This post continues my theme of drawing wisdom from Ursula Le Guin’s Orsinian Tales. You can check out some of my previous posts for a more detailed summary of the book.
The story Brothers and Sisters follows two brothers and their sister. Without explaining the story, I again want to share a little of Le Guin’s eloquence in character development. This post is from the same story as my last one, and the idea is only subtly different.
Le Guin describes the sister, Rosanna, listening to a conversation between her brother and a lady friend of his:
Rosanna, by the hearth, listened to them talk. She sat silent, heavy and her shoulders stooped, though of late she had been learning again to hold herself erect as she had when she was a child, a year ago. They say one gets used to being a millionaire; so after a year or two a human being begins to get used to being a woman…
Obviously, I do not know what it’s like to be a woman. As I see it, Le Guin typically does a masterful job of describing what it is to be human, it seems safe for me to assume that she describes women well. Regardless, this seems to be a human truth:
It is awkward to exist.
It is awkward to be an infant after being a nothing.
It is awkward to grow.
It is awkward to mature, to progress from boy to man, from girl to woman.
I’ve been a man for more than a year or two, but I don’t know that I’ve gotten used to it yet. I haven't gotten used to being a father after almost two years or to being a husband after nine years. I’ve been a human for 33 years and it still seems weird to me sometimes.
What are the expectations?
How should I carry myself?
What can I do and what should I not do?
As a man, how do I interact with other men? With other humans?
It is a great kindness that Ursula Le Guin is outright with the truth of this awkwardness. It is freeing to see it stated. It is a little sad that this truth is not stated enough in Christian circles.
If it takes a year or two to get used to being a man or woman, How many years must it take to get used to being a child of God?
How many years does it take to get used to being a new creation?
How many years does it take to get used to the Spirit of Almighty God indwelling your spirit?
Let us sit by the hearth and listen to those who are a little further than us, to those who are used to it. Let us listen to those who understand what it is to be a man, or a woman, or a human. Let us sit and listen to those who are a little more accustomed to being children of God.
Let us humbly acknowledge that we’re not used to it yet.
And let us humbly learn to be what we are.