The Bend in the Road

“When I grow up, I want to be Anne Shirley.”

I can’t tell you how often these words have flashed across my mind. You may have even heard me say them out loud at some point. Of all the characters who shaped me growing up—from Jo March to Laura Ingalls Wilder, Jane Eyre to Elizabeth Bennett, from Nancy Drew to Matilda to Sara Crewe—Anne Shirley has always been one of my favorites. Whenever I face big decisions or difficult teaching days or even a lack of creativity in my writing, I find myself going back again and again to L.M. Montgomery’s books and Kevin Sullivan’s classic 1985 adaptation for comfort and inspiration.

So as I sought out the right words to start off a new writing endeavor, of course I turned to Anne. I found myself in the very last chapter of Anne of Green Gables, entitled “The Bend in the Road.”

In this chapter, Anne’s plans have changed; she’s giving up her college scholarship to stay at Green Gables with Marilla, and she says “When I left Queen’s my future seemed to stretch out before me like a straight road. I thought I could see along it for many a milestone. Now there is a bend in it. I don’t know what lies around the bend, but I’m going to believe that the best does.”

As is so often the case, revisiting a childhood book as an adult only deepened my connection to the characters and the stories. Anne’s girlish optimism in the face of her first real hurdle in life made me smile (oh to be sixteen again!), but for the first time I realized I could actually relate to that sense of optimism instead of being mystified by it.

Can you tell these books have been read and re-read?

The past six months have marked a pretty big bend in my own road—maybe one of the biggest to date. This spring I decided to leave my high school teaching job and look for something new and unknown, stepping out in faith that God would make a way. For a consummate planner who hates any mystery outside the pages of an Agatha Christie novel, this was incredibly difficult.

And yet…

And yet as the months passed, I was surprised to discover that there was a tiny corner of my heart that relished the thought of stepping into the unknown. There was a small piece of me that was actually excited about the bend in the road.

I’d be lying if I said the last year had turned me into a gambling thrill-seeker, but what I do know is that the last few years of trusting the Lord have ever so slowly changed the way I approach big life decisions. Time and time again He has proven himself faithful and shown me that my future is not mysterious to Him, so I am free to look forward to every detour and bend in the road instead of dreading them. In fact, they can bring unexpected blessings more quickly than I could imagine.

Like this space, for instance! I decided that a new season of life needs a new space, so I’ve made the decision to say goodbye to my first formal blogging endeavor and start fresh here. I have loved writing book reviews and book-inspired content for the last few years, but ever since 2021 Book Fifty has fallen into disuse as life got crazier and crazier.

Now though, with a new schedule and some new priorities, I’ve realized that I miss the regular practice of posting content online. My goal with this site is to create a space for myself where I can be a writer first—not a teacher, not a book reviewer…a writer.

That’s why I wrote a few different types of posts before I sat down to draft this one—I wanted to dip my toes back in the water of blogging to see if I still found it enjoyable. Spoiler alert—I did! I’ve felt as inspired as I did in 2015 when I first started writing book reviews, which hasn’t happened in a long time. And I’ve mustered up the courage to share more than just reviews—to share my thoughts and even some poetry. It’s exciting and a little scary!

All this to say, I’m not quite through the bend in the road—things are still a little uncertain. Some days I feel shaky on my feet and question whether or not I made the right choice. But ultimately I know that there is no real risk in trusting the Lord. Our simple obedience in all things is an act that says “I will take this seeming risk because I believe that while I wait to see its fulfillment, the Lord will show me more of Himself.”

It’s easier said than done, of course, but I believe that when we get to Heaven we’ll see that all the risks He asked us to take were really no risk at all—that our minds couldn’t comprehend how safe and secure we really were. And yet I don’t think we’ll realize this with any feeling of shame or chagrin—Jesus won’t rebuke us for our doubts. Instead, it will be the most glorious confirmation of our faith to see Him face to face and say “I knew it! You were with me all along, and you have brought me safely home.”

So while I walk the hard path of obedience in the meantime, I’ll let my friend Anne Shirley be one of the many guideposts pointing me on the way…

“If the path set before her feet was to be narrow, she knew that flowers of quiet happiness would bloom along it. The joy of sincere work and worthy aspiration and congenial friendship were to be hers; nothing could rob her of her birthright of fancy or her ideal world of dreams. And there was always the bend in the road!”

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