I gave up reading books for Lent except on feast days (Sunday). Forty days without turning the pages of a book, being riveted by story or inspired by the gift an author exhibits in stringing words together. On day one it seemed like a sacrifice, a surrendering I hoped God wouldn’t require of me. By day forty, I realized it wasn’t as hard as I assumed.
Like most things, our fear of outcomes in obedience is often more difficult to conquer than what God asks of us.
Twenty-four hours a week to luxuriate with a book other than the Bible made me realize that sometimes I am shackled by too many choices. In our culture of individualization as a high value, the options leave one second guessing about the “best” among a myriad of options.
What song on my Ipod will inspire my thinking most on my 30-minute walk?
What dress from the collection will make the best impression?
What book will challenge me the most from the stack?
Am I in the mood for steak or seafood from the menu?
Ever order something for dinner and with each bite drawn to your mouth, regret that you didn’t pick what she got instead? Or wish you would’ve spent those precious spare moments reading something different instead of that magazine article?
If we only have one choice, like one book to read for instance, we’re grateful for the opportunity. Sometimes having more gives opportunity to play God with our choices. Instead of contentment, we are left with an endless emptiness that cannot be satiated. That was the revelation during my Lenten fast of books.
On one of those feast days I read Michelle DeRusha’s book, Spiritual Misfit: A Memoir of Uneasy Faith, and I never second guessed my decision. I read it in one sitting. And that is a first time experience for this book lover.
Michelle writes, “God and his unfathomable mysteries did not fit into my everything-has-a-place-and-an-order-and-an-explanation world. What I didn’t quite realize at the time, of course, is that you can’t lay out life in an Excel spreadsheet. I may have preferred a precisely ordered universe, I may have craved structure and control, but that’s not what I was going to get.”
Her self-deprecating humor and stunning honesty leaves left me breathless with laughter and wiping tears from my cheeks as I turned the pages. Paragraphs were read out loud to my family members from the central place in our house — a couch in my living room. A quintessential storyteller who writes with vivid imagery, Michelle shares about unbelief and estrangement from God and how bravely admitting it brings an abiding faith in Jesus.
Self-doubt and faith can co-exist, that is what Michelle shows us through her journey as a Spiritual Misfit.
We have lots of choices about books we spend time with but I promise this one will not leave you wondering if you made the right decision. You’ll be grateful you took the journey. And then you’ll give copies away to your friends and family members.
And speaking of giveaways, I’m delighted to give away a copy of Spiritual Misfit to one lucky person who leaves a comment on this post or on my Facebook page. I’ll announce the winner on Friday!
How does self-doubt keep you from making decisions?