I love to read. If I could count all the blogs and books and magazines I’ve read, the number would astound me. I’ve read some incredible stories, teared up at the heartbreaking and heartwarming, been inspired by hope and joy and love. I’ve had my breath taken away by stunning writing, sat in awe of the emotions evoked by words on a page, been too moved to continue reading. They’ve caused me to think deeply, given me glimpses of ways of life completely different than my own, sparked conversations I never would have otherwise had.
The gift of being able to read other people’s words is a wonderful one.
It takes great courage, dedication, and sheer sweat to write well, and I am so thankful for those who do.
Yet in all the goodness of words, I have discovered a danger: Reading about other people’s experiences cannot replace having my own.
Reading about food is not the same as cooking dinner.
Reading about travel is not the same as getting on a plane.
Reading about loss is not the same as attending the funeral of a loved one.
Reading about marriage is not the same as walking down the aisle.
Reading about God is not the same as loving him well.
Objectively, I know this. But I don’t always think this way. I don’t always want to believe it.
Maybe, if I read enough books and blogs and magazines, it will make it hurt less when something terrible happens to me or someone I love. Maybe, if I read enough, I’ll someday have the perfect marriage. Maybe, if I read enough, I’ll be a really good Christian.
Words, by themselves, cannot do any of these things. They can inspire, teach, compel–but they cannot do. At some point, my actions have to put feet on the ink.
I believe, very strongly, in the value of reading. Reading other people’s stories is an enriching, life-giving, good thing. But reading other people’s stories instead of living my own is a bad thing. Life will be messy and beautiful and painful and joyous, and no amount of words can live that for me. Reading can teach me about these things, but words are not action.
It’s up to me to give them feet.
Til next time…
p.s. How have you put feet on what you read?