Words are powerful. They can communicate ideas, and ideas can change everything. Every once in a while someone captures a profound idea so well with their words that it hits my brain hard enough to stick and it won’t let go so it ends up becoming part of me. This week I want to share with you a few quotes that have become part of me. The hard part was picking just a few, so you’re likely to see this kind of post again in the future. Here they are:
“There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person.”
― G.K. Chesterton, in Heretics
I think this is a big part of what makes Chesterton’s writing so surprising. He actually sees the things most of us have long since stopped noticing because they are too familiar. And he’s right, of course: if you look closely enough, everything really is interesting. This short sentence has helped me remember to open my eyes and see the world around me.
“Wherever you are, be all there.”
— Jim Elliot, quoted by his wife, Elisabeth Elliot
This is a lot harder than it sounds, especially in the age of mobile phones. But remembering it has helped me many times to refocus my attention on the people and tasks right in front of me.
“The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances”
— Elisabeth Elliot, in Keep A Quiet Heart
It is always tempting to put my hope in changing circumstances, to believe that somehow things will improve around the corner and then I’ll be able to be happy and content. The longer I live, the more clearly I see that Elisabeth was right: a better situation is not what I need most. Jesus is.
“God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there.”
— C.S. Lewis, in his classic, Mere Christianity
That last line blew my mind when I read it the first time, and I’ve never recovered.
My wife, Jessica, has loved books her whole life and reads a lot faster than I do. When she finds a good quote, she adds it to her ever-growing collection. When I thought of doing this post, I asked her to share a couple of her favourites with you as well. Here they are, with her notes:
“I learned the lesson that great men cultivate love, and that only little men cherish a spirit of hatred. I learned that assistance given to the weak makes the one who gives it strong; and that oppression of the unfortunate makes one weak.”
— Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery
I first read Booker T. Washington’s autobiography Up from Slavery four years ago, and this quote transfixed me. Booker T. was born a slave and suffered all the accompanying indignities, hardships, and injustices. Yet he could write near the end of his life that only little men cherish hatred; true greatness comes from cultivating love and assisting the weak. He was one of the greatest of men.
“Looking back, one has tried to count the cost, but I found it all swallowed up in privilege. The cost suddenly seemed very small and transient in the greatness and permanence of the privilege.”
— Helen Roseavere, Count It All Joy
How I want to see my life as Helen Roseavere saw hers!
Are there quotes that have become part of you? Please share them with us in the comments!