“Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.”

—Isaiah 55:2 (NIV)

It’s amazing what you can do with just 26 letters.

I recently found myself wandering around a public library looking at various titles (literally only the titles because that’s all I could read), and the atmosphere took me back.

Back to a time when I used to read every scrap of print on a Nancy Drew mystery:  front, back, side, copyright page, reviews, page numbers, etc. Nothing was left unsearched by my eyes and brain.

I feared I might miss something. I figured it had to be there for a purpose—otherwise why would they include it?

You know…I just didn’t feel good about myself if I left something unread.

This was my job.

I even went so far as to cut out mistakes found in the local newspaper and mail them back to them with a complaint! Imagine the person’s face who opened my childishly handwritten envelope.

What a weird kid, they probably thought.

Later, when I worked for that same newspaper as a proofreader, I delighted in reading and finding mistakes. (Thankfully they never connected me to the kid who mailed in typo’s all those years before.)

While my obsessive reading may seem fine for books and newspapers, it even extended to other items—like shampoo bottles and toothpaste tubes. License plates, menus, maps. I loved them all. 

It’s true. I knew exactly what the manufacturer wanted you to do with their product. But, seriously, does anyone really “Repeat” after 
“wetting, lathering and rinsing” ?

Author Anne Fadiman talks about this reading obsession in her book, Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader. I read it many years ago when I had the eye power to do so. In it, she admits to reading a car manual simply because it was the only thing available.

These days, however, I have to limit my reading intake. Vision loss has forced this, but I’ve come to find a hidden benefit: 

I’m now more selective.

I don’t want to spend my “labor on what does not satisfy” (Isaiah 55:2). 

Some questions I ask myself before diving in to any printed material:

Does this have eternal value?

Is it going to grow me as a Christ follower?

Is it going to build a relationship?

Is it necessary?

Is it going to put me in a bad place emotionally?

You get the concept. Being picky feeds your spirit in a better way.

While YOU may not have to limit your reading because of physical issues, remember we all have time constraints. That alone should make us selective. 

Think about this next time you scroll through Facebook or are tempted to dive into something without lasting benefit. 

(The same thing applies to our listening and viewing habits, by the way.)

When you do this, you start to feel empowered.  And you don’t have to wonder why you mysteriously feel nasty, like, What did I just ingest?

You’ve been picky—and that’s a good thing!

Journey Along,