or does she cling to them, because they are who she is.
What do you do when your faith doesn’t make sense? When happiness, or love in any form is before you, and you have to turn the other way, and really try to remember why.
Jane says something, that I can’t find right now in the book, but it’s something to the effect of: “When I am insane, I must cling to what I knew when I was sane.” You hold on tight to what you knew when you had sleep. When you heard God’s voice so clearly. You hold on tight to your faith until it makes sense again, because it always does.
The whole process of questioning everything you know is so good for the soul. It makes you see which part of your life is convention, and which one is morality. It is completely useless to hold onto convention, or self-righteousness. Holding onto faith, and morals, and the Word, makes your faith real in the end. It’s what you might call faithfulness. Having faith when there is reasoning before you that opposes it.
I could really…really go on and on about Jane Eyre. Obviously. It separates sacrificing for what you believe, and just plain martyrdom (as seen in the next man in her life, St. John).
So as you can see, she has drawn me in again, and since it has been a whole 2 years since I’ve read it, it is time again. There are some things that for which we make time.
P.S. If you’ve never read Jane, you must. The first time I read it, it took me 3 days because it was so good I couldn’t put it down. My life shut down to read it. So beware.