A Confession: Jane Austen & Joshua the Warrior

I’m gonna be real with you.

In the last week, I’ve watched five movies that were based on Jane Austen books. In the last month, I’ve seen two or three more. In the last few months, I’ve read three Austen books, and I plan to finish her collection in the next few months. This sudden obsession is funny because I have not adored her novels in the past. It’s only been recently that I have found great delight in them. And I think it’s because I finally understand them.

There is a different character for each mood or fancy I am in. When I am anxious, I find Fanny to be kin; when I am self-confident and proud, I seek out Elizabeth. If I am flighty and romantic, or conversely responsible and sensible, I choose whichever of the sisters Elinor or Marianne that I wish. When I feel meddlesome, I learn a lesson from Emma. When I feel very much the old maid and tire of waiting, I seek comfort with Anne Eliot. And when I find myself too much entranced by books and bored with my own life, I laugh at Catherine’s Gothic perspective on life.

I was not mature enough for these women at age 18. Although the characters are about that age, they are at a vastly different point in life than I was. They are looking for husbands when I was looking for a rug for my dorm room. In that era, I would be considered nearing the position of “old maid” at the age of 23. Instead, in my own society, I am quite young to be thinking of marriage, and though most of my friends are doing so already, I find myself in much the same boat as Elizabeth or Elinor or Fanny: waiting to see what happens.

It is satisfying to me that most of these women did not seek out love; no, instead it came to them in the form of a new tenant, or a friend of a friend, or a brother of a neighbor. Or, perhaps it was there all along, as Emma found. Love happened upon them, and they chose to act.

Granted, I understand that real life, especially in this day and age, is much different. We have bars and eHarmony and speed dating. Women are empowered to act boldly and take their lives into their own hands, whether that means family or career or both. But there is something in that Austenian story device: love happened upon these women, and they chose to act. To follow or to say yes or to believe in truth. Sometimes they acted poorly, but they did act.

The sermon last week at church was about Joshua and his desperate plea to the Lord to have the sun stand still. He begged for more time, so that he could finish his battle and save his people. He didn’t ask for more time so that he could sit back and wait for God to deliver him, eating bon-bons in his tent outside of Gibeon (wherever that is). He asked for more time so that he could continue to fight, continue doing his part. God did deliver him, with few giant hailstones that did more damage than Joshua and his men could do. That didn’t mean they stopped, though.

These things relate somehow. It’s an odd analogy, but here it is. We can pray for those things we want, truly desire – spouses, jobs, health. And even if we believe that this burning in our heart for something that we lack is from God, then pray for it, but with the knowledge that it doesn’t mean he is just waiting for us to ask before he gives. Sometimes he waits for us to ask and DO.

So, pray and do. Start walking. Start fighting. Go to a ball or two. Meet that new neighbor with 10,000 a year. See what happens. Pray for the sun to stop, and keep fighting.

Image from http://www.pemberley.com


5 thoughts on “A Confession: Jane Austen & Joshua the Warrior

  1. Good post, Sara! I like the first part about being "ready" to read Austen at this point in your life. I read an article in the Oregonian a couple months ago with that same idea and thought of examples in my own life, so I think it's true! And I like the second part because it encouraged me to remember that God is faithful in providing us with what we need. And he wants us to act faithfully too. Great job, friend. I appreciate you so much!-Martha

  2. i agree with you and martha about timing & jane austen. i tried reading the books when i was in high school and they were dull to me… then a few years later i watched some of the movies and i got addicted to period movies. i love that time era–and how jane's characters are so intense and sometimes out of the ordinary for that time. LOVE.

  3. Martha & Meriah – thanks for your comments! I think there are quite a few books that you need to be a certain age (or maturity) level to truly appreciate. Or maybe it's a different type of appreciation. Regardless, the Austen heroines continue to teach me a lot!

  4. I've loved Jane Austen since I first read her, but I'm going through an Austen phase right now too. I just watched Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice in the past few weeks, read Love and Friendship, listened to a recording of Emma and now I'm listening to Mansfield Park. 🙂 I liked what you had to say about praying and doing. Now, where did I put my invitation to the ball at the neighbors?

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