I had planned on blogging something about The Hunger Games today, but I've decided not to do so at this point. Apparently, I've been living under a rock for the past few years and did not realize that such literary awesomeness existed. Now that I've joined the rest of the cool readers and discovered this amazing book series, I'm anxiously (very anxiously) awaiting the next book in the series to be available at the library. With that being said, 1) all the cool readers have already read all three books and have already posted their thoughts/feelings about said three books 2) I'd like to have read the whole series before writing anything about it. So right now, I'm just going to say that the first book in the series, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, absolutely blew my mind. I can't wait to read what happens, but I'm going to have to wait, so I guess that technically, I CAN wait.
Moving on now.
I've had the same favorite fictional character since I was in elementary school. Her name is Meg Murray, and if you haven't been introduced to her, then you're missing out on something amazing. The first appearance of this extraordinary person can be found in my favorite fictional book, A Wrinkle in Time by one of my favorite authors (I can't decide if I like her or C. S. Lewis better--all right, we'll call it a draw!), Madeleine L'Engle.
A little side note here, just so everyone is aware. If you've seen the movie/miniseries of A Wrinkle in Time that Disney put out a few years ago, please don't judge a book by its movie. While I acknowledge that a lot of time and effort went into that movie, I have to say that it basically stunk. I have it on dvd because my father bought it for me one Christmas, and I'll watch it occasionally because I like the music and because I want to relive parts of the story without taking the time to reread the book (although it would only take a few hours). But please, if you have seen the movie and think it's horrible (because, well, it is), don't let that fool you. The book is simply amazing.
Okay, moving on again.
What exactly is it that makes Meg Murray so extraordinary? I think it's the fact that she isn't all that extraordinary. In fact, she would consider herself less than even ordinary. When Madeleine L'Engle first introduced Meg, she was a plain, self-conscious, unpopular, angry fourteen-year-old girl. She had above-average intelligence (especially in math and science), but didn't do well in school. Almost everyone misunderstood her, and she even misunderstood herself.
Basically, she was me (except I'm not that good in math and I actually did well in school--except for the math).
Meg also had a little brother who didn't speak very much outside the home. People picked on him and on Meg for having a strange younger brother. I have to say that I could also relate to this pretty well, having a younger brother with high-functioning autism. Today, autism is fairly well-known. The diagnosis of autism is getting scarily common, but back in the mid-to-late 80's when my brother received his diagnosis, it was still a disorder that many people had never even heard of. So people would ask me all the time what was wrong with my brother, and I had to try to explain it because no one knew what autism was. And while I don't think a lot people actually picked on me because of my brother, I think I thought they were picking on me because I was a defensive, angry, overly-protective-of-my-little-brother kid--a lot like Meg Murray.
As I said in an earlier blog, there are many different reasons why people relate to characters. Sometimes I don't understand why a character acts or thinks certain ways, and I find their behavior intriguing. With Meg, it's not like that. I do find her behavior intriguing, but that's because I understand her very well and think I would do things in the same ways.
Meg is called to do things that she thinks are beyond her capability to do. She doesn't do them without first throwing some literal tantrums, which I have been known to do even in adulthood. All of her emotions are on the surface, especially the negative ones.
But then she accepts her tasks with grace, she does what she has been given to do, and she succeeds.
The most interesting thing about Meg's accomplishments is that she didn't have to change in order to do them. She did have to change her attitude, but she herself didn't have to change. The guides on her journey told her to keep her faults, even to stay angry. This was something that I didn't fully grasp until I was probably almost an adult.
For years I didn't like who I was. While I was NEVER a conformist, I know there were so many parts of myself I didn't like and wanted to change. I wasn't as pretty or popular as I wanted to be. I wasn't a people person. I wasn't a natural leader. And I used to think that I was basically useless because I had all these things I didn't like about myself. I didn't think God could ever use someone like me.
I haven't really changed that much (I mean, I do consider myself pretty, but that's the vanity talking). I'm still shy. I'm still not a natural leader. In fact, sometimes it's still a struggle to leave the apartment in the morning--because I know I'll have to deal with people. But Meg is still with me. I still see the person who was scared and angry, hurting and flawed.
Madeleine L'Engle weaved a powerful story through Meg. Meg's flaws didn't change; God used her anyway. My current "life verse" from the Bible (that's always subject to change as stages in life are subject to change) is 1 Corinthians 1:27. "For God has chosen the foolish things of this world to shame the wise; God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the strong." L'Engle used this verse in the story to encourage Meg. It also encourages me.
I'm not strong. I'm not wise. I'm nothing more than a weak fool that God has chosen to use anyway. A lot of people say we're supposed to believe in ourselves. I can't believe in myself. There's not much there to believe in. My worth is in Christ; my hope is in the Lord. That's what I believe in. When I look at Meg, I see someone who shines like the stars because of who she is in Jesus, even if L'Engle doesn't come right out and say Meg is a Christian. It's implied.
In other stories in the series (and even in other stories L'Engle wrote that aren't directly connected to the "Time Quartet"), we see Meg grow and change. She gets married and has kids of her own. She still has some insecurities, but there's so much she accomplishes, so many people she helps. And she started out as an awkward, self-conscious nobody.
God is in the business of using the weak and the foolish. There's hope for all of us yet.