Part of my goal this semester is to challenge myself outside of class through reading and devotional activities in order to not allow my faith to just be something I talk about in class, since there is a lot of that going on in Seminary, especially with me. So at the beginning of the semester I said that i was going to read books that challenged me and that weren’t assigned by my professor. I didn’t really start until Spring Break, and I did so on a whim…
The Monday of Spring Break I was at one of my babysitting jobs and sort of bored while the baby was sleeping and since it was Spring Break and I was leaving for Vegas later that night – I had brought no homework. So I picked up a book that looked intriguing and started reading it, knowing nothing about the author or the book. It’s called Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace and Learning the Hard Way by Shauna Niequist. That day I read the first third of the book. The following Monday I read another third and tomorrow I’m looking forward to finish it. The only reason I didn’t finish it last Monday was that I had hit an intense chapter which had made me do an internal “whoa” and therefore needed to stop and process for a bit.
The author is extremely honest and raw in this book. She talks about her feelings and her relationships in a way that’s deeply real. In her words I found a lot of myself, a lot of where I’ve been in these last few months. Learning about grace and change the hard way. I feel a strange connectedness to her, even though I’ve never met her and we live very different lives. Still, her words touch my heart and make me look at myself in a different way. It’s really intriguing.
I read a chapter called “Twenty-five” in which the author reflects on being twenty-five-ish. She speaks in a way that’s encouraging about what it’s like to be in this age range. It’s a time of life full of possibilities and yet it’s still oddly routine. People my age live in a couple of different ways, some live in the mundane of everyday life, waiting for their lives to being. They may be working a crappy job, still in school or whatever, they feel as though they are marking time until they get to whatever their life purpose is. And others live into the adventure of life, they try new things, they live life loud and without hesitation.
Being in Seminary this year I find myself falling into that first category and it’s terribly saddening. I didn’t used to be like this, how has life gotten so boring? I miss the excitement of being passionate and enjoying life. This chapter made me pause and take a hard look at myself, my faith, my relationships and where my life is going. While I realized I’m not living like I would like to, I also realized there is time to change that and to reignite that fire in my heart.
At the airport before taking off to Vegas I picked up the book, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by A.J. Jacobs. I feel as though I’m late in joining the Christian bandwagon of those who have read this book, although in my conversations here I realize a lot of people haven’t. So I may be late on the Christian bandwagon and early on the Pastor-wannabes wagon…
Anyways, the basic premise of this book is that this guy who was formerly agnostic takes the challenge of trying to live the biblical laws literally for a year, and he documents it in this memoir. I picked it up as a light read for being poolside in Vegas and have since realized, it is not a light read. At times it’s super funny and just light-hearted, at other times it challenges my thinking on my faith and at the same time, fascinates me to see how others may view this faith of mine.
Throughout the course of the book he meets with various pastors, rabbis and extremists in the faith to discuss the laws. It’s been a crazy read to hear stories of the various things people believe and to wonder where and how this faith tradition has changed so drastically. It’s also very interesting to hear his point of view as someone learning about these things for the first time as an adult. We often read bible stories from the old testament and think, “Yeah, I learned about this in Sunday school” and just accept the weirdness, but this author reads it from the adult perspective of “I’m sorry, what??”
In a lot of ways it is making me think more and more about evangelism and how to approach biblical conversations with those who have grown up outside of the church. It’s a really interesting perspective, and I’m glad I picked it up. And I’m only about a third of the way into his year!!
So here’s where I’m at…. I’m fighting to rediscover my passion for life and the things God has for me. I’m hoping that a few things coming up will help to aid in that as well as a few changes I’ve made in my everyday life. I’m hoping that in this season I can dig in deeper and try to really connect with God and my identity in him. I’ll keep ya updated on how it’s going.