Telling Our Story

The inner tale transforms by reorienting us to new truth and insight, breaking open the hidden holy that dwells in our experience. The word story actually means “to know.” In the act of creating story there is always an event of coming to know. God surprises us with glimpses and truths we did not grasp until we tried to tell the story. As we shape the experience, an “aha!” emerges, a revelation.

— Sue Monk Kidd, Firstlight, p. 19

God’s Surprising Kindness

It is the kindest thing God can do for his children sometimes, to let them fall in the mire. They would not hold by their Father’s hand; they struggled to pull away; he let them go, and there they lay. But when they stretch forth the hand to him again, he will take them, and clean, not their garments only, but their heart, and soul, and consciousness. Pray to your Father, my child. He will change your humiliation into humility, your shame into purity.

— George MacDonald, Wisdom to Live By, p. 6

The Prodigal Father

God is tender — just like the prodigal’s father — only with this difference, that God has millions of prodigals, and never gets tired of going out to meet them and welcome them back, everyone as if he were the only prodigal son He had ever had. There’s a Father indeed.

— George MacDonald, Wisdom to Live By, p. 4

Spiritual Adults

Does it seem inconsistent with the character of God that in order that sin should become impossible he should allow sin to come into the world? Is it not possible that, in order that his creatures should choose the good and refuse the evil, in order that they might become such with their whole nature infinitely enlarged, as to turn from sin with a perfect repugnance of the will, he should allow them to fall? Why would he not, in order that, from being sweet childish children they should become noble, childlike men and women, let them try to walk alone?

— George MacDonald, Wisdom To Live By: Nuggets of Insight from All Collected Works, edited by Michael Phillips, p. 4

Showing Up

As with physical exercise, much of the benefit of prayer comes as a result of consistency, the simple act of showing up. The writer Nancy Mairs says she attends church in the same spirit in which a writer goes to her desk every morning, so that if an idea comes along she’ll be there to receive it. I approach prayer in the same way. Many days I would be hard-pressed to describe a direct benefit. I keep on, though, whether it feels like I am profiting or not. I show up in hopes of getting to know God better, and perhaps hearing from God in ways accessible only through quiet and solitude.

— Philip Yancey, Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? quoted in Grace Notes, p. 39

Not Selfish

The search for happiness is a spiritual quest, but it’s a material quest, too. We want to find meaning and joy in this life on this earth. We can see that the prize we’re after might be considered selfish, but it isn’t a selfish happiness we want.

Happy people do not colonize land that already belongs to other people. They do not drop bombs, exploding lives and earth. Happy people do not lie to our face, stab us in the back, then scamper home muttering self-righteous justifications. . . .

Happiness may be uncool, but our refusal to be happy doesn’t make us more compassionate — it makes us mean.

— Ariel Gore, Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness, p. 31

Hope for Sinners

The concept of sin does not exist so that people who may need therapy more than theology can be convinced that they are evil and beyond hope. It is meant to encourage people to believe that they are made in the image of God and to act accordingly. Hope is the heart of it, and the ever-present possibility of transformation.

— Kathleen Norris, Acedia and Me, p. 114


People who believe they’re victims get to be right. Each experience they have convinces them of that. They don’t open themselves to the lessons, the growth, and the beauty of each situation they encounter. All they can see is their victimization….

People who believe they have powers get to be right, too. Although we know there is much in life we can’t control, we also know we have the power to think, to feel, to choose, and to take responsibility for ourselves and our lives. We’re discovering our creative powers, and our power to love, including our power to love ourselves. We’ve embraced our power to grow, to change, to move forward. We know we have the power to claim our lives and take responsibility for ourselves in any situation life brings. Although life may deal us certain hard blows, we’ve learned to see beyond that. We see life’s beauty, gifts, and lessons, and its mysterious and sometimes magical nature.

On the road to freedom we may have made a stopover. We believed we were victims and we got to be right. Now, our journey has led us someplace else. We know we have powers; we know we have choices. And we no longer need to be right. Just free.

— Melody Beattie, Journey to the Heart, p. 36