Don’t judge a book

Anna Jackson , Staff Writer

Books are windows into other worlds, perspectives and ideas. They can teach you more about other cultures, beliefs, experiences, but most importantly, a book can teach you about yourself.

I recently finished reading “Rapture Practice” by Aaron Hartzler. Hartzler is one of the authors that will be featured at this year’s Pee Dee Poetry and Fiction Festival, which is why I purchased the book. When taking a break from school assignment, I would read bits and pieces of the book. When I got half-way through, I could no longer tear myself away, and I read until I finished it.

The cover of the book states that it is a “true story about growing up gay in an Evangelical family.” I took that statement at face value and expected to read a story about a teenager’s struggle and suppression of his sexual orientation. Instead, I found myself relating to the experiences Hartzler faced during his adolescence. This book taught a lesson that most young adults can relate to and one day accept – alesson that I had already learned myself.

Hartzler paints a picture of disobeying the rules his parents had set for him. He tells of his internal thoughts of one day no longer being under their control and being able to make his own decisions. This is the story of many teenagers growing up. You just want to be able do whatever you want, whenever you want.

College is one of the first experiences that allows that possibility. College is where I began to make my own decisions. I was able to do the things I wanted to do, and I no longer had to consider what my parents thought was appropriate and what was not. It is also where I able to understand how to formulate my own beliefs and opinions.

I was raised in a Christian family. We went to church every Sunday, and God’s existence was not something to be questioned. This was also true in Hartzler’s family. He and I both found ourselves questioning whether the foundation of our life and faith could all be a figment of a long ago person’s imagination.

After soul-searching, Hartzler and I found different answers. I came to the decision that I believed God existed but that the word of man was not something to be accepted as God’s word. I got to make that decision. I got to choose what I believed based on my own experiences and not based on my family’s believes.

By having my own experiences in life, I became me. I became a person that I am happy to look at in the mirror. I started making decisions considering the feelings of my family but no longer allowing my family to make decisions for me. Freedom found at college and finding my own version of faith may not seem like a big deal, but it was the beginning of becoming the person I wanted to be.

Hartzler did not write a book about growing up gay; he wrote about finding yourself and accepting who you are.

You have to live your life in a way that makes you happy. Do not hide who you are for the benefit of others because in the end, if those people truly being in your life, they will accept the person that you are.