All of us have read something that has changed the entire trajectory of our lives.
It's a bold statement, but I stand by it. Even if you don't classify yourself as a "reader," everyone in the modern age has been shaped by what they have read at some point.
We all have favorite books, but if we really drill down we can identify specific words and moments that changed us irreversibly. John Piper said once, "Books don’t change people, paragraphs do — sometimes sentences". The simple act of reading what someone else has written can change you forever.
I find this completely amazing.
A human can look at a handful of ink and paper and think/feel what the author was thinking and feeling when they wrote it? We take it for granted, but it is a magnificent way we are able to interact with and influence one another.
I thought I would kick things off with a few sentences and paragraphs that have completely changed me:
When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
Viktor Frankl wrote those words in a Nazi concentration camp. These thoughts and more are contained in his amazing, bestselling book, Man's Search for Meaning. In it, Frankl asserts that the men and women who survived the camps were not necessarily the youngest, fittest people. They were the people who had meaning. They had something of utmost significance attached to their survival.
Everyone should read this book every year of their lives.
Not only does it put your life and my life in perspective. But Frankl developed a holistic view of the human condition by witnessing the very worst of it.
It begs the question: What is my meaning? Everyone lives for something. Frankl inspires me to search for my own intentionally and intelligently.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
Poems count, right? Welcome to probably the most mis-attributed poem in the universe. Marianne Williamson wrote this poem, Our Greatest Fear. It is so often attributed to others because everyone quotes it. Because it speaks truth that few of us are able to put into words on our own.
The theme of this poem is that you and I are gifts to the world, and the greatest threat to our gifts being realized is our own stubborn fear. Read the rest of the poem, print it out, and pin it to your cube wall. I think that's pretty standard operating procedure with this piece.
I have printed, memorized, and reflected on this poem. It never stops being meaningful.
Everyone has something to offer this world - not in what they can do for me, but in who they are. Idealistic, I know. Still, I believe this to be true at a core level. I hope it inspires you, too.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
The Bible's a book so I'm counting this, too. Romans 12:2 is another quote that has been printed out and pinned to my wall more times than I can remember.
I can tell you where I was sitting when I read this verse and realized for the first time that faith and reason can and should coexist. They thrive with one another.
I grew up being taught autopilot religion and it didn't appeal to me one bit. I was more than ready to throw in the towel.
If you actually read the Bible, though, Christians and autopilot don't work so well together. We are called to constantly renew our mind. Christians are called to faith in a living God that has us take risks, serve others, and be light in this world. Paul helped me realize this.
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What's a sentence, paragraph, or book that has blown your mind or changed your life? What words caused you to change course? What poem inspired you to be the very best you could be?
Comment below and join the conversation.