Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved books. If there was a sixth love language, mine would be books. From Nancy Drew, Jo March, and Laura Ingalls Wilder, every book I devoured was like a dear old friend. Even now as an adult, I look on favorite childhood characters with fondness and sweet memories.
After listening to a recent podcast episode of a friend of mine, I realized how much I was missing out by not having acquainted myself with Anne Shirley and her adventures at Green Gables. I was very late to the Anne party.
So I began making my way through the book series. In between I watched the made for television mini-series. As I dove into the story of this red-haired, freckle faced orphan girl I was amazed how much I found myself relating to the main character on many different levels.
I could see pieces of Anne's zestful spirit in me. That is the beauty of a well-written story, when we find our own story written into the pages we read.
As I finished the series, I started reflecting on how different lessons and experiences from Anne Shirley's life have a lot of meaning for modern women today.
Making time for creative pursuits.
Anne Shirley never gives up on her dreams on becoming a writer. Her love of words, books, and writing gives her the energy to never let go of her creative dreams. Anne stuck with writing, she never gave it up. She made time for developing her writing skills as a young child when she formed a story writing club with her best friend Diana Barry.
The world is so fast moving, and often women sometimes feel like they have to sacrifice parts of themselves to get it all done or feel like they have to have it all together. As wives, mothers, friends, or professionals sometimes we are so busy doing that we forget to make time for practices that re-charge our spirit.
It is not selfish to make time for your own creative dreams and pursuits. Anne Shirley reminded me that taking time for creativity actually makes me a healthier, more loving woman in my relationships. Making time for my creative dreams makes me a better person.
Surround yourself with lasting friendships.
When Anne first moves to Green Gables, she talks Marilla Cuthbert's ear off on hoping she will soon be able to find a "true, bosom friend" in her new home; a kindred spirit like herself. Anne quickly finds such a friendship in Diana Barry, a young girl her own age from town.
Throughout the years these two have some wild, crazy adventures like Anne accidentally getting Diana drunk on currant wine or Anne dying her hair green. Over the years, they share in each other's hopes, dreams, joys, and sorrows. They share in each other's lives in lasting, rich ways. Diana even names her first-born daughter Anne, in honor of her bosom friend.
We are created as relational beings. Surrounding yourself with true, life-giving friendships is one of the best gifts to receive in life. Allow your friends to challenge you when you need it and love you when you are hurting or going through a difficult time. Intentionally make time for each other, even if its a handwritten note in the mail or a face-time date if you live far apart.
Sure friendship can be messy and awkward at times. But the most beautiful relationships are the ones where we enter into each other's lives. When we share in the beautiful mess of our lives, we see we are never really alone.
Be willing to admit when you're wrong and open to learn from it.
At the beginning of the story, readers see Anne as quite the spit-fire whose equal amount of stubbornness lands her in trouble from time to time. A prominent part of the story is the friendship to blossoming love of Anne and her schoolmate Gilbert Blythe.
Gilbert has loved Anne since their early elementary days, while showing it in funny ways like calling her "carrots" or being competitive in school. He admires her from afar and wants to be her friend. Anne easily brushes him off. As time passes and Anne matures, the two become very good friends. All the while Gilbert is falling deeper in love with Anne. Gilbert is all things the perfect gentleman: selfless, caring, very handsome, and always looking for ways to serve Anne. But Anne doesn't see Gilbert that way and continues to brush off his feelings.
After rejecting a proposal from Gilbert, both Anne and Gilbert takes different paths in life in search of their dreams. Upon retuning home from her first teaching job, Anne learns Gilbert is very sick, near death. Devastated at the news, she reflects and soon realizes she was wrong; that she is in love with Gilbert, that he could only be the one for her. When Anne sees the desire of her heart, she admits her faulty thinking and tells Gilbert. The two become engaged, marry, and live a long, rich life together.
The greatest life lessons are the ones where we can admit our wrong choices and are open to learning from the experience. It took Anne a long time to admit how wrong she was about Gilbert. When her eyes finally opened, she was able to honestly admit her fault and it became an opportunity for her to grow.
Admitting when you are wrong can be hard sometimes. That type of self-awareness takes humility and maturity. Live your life in such a way that you will never be to stubborn to apologize and own up to your mistakes.
Do you have any favorite literary characters from books?
What lessons do they hold for women today living in 2016?