I Give You Your Faults


bethany suckrow -i give you your faults-3

“Meg, I give you your faults.”

“My faults!” Meg cried.

“Your faults.”

“But I’m always trying to get rid of my faults!”

“Yes,” Mrs. Which said. “However, I think you’ll find that they’ll come in handy on Camazotz.”


I recently reread one of my favorite childhood novels, A Wrinkle in Time, in preparation for Ava Duvernay’s film adaptation coming out next month. At least 15 years have passed since the last time I read it as a teenager. I’d forgotten a few of the details, but as I read the final pages, I was surprised and grateful for how much of its messages I had absorbed.

I’ve written a lot about deconstructing my faith in the last decade, examining many of the messages of my conservative evangelical upbringing in order to build a faith that’s more flexible, one that leaves room for more possibility. But I have lingering questions about how exactly I got like this–in some ways the exact opposite of how I was raised. I’ve been told countless times that I’m just being rebellious, often compared to a pendulum that my parents pushed one direction, not realizing it would send me in the exact opposite. This implies a certain inevitability that doesn’t tell the whole story of who I am, though. Rebellion in some measure may indeed be inevitable for most teens, but deconstructing and reconstructing an entire worldview as an adult? That requires deliberate work. I’m not flailing around helplessly on a pendulum; I’ve made choices, always with a sense that something greater was guiding me.

But how did I know that there were other choices to make, other ways of understanding the world, other ways of understanding God, other ways of understanding myself?

Did something, somehow leak through the tiny crack in the walls built around me?

What was it that kept my curiosity alive in an environment that told me not to ask questions?

How did I know that my anger was a gift, even though it was often treated as a liability, or worse, a sin?

Rereading A Wrinkle in Time, I felt like I found one piece of that puzzle. Meg is an imperfect girl, fraught with anger and grief she can’t contain, full of curiosity that can’t be quenched, and relentlessly stubborn. She feels like she’ll never belong in the world. But these characteristics are given back to Meg by Mrs. Which with explicit instructions to use them to save herself, her loved ones, and the universe.

It was there the whole time, a tiny seed buried inside me and finally blossoming a decade later:

Your curiosity, your stubbornness, your anger: they are gifts. Use them as tools for survival. Keep asking questions. Fight back against the darkness.

And the universe through which Meg travels to reach this understanding of herself is filled with feminine celestial beings like the Mrs. W’s and Aunt Beast, who help her name the Darkness and the Light. Rereading it, I see feminine depictions of the Divine and a maternal love guiding the universe. More seeds that enriched my theology over many years, though I wouldn’t have been able to articulate that back then.

It turns out that L’Engle was one of the many voices guiding me, helping me navigate my feelings and imperfections along with Meg, and keeping my curiosity alive by creating a universe to explore every divine possibility. My own Mrs. Which.


“Meg knew all at once that Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which must be near, because all through her she felt a flooding of joy and of love that was even greater than the joy and love which were already there.” – Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

Bethany Suckrow
I’m a writer and blogger at at bethanysuckrow.com, where I shares both prose and poetry on faith, grace, grief and hope. I am currently working on my first book, a memoir about losing my mother to cancer. My musician-husband, Matt, and I live in transition as we move our life from the Chicago suburbs to Nashville.
Bethany Suckrow
Bethany Suckrow

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  1. Madeleine was my mentor so to speak. In the mid-80’s when I finally stopped running from God, Madeleine’s books were the ones I found. I read them all…twice, in order of publication . And I still go back to some regularly. I’m also rereading Wrinkle with my 10 year old grandson and my daughter in law. So when I visit next month we can see the movie together. Madeleine’s granddaughters just published a middle school level biography. Lots of photos and personal stuff the only family would know. Madeleine continues to influence many generations of women. ( I’m at the part where Charles Wallace turns himself over to IT!!!)

  2. I, also, just re-read the book (can’t wait to take my daughter to the movie!). I loved your line, ‘Rereading it, I see feminine depictions of the Divine and a maternal love guiding the universe.’ YES! When I read the Aunt Beast chapter, I sobbed. I realized just how much of the darkness has ‘frozen’ me, and how necessary it is just to allow myself to ‘warm up.’ How we need people in our lives who will sit with us as we heal!

    • Yes, Maggie! The whole chapter with Aunt Beast blew my mind, rereading it this time. It creates so much ROOM for us to imagine God differently, and to see God’s love in many forms, and to even see Aunt Beast and the Mrs W’s as embodiments of God’s love. I really believe that those parts of the book planted a theological seed for me to recognize women and feminine traits as reflecting the Imago Dei, which would have been a pretty radical (and transgressive) concept in my conservative Baptist community. The Mrs W’s even reminded me of the Trinity, and I wonder now if that was purposeful on L’Engle’s part. So fascinating!

      • When I think how ground-breaking it is/was for some of us, then I think of how ground-breaking it was in 1962! As I recall, she had a really hard time getting it published. I’m so grateful she found a publisher, because, yes, it does create ‘room for us to imagine God differently.’ And especially in being able to ‘recognize women and feminine traits as reflecting the Imago Dei.’ LOVE that!! Thank you so much.

  3. I have been experiencing a similar thing. I find myself with all these thoughts/opinions/feelings, but I don’t know where they stem from. And then I pick up a book or movie (“Sarah, Plain and Tall,” “Anne of Green Gables,” etc.), and suddenly the light dawns. I also appreciate that you refuse to be described as the result of an inevitable pendulum. Obviously we all respond to circumstances and upbringing, but it is important to do so with at least some sense of agency.

  4. Taylor Phillips says:

    I’m going to have to add “A Wrinkle in Time” to my reading list.

  5. Madeleine’s writing influenced so many of us.
    It’s wonderful that this movie will bring her creativity to an even wider audience.

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