Saturday, May 4, 2013

My Life According to "A Lady"

OK, I'll admit it.

I am an ever-so-slight, marginal, fringe-dwelling 
Jane Austen enthusiast.

Not the full-in, sink or swim, 
kind of enthusiast. 
But a lover of Austen nonetheless.

It's her characters I adore. 
They are relatable and real. 
They are human and alive. 
And I often find myself in their story.

Jane Austen
photo credit: Jane Austen Game

I have spent my life wishing I could be 
a Marianne Dashwood or an Elizabeth Bennett.
The spirited one.
The vocal one.
The vivacious, social, dreamer of a woman.
The one ready to take the risk.
The one ready to take on life with a laugh and a smile. 
The one who wants to be loved and is not afraid to show it.

Cast me in a Jane Austen film and I would easily be 
Elinor Dashwood or Jane Bennett or Anne Elliot.
The sensible one.
The proper one.
The steady, cautious, mannerly one.
The one who doesn't take much of a risk.
The one upon which others can depend.
The one who desperately wants to be loved but you will find little demonstrative evidence of it.

I have never fully embraced being the Elinor, the Jane, the Anne. 
I have always felt it a kind of consolation prize 
- this being made sensible, planned, and careful. 
As if the real winners were the lively, slightly unpredictable extroverts.

The problem is not that I have yet to attain the personality of  a Marianne or Elizabeth. (As if I could somehow magically refit my inner workings to fill a different box I deem better.)

The problem is I view one kind of personality as superior to the other.

And I know the drill about being who I was made to be. 
I get that. completely. 
I spend many of my waking minutes reminding myself 
I am fearfully and wonderfully made. 
And then I end that sentence with, 
"even if I am an Elinor, a Jane or an Anne."

Sometimes I live as if 
being a reasonable, dependable, responsible person 
is something for which to apologize. 
But it's not. 
For I am who God made me to be.

And I do need to be stretched at times...
to take a risk when I would instinctively shirk back;
to speak a word when I would naturally stay silent;
to laugh at life's difficulties when I tend to furrow my brow.

And I think, as I get to know me better, that what I want has little to do with being someone else. I think, what I want is to passionately live out who I am. I want to embrace the Elinor in me with the passion of a Lizzie Bennet.

And let's face it, one of the biggest risks in life is choosing to be yourself. To take off masks and live authentically makes us vulnerable. But it also is a sign of strength. 

And what I failed to see before, 
was both the Elinors and Mariannes; 
the Janes and Elizabeths 
are all women of strength 
because they choose to meet life as themselves.

And so, today is another opportunity 
to be fully me, fully here, fully alive, fully present. 
And if I can manage that, 
the next time I'm reading Pride and Prejudice, 
I just might see my reflection in more than one Bennet sister.

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