A Beautiful Innocence
A couple of weeks ago, two of my friends discovered that I had never read John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. To remedy that, one of them lent me her book and I dove in. I really enjoyed East of Eden and was excited for another journey through my beloved Northern California with Mr. Steinbeck!
However, this book was quite different from what I expected. I think my feelings could be summed up by the phrase I googled as soon as I completed the book: “What is the point of mice and men?”
While I was not the book’s biggest fan, there was one line specifically that stopped me in my tracks. If you haven’t read the book I would recommend scrolling past the rest of this (or maybe I recommend reading it anyway because I don’t know how much you would enjoy the book.)
About halfway through the story, the wife of a character named Curley is killed. No one would have called her an upstanding gentlelady: she flirted with the men incessantly and there were more than a few allusions to her background as a prostitute. But the way that Steinbeck described her body after her death captivated me:
“Curley’s wife lay with a half-covering of yellow hay. And the meanness and the plannings and the discontent and the ache for attention were all gone from her face. She was pretty and simple, and her face was sweet and young. Now her rouged cheeks and reddened lips made her seem alive and sleeping very lightly. The curls, tiny little sausages, were spread on the hay behind her head and her lips were parted”
If I were a high school junior writing a five-paragraph essay on this book, it would be on these lines and these lines alone. My thesis sentence would be something along the lines of “The posture of our hearts and the complexities of our interior lives deeply impact the way we walk through the world.”
This woman’s beauty, simplicity, innocence, and youth had been sapped away by how she viewed and encountered the world. Her anger, woundedness, selfishness, and desire to be seen and loved physically changed her face. But after her soul had left her body, the onlookers could finally see her as she was created to be: peaceful, beautiful, beloved.
Reading these lines made me stop to reflect on how often I let what’s going on in my own heart read across my face. I hope that most of the time, my face reads friendly, kind, warm, and generous because that’s who I want to be. But I know for sure that there are moments and seasons when I am frustrated or disappointed or hurt, and inevitably those feelings come across too.
I don’t want to cast all of the blame here on Curley’s wife. I’m sure she had a tough childhood, as any woman who falls into prostitution likely does. I’m sure that her deepest longing was to be seen, known, and loved, which is the desire of every human heart. But instead of looking to her heavenly Father who loves her and gives her everything she needs, she went about getting it in a self-sufficient way, through manipulation, scheming, and hurting others. And when that didn’t work, she became bitter and hardened and angry.
God desires for each of us to live in the freedom of our daughterhood, the freedom that comes only from trusting in a good, good Father who wants to provide for our needs and give us everything in abundance. His generosity knows no bounds, and I have learned that lesson again and again. But the enemy wants us to think we have to do everything by ourselves, that we are alone, that we have everything to prove. Curley’s wife believed that lie and it shaped her life, her actions, and even her face. Can we have the courage to release those pressures and rest in our Father, returning to the innocence and simplicity He desires for us?
I pray that we can trust in Him completely this week, and lay down any burdens we’re carrying at His feet.
What we’re loving lately:
Ep. 90 | Moving, transitions, and making new friends
- I’ve officially been back in DC for a little over two months and wanted to share some of what I’ve been learning in this time of transition! I share some of what God has been teaching me about making friends, surrendering my plans for His, and giving myself grace in a time of unknowns. Tune in here on Apple Podcasts and Spotify!
- I absolutely love this podcast and this episode in particular was hugely helpful to me! In it, Emily talks about the common phrase “if it’s not a heck yes, it’s a heck no” and invites listeners to stop and think about the times they said yes and no in the past and whether or not those were decisions we stand by or wish we had done differently. I sat down and answered the questions in my journal and it was very enlightening! I highly recommend it if you’re a person who struggles with making decisions sometimes – a true reminder that we can look back to better understand how to move forward.
One song on repeat
- I prefer silence and have a hard time listening to music or podcasts in the morning when I’m getting ready BUT I’ve recently realized that I have a habit of putting on one song on repeat, often for an hour or so, which has a calming effect since I don’t have to mess with a playlist or think about anything. This week, that song was Come Away by Jason Polley. Do you have a fave song on repeat?
- I’m a huge cold brew girly and I recently started brewing my own! I’m using this pitcher and I love it.
Book club THIS WEEK! Yay!
- We’re officially doing it: a SundayMonday book club!! We’ll be doing two Zoom book discussions (in person if you’re in the DC area!) on November 12 (ch. 1-10) and December 10 (ch.11-end!)! Please get He Leadeth Me and sign up here if you haven’t yet!
Pray for All Souls
- This month of all souls is a great opportunity to pray for the souls of those we loved and those we don’t know – these prayers are powerful! I prayed a rosary in my favorite cemetery in DC this weekend, and will try to do so at least once a week this month. Curious why we pray for the dead? This is a great overview!
- For the SundayMonday community!
- For peace in the Middle East
- For a friend who is pregnant!
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Jane was born in Australia, raised in California, and is overjoyed to now call NYC home. She graduated from UCSB with degrees in Political Science and Communication and spent the past two years working in criminal justice reform. She is currently an MBA student at NYU Stern, focusing on entrepreneurship and strategy.