Some observations gleaned from “All the Pretty Things”

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Wow. I certainly do dislike it when I tell you I am going to do something and then I don’t. 

I said I was going to share some extra thoughts from the book I am reading on Tuesday and then I ran myself out of time getting ready to head north for physical therapy and my day with the Fab Four. It came down to a choice to respect the confines of time and bail on my promise. 

But it stung. 

So here are a few things I wanted to share from “All the Pretty Things” by Edie Wadsworth. 

And I will add that Russ just happened to pull up a movie on Sunday night that mirrored much of the dark side of life in Appalachia. We watched with such sorrow a movie entitled “Hillbilly Elegy” where many of the demons that Edie dealt with were portrayed in such a talented way by the actors and actresses of this story based on the real life experiences of J. D. Vance. 

Before you decide to watch, I will warn you the language is awful and the situations are very alarming. 

Again I will say that while I did not experience first hand the dysfunction of these two author’s lives, I understand dysfunction in families and I also met up with some of the characters to be found in rural areas around Appalachia. It is a real subculture of America and one that is as foreign to the corn and bean fields of the area in which I now live as is the urban settings that splash across the news from time to time. 

Our country is diverse and in more ways than what popular culture likes to promote. There are deep areas where tradition and the normal way of life are so very different from other areas. 

The sins and shortcomings of humanity are basically the same no matter what your “culture” looks like to the naked eye and I picked up some thoughts from reading that I want to share:

<3 The story of Edie Wadsworth’s upbringing will rake you hard over the coals of reality. I would have walked through fire to make sure our three children were kept safe, well-fed and warm. I never felt more satisfied (still don’t) then when they have eaten a good, healthy meal and are safe and sound under a solid roof. 

It is shocking to read of the ways Edie and her sister and cousin were neglected and malnourished and yet plugged along. I know that in cities, rural areas, small towns and just across the way from where I live, children are often neglected and mistreated. And so it is a sad reality that we can try to forget, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. 

I was convinced as a young mother that any small error in the care I provided our three would result in sudden death at worse and major calamity and scarring at best. It is mind-numbing to read and realize how many, many children go to bed hungry and surrounded by the scars of addiction of the people who should be lovingly tending them. 

<3 While Edie suffered the betrayal of an alcoholic father who loved his drink more than his children or anything else, the horrible experience of a relative who abused her (no gory details provided!! Edie touches on this with tact and discretion which lets you know how painful it was without having to expose things we don’t need to know) was so heart wrenching. 

From the first whisper of the fact that her little innocence was violated, I read with fear each time an adult mentor appeared on the scene. Pastors, coaches, parents of friends…each time I read with dread that this would be another betrayal.

But they weren’t. She was repeatedly blessed by people who were not out to harm her. God provided mentors and surrogate parents who loved her. She had a single mother who loved her and protected her as best she could. 

These people were anchors in her sordid and messed up story that shined and kept her pointing in a direction that would lead her out of the hole the generations before her could not escape from. 

I thought as I would read about each accountable and loving adult of the important role we have to live with integrity. It is incredibly important that we be people of respect and dignity and kindness. We have no idea what child is needing us to show up and be good and stable people in our lives. These people knew what kind of life Edie lived and did not shy away from taking her into their homes and lives and hearts. 

None of us are perfect – but to be a decent human being in some young person’s life is huge. To be consistent as followers of Christ and provide a safe place for others who are struggling is to let Him live through us. 

<3 The last thing I want to share is the insight gleaned as Edie shares openly about eventually destroying her own home and family because of an inner need that was very much like her father’s. 

While her father tried to drown the emptiness inside of him with alcohol, Edie finally realized that she had done the same thing with seeking perfection in her work and grades and even her faith life.  

The emptiness that drove her dad to drink drove her to excel at sports, education and career. She tried to do everything “right” and missed how it is grace and grace alone that saves us. 

I think of how we all have a God-sized hole in us. 

So cliche, I know…but so true. 

We judge the junkie, the addict, the player, the jerk, the rebel, the workaholic, the pious…but we are all prone to fill that hole with something.

We look at those who seemingly have it all together and fail to see that they too are trying desperately to achieve so they will be loved. 

God created us with that hole so that we would seek Him. 

We all have different stories about how we messed up and missed the mark. 

It is God’s desire that we would realize we are incomplete until we find ourselves … by losing our selves and finding Him. 

He is the only one who can feel that aching chasm inside us. 

Through Christ alone, we are finally made complete and whole. 

Restored to the fullness of who we were designed to be. 

<3 

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