4 Truths I Learned From Anne Frank

Over the last week I read Anne Frank’s Diary. I’d like to say I picked it up with the intention of edifying my mind but, in reality, the foreign teacher’s library has all of twenty books. I browsed over my options and it seemed like my best choice. As I picked it up I couldn’t help but think of Cecily Cardew from Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest when she says, “You see, it [a diary] is simply a very young girl’s record of her own thoughts and impressions, and consequently meant for publication.” Surely Anne’s diary and the fame that surrounds it made it worthy for publication.

It wasn’t long before I was completely engrossed in Anne’s writings. I was expecting the diary to be dark, possibly filled with bitterness at the terrible things that were happening to her. If it had been my diary, I have little doubt it would have been. However, Anne’s diary is far from being dark. It is filled with lessons that have taught me some things I hope to never forget and I thought I would share those with you.

Here are the 4 Truths I Learned from Anne Frank.

1. We are running out of time.

Anne’s struggle with the adults in their hiding place was often painful for me to read. She clearly seeks acceptance and is usually only met with rejection and condemnation. She becomes anxious about her place in the world and she desires nothing more than to be away from it all. Cooped up in that little hideaway, the adults try to gain control over their little piece of the world, and that, by extension, is Anne.

As I read through these struggles, I was reminded that the worst pain often comes from those we love most. We leave our hearts open for their encouragement, their love, and their acceptance. We allow ourselves to be vulnerable and it is often then that we become the most wounded. People are so incredibly imperfect. We constantly run around hurting people unknowingly and knowingly alike. There are so many times in Anne’s story where I just want to scream to each person, “Stop this! You are running out of time!”

…And that made me stop and consider….

What have I been doing or not doing to people as I run out of time?

2. We must live in forgiveness and love.

Shortly after I turned thirteen years old, my little brother was diagnosed with autism. I had no idea what that word really meant, but I knew it would entirely change my life. Three months later my family had packed up our home in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and relocated to the United States. I was miserable. I had lost the only home I had ever really come to love, and I didn’t know what to do. I really struggled to adapt to my new life.

Anne Frank was thirteen years old when her family went into hiding. There were no emails to friends, no long-distance telephone calls, there was nothing. And, yet, she embraced her new life as an adventure. She was grateful to her father for the foresight in hiding them; she was excited about her less than ideal living situation; and she was creative in her attempts to record and enjoy each moment.

I wish I had been half the person Anne Frank had been at that age. Instead of moping, she thought long and hard about the world. And she realized truths that astound all those who read them.

“Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!”

She believed in the good of each person, even despite the ugliness she saw around her. I see a girl whose words were filled with forgiveness of the evil and love for the broken.

3. We must keep on dreaming, never despairing.

I sometimes would have to put Anne’s diary down because I would feel so overwhelmed with sadness. It was not because of Anne’s sadness, it was because of her hope. Anne’s life in the “Secret Annexe” is one constantly filled with hope for a future that we know never came. I was so consumed with the grief of that idea that I almost stopped reading entirely.

It was then that I remembered, in truth, we are all going to die some day or another. Just because I already knew Anne’s death date didn’t mean that her life held any less happiness, hope, or less of a future. Her dreams were “to go on living even after her death.” Anne Frank has lived far beyond her death. She also wisely said, “where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.”

Why would I despair a minute of Anne’s life, when her happiness and hope were so genuine? Why should I despair a minute of my life, when there is so much to gain from a life of dreams, happiness, and hope? There is never a time to stop hoping, to stop dreaming.

4. We must always seek and remember joy.

I won’t pretend to understand why God lets certain things happen. Every day it seems something more terrible, something more painful happens to someone, somewhere. Each trial worse than the one before. It can be so easy to sink into the misery that surrounds us. And yet, I am encouraged by Anne’s faith and courage in God, the world, and people.

A girl who truly went through one of the worst times in the world’s history leaves us with words about the beauty God has given us, not about the ugliness of man. And I, for one, am thankful.

“I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.”

***

What truths have you learned from Anne Frank? Leave a comment below.

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