When I met my future husband in college, he never read fiction. To him, fiction was a waste of time, a way to entertain yourself almost as mindlessly as watching television or playing video games. He looked slightly down his nose at how much free time I spent reading novels. And no matter how vociferously I tried to defend fiction reading, he didn’t buy my explanations for a long time. He read non-fiction to be educated, and he just couldn’t believe that fiction might have effects that were both educational and mind-opening as well.
He has changed his mind, however. When he and I were newly engaged, I remember the afternoon he told me that he would like for us to be foster parents one day. I was pretty vocal about my thoughts at the time, which were, "Absolutely not!”. Being foster parents seemed like a risky situation with little to gain. Nothing Micah said that afternoon swayed me in the slightest. Even after becoming friends with wonderful people who had good experiences with foster kids, I still didn’t change my mind. Foster parenting would be hard. It would be complicated. It would be messy and painful. Micah dropped it.
Then, about three years ago, I read The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, and the experience changed my mind about foster parenting almost overnight. A simple, but masterfully told story about a little girl that no one loves and has little hope for her future changed me and the course of my life. A few weeks later, we started the process of becoming foster parents.
Reading can be dangerous. Reading fiction can be risky and life-altering. Maybe it was God that spoke to me through those pages, and maybe it was only coincidence, but that book changed my mind. And having foster kids since then has been hard, and messy, and complicated. But it has been worth it. I’m grateful to Toni Morrison and other gifted writers who write and share their stories with us. And I’m grateful to God, who sometimes speaks to us through art.
I love hearing about the way books and literature have changed, formed and enriched the lives of others. So as we venture together, please contact me at [email protected] if you have any book review submissions or features. I can’t wait to hear from you!