On sentimentality

I've been thinking about it a lot lately, and I'm realizing more and more: I'm a sentimental person. I'm still deciding whether that is a strong point or a fault. Perhaps it's a bit of both.

One definition of sentimental is "of or prompted by feelings of tenderness, sadness, or nostalgia."

That sums up my existence pretty well, for better or for worse. Sentimentality needs a hefty balance of practicality, in order to make it sustainable, in order to make it useful and to highlight sentiment's strengths. And it does have strengths! There's merit to tradition, and new isn't always better.

There's beauty in following bits of tradition—in making homemade yogurt and sauerkraut, in knitting socks, and in making supper in the slow cooker.

My sentimentality adds color to my life, I think, in the context of tried-and-true routine. Because the reality? With a side of sentimentality, many of the activities I enjoy most are also productive ones.

I like the things I like in part because I'm sentimental. My sentimentality is why I enjoy reading Anne of Green Gables and the works of Jane Austen. It's why I enjoy knitting and hostessing and fika and generalized coziness. It's why I love a long solo walk at the park and a big blue sky.

It's why we had tomato soup in mugs with grilled cheese for lunch today, and it's why my absolute favorite treat is lightly-sweetened cake with coffee or tea. And it's (one of many reasons) why we love stovetop hot cocoa before bed.

Despite the challenges that occur with an overindulgence in sentimentality—be they days of melancholy or over-romanticized expectations—I do believe that for some reason, this is how God made me. As humans, He created us in His image, so the "dreamer parts" of imperfect me hint at a perfect God with big vision. The practical counter is that He is a God who keeps His promises and provides for and cherishes His own. When I'm at my best, I'm reflecting less of me and more of Him.

As such, I think the most useful, most God-glorifying Andrea is a sentimental and practical one—with messy wind-whipped hair, busy in the kitchen baking muffins for Nicholas, knitting a stitch at a time into something wearable and gift-able, ready to give hugs or to pray for a dear friend or a stranger. This is not my behavior all the time, particularly if I live only in the walls of my own head, alone with my sentimentality. But I believe tender purpose and sentiment without selfishness are useful gifts for Kingdom work. So that's where I want to dwell with my sentimentality.

I'll leave you with a quote from L.M. Montgomery in Anne of Avonlea, which not surprisingly, made me feel sentimental:

Anne's horizon's had closed in since the night she had sat there after coming home from Queen's; but if the path set before her feet was to be narrow she knew that flowers of quiet happiness would bloom along it. The joys of sincere work and worthy aspiration and congenial friendship were to be hers; nothing could rob her of her birthright of fancy or her ideal world of dreams. And there was always the bend in the road! "God's in His heaven, all's right with the world," whispered Anne softly.

And because I'm really, truly curious, how do you feel about sentimentality? Where are you on the sentimental-spectrum?

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