Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Spiritual Misfit Review

This is a book about Cheez-Its. And breast pumps. And Dairy Queen stunts of a young exhibitionist and some weird version of the Bible that turned out to be a fiction series called Left Behind. You will get to know Owl Spectacles in the cracker aisle and Martha Steward on Jesus, who lives two doors down. You will find yourself comparing and contrasting what Gwenyth Goddess must look like standing next to a less svelte version of Richard Simmons. And this is just the tip of the iceberg, people.

This is a very human book. It's a book about the pain of losing and the joy of finding, but it's not any less a book about the joy of losing and the pain involved in finding. Michelle DeRusha is as candid as she is inspiring, and in a very Anne Lamott-ish way, makes you wet your pants laughing just before she stops on a dime and brings you words of contemplation.

Michelle writes her stories with a humor that looks up. She doesn't tell us all will be sunshine and roses, doesn't pull any punches, and courageously allows her life - even the grittier portions - to be radically on display. This alone inspires me. But she doesn't stop there. This self-confessed avoid-er of religious conversation leads us to surprising depth of insight and maturity on matters having to do with the soul. (Such irony is not lost on her, by the way.) The same woman who let shame and fear cloak her unbelief for years now steps out to whisper the hard-won truth that these times were not wasted. That even spiritual misfits have a place at God's table:
" ... through these ordinary people [in the Bible] and despite their many imperfections, God accomplished great things. This realization gave me hope, hope that my questions and doubts and wrestling and waffling were all an important part of my journey, part of the growing pains I would experience in my deepening relationship with God. Peter told me I could waver. David told me I didn't need to be perfect. Jacob told me it was okay to wrestle. And through these people and their stories, God told me he chose me again and again. In spite of my flaws."
Nothing draws me to a Christian book more than a faith unafraid to get its hands dirty. When spiritual journeys are depicted as only a series of victories and silent on the defeats, I get skeptical. And then I usually abandon the book for something a little closer to home. This is not the case with Spiritual Misfit. I found it to be honest and humble and refreshingly light-hearted. Complexity in the faith journey was not portrayed as a disease, but rather embraced. Even celebrated. There were mistakes, yes, but there was also redemption. Copious redemption.

And if this - this clinging to redemption, to the grace that chases and prevails - this trusting through every part of the process and calling it all good - if this is what makes one a "misfit" ...? Then count me in.

You can find this book at Amazon here. And Michelle's blog is accessible by clicking here