I asked my preschool Sunday school class, "Who puts band aids on your elbows and kisses the hurts away when you fall down?" Most of them raised their hands into the air about to burst at the seams with the answer. When I smiled Addy's way, she proudly exhaled, "Jesus!"
Have you been a Christian long enough to know the Sunday school answer? Everyone knows Jesus is the answer and everything else is wrong.
Everyone, that is, except Michelle DeRusha. This girl says what no respectable Christian would about her faith in Spiritual Misfit: A Memoir of Uneasy Faith.
Finally, there is someone brave enough to say all the things we Christians have thought then promptly suppressed, thinking them inappropriate. Michelle says it all and confesses it loud.
She's no stranger to confession, and she's found it much more freeing and absolving to shout her shortcomings and flaws, her mistakes and misgivings, her timid baby steps toward God and her skepticism to the whole word rather than whisper them shamefully behind the veil of the confessional.
She stares her uneasy, fragile faith in the eye. With an equally scant measure of defiance pitted against her paltry faith, Michelle plods on in her awkward and jolting relationship to God. She's determined to hammer out her Christianity no matter what it looks like, even if she misses and hits her thumb — or worse, God's — in the process.
If you are one who learned long ago to sensor your answers and substitute them with the Sunday school answer, whether it's the truth — your truth — or not, meet Michelle, the girl with your story, give or take a few details. You will love her instantly because you will see yourself in her, and you will cheer her forward in her faith. She’s the underdog, and aren't we all suckers for the underdog?
“And that's when I prayed. I'll admit, it was a combination of cursing and praying, but that was progress. A year or two prior, it would have been entirely cursing under my breath. So when I was blasting Brad in my head—Stupid, stupid idea. Mr. Stupid Nature Man dragging us out here in this stupid wilderness...—I was praying, Please God, please God, please don't let the canoe turn over; please help us get to shore safely, please give me the strength to keep paddling, please keep my children safe. I even thought about suggesting to the kids that we pray out loud together. But I ditched that idea when I realized it probably would have panicked them further. "What?! Mommy's praying! Mommy's praying! We're all gonna die!!" (Spiritual Misfit, p. 150)
I've always thought I wanted others to see Jesus in me. I still do. But after reading Michelle’s book, I also want people to see the flawed and beautiful battle of dying to myself and groping my way in the darkness by faith to a very real God who loves me anyway. It's comforting to know we are not alone in this, especially when our real life faith often doesn’t look like the Sunday school answer.
Maybe you haven't yet embarked on Michelle's journey. You haven't found the courage to hold your feeble and fragile faith-baby still gestating inside you. If that’s you, you’ll find in Michelle's story the courage you've been searching for. Her experience is flawed and human and wanting and very, very real. You will find yourself in her words.
You could win a free copy of Michelle’s book. I’m giving away Spiritual Misfit to one brave commenter.
So, tell me, what makes you feel like a spiritual misfit? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Let’s be brave and talk about it. I’ll be right there with you to say, “Yeah. Me, too.” Or you can just tell me why you'd love to read this book. Any comment will do.
Spiritual Misfit Giveaway Details:
1. Enter to win by leaving a blog comment with a way to contact you in case you win.
2. Entries close Thursday afternoon at 5PM EDT.
3. I’ll announce the winner on the blog on Friday.
In community with Jennifer.