My daughter has recently finished the Anne of Green Gables series. I’ve been browsing through them, a few pages here and a few pages there, remembering how much I enjoyed them as a young girl. Rilla of Ingleside is the last book. It centers around Anne’s youngest daughter, the self-centered and somewhat spoiled Rilla.
Rilla is fourteen years old, looking forward to her teens; parties and boyfriends and fun await, she is certain. She’s flattered by the compliments and friendship of Irene Howard. The older girl is sophisticated, pretty, and dresses in all the latest fashions. She has a mysterious, sad love affair in her past. She sings beautifully. In short, Irene is everything that Rilla aspires to be.
Then WWI begins. The girl’s life turns upside down. Her brothers enlist in the army. Food is rationed. Rilla joins the war effort: forms a junior Red Cross, raises money for the Allies, adopts a motherless infant whose father is enlisted. She and Irene have a quarrel over a piece of nasty gossip Irene tells her, one that involves Rilla’s adored brother. While Rilla regrets the argument, she is too proud to admit it.
At one point, Rilla must apologize to Irene for the argument. The older girl gives nasty jibes at Rilla’s appearance and other acquaintances, all in the sweetest tones possible. Rilla realizes that, while she and Irene can be friendly, they will never be friends.
“Rilla did not say or think that she had outgrown Irene. Had the thought occurred to her she would have considered it absurd when she was not yet seventeen and Irene was twenty. But it was the truth. Irene was just what she had been a year ago—just what she would always be. Rilla Blythe’s nature in that year had changed and matured and deepened. She found herself seeing through Irene with a disconcerting clearness—discerning under all her superficial sweetness her pettiness, her vindictiveness, her insincerity, her essential cheapness. Irene had lost for ever her faithful worshipper.”
What has changed?
Rilla’s priorities. She no longer values the same things Irene does.
What has changed Rilla’s priorities?
The war, and all that has followed. Sacrifice. Hard work to benefit the war effort. Caring for a child. Worry for those she loves. Realizing what truly matters in life.
There have been things in my life that have changed my priorities. Dealing with bipolar disorder, getting married, having children: all of those have changed my priorities over the years.
How about you? Have you had your priorities change at some point in your life? What changed?
(Photo credit: wallyir, morgueFile.com)