Crooked Little People

I just finished Barbara Kingsolver’s novel The Poisonwood Bible about a missionary and his family in the Belgium Congo in 1959 for my book club. The novel portrays a missionary so bent on his own way that he is insensitive to the culture and customs of the native people and ultimately devastates his entire family. The story is told from the perspectives of his wife and four daughters and how each of them copes with the weight of life in the Congo and tragedy. I borrowed my sister’s copy of this book. Lucky for me, she wrote her junior research paper on the book many years ago. Her tattered copy still has its highlights and numerous post-it notes. It’s always interesting to me to borrow a book and note what the previous reader thought was profound as made evident by the bent pages, underlined portions or highlighted passages. As I was nearing the end of the novel, I found the following quote:

“Tall and straight I may appear, but I will always be Ada inside. A crooked little person trying to tell the truth. The power is in the balance: we are our injuries, as much as we are our successes.”

I loved this quote. But maybe what I loved more was that my sister wrote “Christian” below the passage. Aren’t we all just “crooked little people” trying to tell the truth? We may portray an image to the world but on the inside we are ourselves. God sees that. Truthfully, don’t we want Him to know us? At heart we are sinful and evil but it is the balance that Kingsolver wrote about that is the key. If we focus too much on our injuries or sins we neglect to rejoice in our successes which fuel us to continue to move forward with whatever God has called for each of us individually as well as corporately (sanctification and proclaiming the Gospel). We must keep trying to tell the truth and find power in the balance of all the injuries and successes – even if we are “crooked little people.”


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