When was the last time you had a truly intimate conversation?
– closely acquainted; familiar, close
– private and personal.
The thing is, I grew up surrounded by strong, Christian influence. Sort of what I like to think of as “down-home” believers: hard-working, giving, compassionate, faithful, honest people who knew the difference between right and wrong, cared for/about their congregation, and loved their family. Countless meals began with hands held around the table – requests of strength for the sick, thanks for the blessings and the hands which prepared the meal before us. Steady voices between stained glass windows guiding me, as a child, in learning the melody of The Old Rugged Cross and Leaning on the Everlasting Arms. Chain-call prayer lists, Easter dresses, late night revivals, and Sunday school coloring pages.
That was then.
These days, if someone were to ask me: “Do you believe in God?” – I would still answer with a firm yes. If someone were to ask me: “Do you identify as a Christian?” – I would answer with another yes – but I couldn’t look them in the eye and tell them I live in the light of a steadfast Christian lifestyle.
I have a mouth like a sailor, a fondness for Captain Morgan, and a tongue that’s quick to lash out judgment when I feel cornered. I rarely make it to services on Sunday mornings. I am impatient, with a bottle rocket temper lying in wait for the slightest assault on my character.
I tell myself (as I’m sure many of us do): “I’m doing my best.” We go home after a bad day at work or we stare at the pile of bills on the table or we bicker with a loved one and, in our anger/disappointment we think, God, I am doing all that I can.
And y’all, we are, we’re doing our best.
Every facet of life deserves the chance at growth. We do things like: eat healthier, spend extra time studying for a test, water our plants, or wash the makeup off our faces even when we’re too tired to keep our eyes open. Healthy humans seek out growth and change and betterment – mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Some people even share it with others – through blogposts, Facebook statuses/challenges, daily Snapchat stories; people reach out into the void and hope there is just ONE PERSON in the universe who understands.
Tonight, I wanted to share with you all a little of my own personal journey. My exploration, of sorts, into literary growth as a Christian. Because I love books. I have loved books since I can remember loving anything. Their smell, their feel, their escape. And I love writing about books.
Y’all, if I were to jot down a list of my favorite genres, at the top you’d find sci-fi and fantasy – not Christian. Christian probably wouldn’t even make it toward the middle.
A few months ago, however, in the middle of a book I couldn’t “get into,” a chunk of my heart simply requested something more. The emotion wasn’t spurred on by any life changing event or inspiration. I just remember thinking how badly I wanted to read about someone else trying to find their way. To know I wasn’t alone. To know I wasn’t the only one who was pissed off and lost and brawling within.
A shelf over to my left, sat my Bible, with its bent corners and highlighted pages. A book that’s been opened countless times but never been truly consumed by myself as a reader. I could locate my favorite passages and stories. (Yeah, Jonah, I’m talkin’ to you.) And I know where to look for guidance.
But that’s all it was – a fallback to lean into when I needed guidance at my worst. My Bible wasn’t utilized in a daily affair of love and faith – it was only opened when I needed it.
At the age of 27, I’m floundering. I’m in this puddle of endless questions and struggling to find where my abilities will allow me to flourish/provide/serve best. Honestly – I’m unhappy most of the time because I KNOW I have more to give. And I feel as if I’m watching everyone else move along with their lives while I’m encased in glass.
But that’s actually bullshit, isn’t it?
Here comes the intimate part :: Tell me you’re floundering, too. Tell me there’s nothing, and genuinely mean nothing, stopping me (and you) from being a better version of who we are. Tell me to stop throwing a pity party and move forward with something risky and challenging. Tell me you question who you are on the regular. Tell me you have a beautiful life but you still don’t know where to start to know yourself.
And I will tell you, I’m finding some of the answers in books. In literature. In words. First and foremost, the good word itself, but secondly from people who are just. Like. Me. Penning down their experiences and opening up for an intimate conversation.
I used to think Christian books were many things: boring, stale, preachy, uppity, blah, blah, blah. I was stone cold to the genre and biased beyond belief. My eyes hadn’t been opened to the work of artists who are phenomenal storytellers. Teachers. Poets.
So, I’m reaching out, and I’m curious if I can make a connection here. Do you read Christian literature? If so, do you have any recommendations? Or do you think it’s a waste of time? A waste of material?
I want to have an intimate conversation.
And since I’m a nerd and love book photography – here’s three of my newest books I’m EXCITED about. Books I wouldn’t have even glanced at six months ago.
Chat with me. Tell me your thoughts. Throw out ideas. Be kind. Be open minded.