In 1996 the Magnificent Seven of USA Gymnastics inspired little girls everywhere to become gymnasts. Their spirit, determination, and gold medal performance were a joy to watch even before Keri Strugg’s epic vault. Watching as an adult, I couldn’t help reliving my own childhood fascination with the sport. Watching Olympic gymnasts as a little girl, I wanted to join their ranks. I dreamed of one day standing on a podium, accepting an Olympic medal.
There was a hitch in my plan. I had never been in gymnastics. That could be remedied. I have no balance, rhythm, or grace. Those are not so easily overcome. Besides, there was one more issue preventing my Olympic career. I am not built like a gymnast. Growing up, I was thin as a rail and very tall. I was always one of the tallest girls in class. In fact, I was taller than most of the boys. I was much taller than your average gymnast. I was simply not made for a career in gymnastics though I often dreamed of what it would be like to live that life.
The desire to be someone else, to live another life, is one theme in Melanie Dickerson’s The Silent Songbird. Promised to a less than savory man who happens to have the necessary social standing to earn her hand, Evangeline longs to be able to marry for love like those of the servant class. Desperate to escape her circumstances, she pretends to be a mute servant in order to run from her home and unwanted suitor.
As is often the case when we are less than truthful, things don’t work out as smoothly as Evangeline hopes. Written as a retelling of the Little Mermaid, part of Evangeline’s journey is to find out who she is meant to be. Her dreams are complicated when her past and present collide. Evangeline fears the truth will ruin her future chance at love, but she is challenged to trust God with the outcome and accept who He made her to be.
Dickerson does a fantastic job rewriting this classic tale. Not a strict retelling in the details, Evangeline’s story mirrors the themes of the original. Evangeline’s struggles to be who she was created to be also serve as a reminder for each of us. God didn’t just randomly put you on this earth. It wasn’t chance that gave you the DNA that makes you special. Your personality, looks, interests, all of you is intentional. Psalm 139 tells us God planned us before we were conceived. He took time to make you just like you are. He didn’t do it for kicks. He did it for a reason. A survey of all the faithful believers in scripture shows us how God weaves together all of our unique qualities to achieve His purposes in our lives. And we don’t have to worry about whether or not we will like His plan. Jeremiah 29:11 assures us that His plan is to give us hope and a future. When we accept God’s plan for our lives and live the way He instructs us to in His Word, He can and will do amazing things through us for eternity.
By the Book: Read the story of Esther. What unique traits did God give her? How did those traits help her achieve what God had for her? Consider those things that make you who you are. How might God want to use those in your life to impact others for Him?