I’m usually a straight up Christian fiction girl. I’ll throw in an occasional clean read or inspirational read, but I want to choose it for myself. I like to read Christian fiction, because I want to be encouraged in my faith. I want to be challenged to grow closer to God as I read. I want to read about people who, while living very different lives from me, are making choices based on the Biblical worldview I hold.

When I saw The Enlightenment of Bees by Rachel Linden on the shelf at a local used book store, I was instantly drawn to it. The title alone is enough to peak interest. With equally interesting back cover copy and a Christian publisher, I went ahead and added the book to my stack.

I was a little caught off guard by the story being more what I would consider inspirational or clean reading. I expected Mia’s faith to factor into the decisions she made and how she chose which paths to take. I expected her relationship with God to grow through the challenges and triumphs she faced. And while I realize every Christian book doesn’t have to “preach” to you in an open way, I believe to call it a Christian book, the faith element should at least be present in ways the reader can see.

That being said, I did enjoy this book. Rachel Linden tells an interesting story that does challenge the reader. There were several times I found myself taking screenshots of the pages so I could revisit beautiful, thought-provoking quotes. There are lessons in the pages ranging from caution in shaping our lives around childhood perceptions to realizing people are more than what we see on the outside to being open to taking risks.

One of the most prominent and challenging ideas sparked through Mia’s story is presented through a character named Delphine. It blends with the lessons Mia learns from other women on her journey and provides her the final confirmation of the direction she should go. Saying her good-byes to Mia, Delphine says, “Remember, Mia, your place in this world is the space where your greatest passion meets the world’s great pain.”

For Mia, this means accepting that the thing she’s felt is not enough to give to the world is really the best thing she can give to others. She can be herself and make a difference.

For me, the message is a reminder. While faith may not have played a part in Mia’s decisions, it does in mine. Mia’s story reminded me that God wants to use my passions, talents, and personality to reach out to others with His love. Her journey gave me an outlet to examine my own life and see if I’m doing that faithfully. Even her lack of seeking His guidance was a gentle nudge to seek His plan for me as I look for the paths I should take and which ones I should avoid.

The Enlightenment of Bees may not be what I expected, but it was a well-told story that left me encouraged to let God use me to reach others in need.