Book Learning

I just finished a book by one of my favorite Irish authors, Maeve Binchy. The book is a collection of short stories called Chestnut Street. Each section is a short story about a person or persons who live on Chestnut Street in Dublin, Ireland.  Sometimes the stories include people from previous stories – men, women, children, couples.  Mostly they don’t.  The quote below came from a story entitled “Joyce and the Blind Date”.

On page 79 regarding the overweight Norman, actor:

Norman had been sure she {Grace} was going to be a well-meaning person who was going to put him on a diet and set him jogging.  He was doubtful. He didn’t listen to her easily.  Gradually, like a dripping tap, her words sank in.  “Stop apologizing, stop joking, forget being the clown who laughs on the inside and cries under the makeup. Like yourself, lad, like yourself – others will take you at exactly the same value as you put on yourself.”…

“You’re different, lad, you’re not like stuck-up people. You’re a fine boy – just let people know you are a fine, decent boy. Stop pretending to be some joke roly-poly without a brain in his head.”

Week by week he’d worked at it. He gave himself tests. Sometimes he failed them; mainly he passed. Go to an audition.  Never mention size, shape, weight, once. Let the other guy tell you that you can’t have the part because you’re too fat…


The main character of the story, Joyce, is a high fashion model.  Rather snobbish and uptight, Joyce agrees to meet friends for icky Greek food. It’s not the first time they’ve set her up at this infamous restaurant, too. Unfortunately, they’ve invited along an atrocious choice: enormous Norman.  Joyce decides to be nice, because she *is* a professional, but she’s so self-centered, she has no idea why in the end she finds Norman oddly appealing. Guess what?  Norman’s confidence in himself, his ability to see through Joyce’s act, and his lack of fawning behavior over Joyce’s overwhelming beauty, draw her in. He intrigues her.

Norman listened to Grace’s good advice, biblical, really, about believing the best in himself.  It changed his life. I like finding God’s truth in other places. I recall this scripture:  Proverbs 23:7.  “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”  What you think about yourself becomes who you are.  Looks like my thinking needs some help.  I want to be who I am in Christ, every day, all the time. If I’m fearfully and wonderfully made, a new creation and being changed from glory to glory, who am I to choose condemnation? I shouldn’t be choosing fear or anxiety, either.  I need to pick faith up and encouragement and love and kindness, and choose them over their opposites.  Changing my thoughts will change my life.


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