"Chasing Fireflies" by Charles Martin is the most recent book I have read. I don't always have the best of luck reading stories written in the first person mode, and indeed, this book gave me a litte trouble at the start...but I wanted to know why it was named what it was. I'm glad I persisted, as it was a thought provoking book....a little slow in action, but highly introspective. And once it caught me....I was caught!!
Imagine growing up not knowing who your dad was...wondering, waiting, wanting...only to find out that he's been there all along! In essence, that's what this book was about...but so much more.
Chase, the main character, describes the not knowing as a hole in his chest. He has one faint memory of his father rescuing him from being run over by a train when he was 3. The rest of his childhood memories are of being passed from one foster family to another, of being mistreated and abused...until he at last lands at "Uncle Willie's"...who we find out much later, is Chase's real father all along! I wonder, how many times did Willie try to tell Chase the truth...only to chicken out because of family skeletons and shame? See, Uncle Willie went to prison...for crimes that his own brother committed - robbery and murder [of their father, his lawyer, and Willie's wife]. And while in prison, Willie's son is supposedly kidnapped and killed...supposedly because Willie could tell that his brohter Jack was lieing, and because the body he had to identify just wasn't his son...but he let Jack think he believed it, for the boy's protection. It took some time [and some pictures of the governor's indiscretions] but once Willie was out of prison...he searched for his son until he found him. But because Jack was still to be feared...Chase grew up knowing and calling his father as "Unc", suffocating because of the hole of not-knowing in his chest, and knowing that he had another name, a real name, that his father used in that memory from long ago.
It (identity) is about 2 questions, Chase decides. And so it is. People spend years asking, "Who am I?" They spend so much time, so much money, so much effort into answering this question - that they don't realize that they have to answer another question first....."Whose am I?" Do I belong to someone? Do I matter? Is there someone out there looking for me, wanting me? These questions are not limited to orphans and foster children, they're just more pronounced in them. And it's not always about human parents...though that has a great deal to do with it. It's a lost soul, a prodigal child, longing for the Heavenly Father...the very one who molded us in our mother's womb, who knew us before we were even conceived.
I once had a heated online conversation with a woman about our spiritual parentage. She argued that we weren't considered one of God's children until we accepted Jesus as our Savior. There is some truth to that...the only way to the Father is through Jesus...and when we accept Jesus' sacrifice, we are permitted into God's presence and adopted into the line of Abraham. But I think there is more to it than that. I think we've always been His kids...but we sold ourselves into slavery...well, Adam and Eve did when they willingly sinned in the Garden...and so their descendants were born into slavery, and some willingly continue to serve the Devil in this slavery...but they/we don't have to...Like the Prodigal, we can come back home. Accepting Jesus as Savior, is accepting that He redeemed us from slavery...that is...He bought us back. It's us acknowledging that we are God's...that we belong to Him...and that we're not ashmed of it and we want to be associated with Him...called by His name.
On a human level, the book is about fathers and sons...and yes, fathers and daughters. Chase was often so focused on his own pain...until his cousin/best friend, the family's "prodigal daughter" Tommye says to him..."You know, you're not the only one with a hole in your chest. Girls get them too. We just fill them differently."
How very true.
There're more thoughts to this...but I've gone on long enough for this post...You guys may never want me to tell you about another book I've read! Of all the books I've ever read...this one is one of those deep ones that have the ability to change a life. Because, even though God isn't mentioned alot...He is on every page.