Our Glory-girl is a few weeks shy of ten. Raised by Gospel-loving lifelong book devotees, her deep immersion into the world of narrative and literary apologetics was inevitable and, thankfully, easy. She began listening to Anne of Green Gables at night when she was seven, and has now heard the series more times than any of us can count. She, her awareness of self and the world around her, has been shaped in wonderful ways by those late nights with the redhead from Prince Edward Island. Through Anne, Glory felt encouraged to love the world around her, to delight in words and special names for the places we hold dear. She has understood resilience of spirit, and championing those around her because she spent so much time with the feisty, romantic orphan. She also was shaped in a way we didn’t foresee as problematic until this past year—and what it took to rescue her worldview and heart was another beloved tale.
Glory began looking for her own bosom best friend as soon as she met Diana on the Barry’s front porch. She would come to me, cheeks glowing with excitement after getting to sit near a girl at church or playing with a new girl at the park, and declare that she’d made a good friend. She’d talk about the girl, explaining how lovely she was and how she thought she could tell that the girl wanted to be bosom friends. I believed this was a dear, soft introduction to friendships for Glory, and encouraged her to think of thoughtful questions to get to know the girls better, and be grateful to God that she seemed to connect with other people easily.
Slowly Glory did make two good friends over the course of two years; she had playdates with them, attended their birthday parties, and would send silly videos to them sharing crafts she’d made at home, loving the ones she’d get back of baby robins being born on her friend’s farm, or tours of the other girls’ rooms and yards. Glory was content and grateful to have met her bosom friends, and wanted to become pen pals and continue the friendship until they were all old and married and gray, like Mrs. Rachel Lynde and Marilla.
Then, sadly, something changed. One of Glory’s friends seemed to drift away: she stopped responding to messages, stopped responding to letters. Glory faithfully sent her letter after letter one summer, but the friend never answered. Heartbroken, Glory came to me one night on the couch and wept. What had happened? Did something change? What could she do? She had no frame of reference for a bosom friend’s departure, and so Glory no longer understood her story.
I did my best to comfort her; I told her how we should always hold out hope that her friend would want to communicate again, but that maybe it was best to give her to God in prayer. I told her to try and be thankful for the friendship she’d had, and to trust God that He loves her and has her good in mind, as well. Mostly I just held Glory’s hand, and told her I was sorry her heart hurt.
That summer, we were reading the new edition of Pilgrim’s Progress by Helen Taylor to the kids at night. We were all delighted by the illustrations, and enraptured with the story, once again, of the journey a soul makes on it’s way Home to the Father. After a particularly emotional night of reading, when Faithful departs the tale, Glory came to me on her way to bed and said, “Mom, I think I understand it better now. What happened. I feel like Pilgrim, when he wants to keep walking with his friend, but God wants him to walk on his own for a while. It’s still sad, but I get it better now, what God is doing.”
She hugged me good night, shaky-breathing, but remarkably more peaceful at heart.
Have you ever had your kids teach you something so profound in a moment, you sit stunned and silent by the miracle? Glory was right: she understood how to hold those two wonderful books, full of Godly messages, in tension and come through with a stronger faith.
I was in awe, awe that I’d never seen it before, awe that God had used great literature to teach my daughter her place in the Grand Narrative. Anne taught Glory the value of friendship; Pilgrim taught her the necessity of holding it loosely, with gratitude. Her own experience showed her how to hold onto faith in the Great Author in the midst of it all.