Michelle DeRusha's debut book, Spiritual Misfit: A Memoir of Uneasy Faith, was the first package to arrive at our new house. As a member of her launch team, I received a free copy and started reading it late at night while we waited for the phone and internet to be set up.
In my mind, I read it by candlelight, because at that point we had very little power in the house, but really I suspect there was a lamp or something shedding light. It was an appropriate setting, as Michelle writes candidly and humorously about her own slow, uneasy journey out of darkness and into light.
Here are three things I liked about this book:
1. It's truly funny. Yes, that's right, Michelle is a Christian and she's terribly, terribly funny. Not funny in a cheesy, naive way, but funny in that truly human way that emerges when one dares to strip away all pretense, to expose the depths of one's own deep humanity. Telling her story, Michelle does this again and again - honest with herself and honest with her readers, she gives us all hope as we laugh til we cry, seeing ourselves through grace light.
2. It's real about the tensions between faith and doubt. Michelle grew up in church, but gradually drifted to a place of unbelief, where God no longer fit. Never finding the freedom to ask questions, she simply decided to stop talking all together about God, about faith, about doubt.
Moving to the America's heartland only intensified her spiritual dis-ease. Living in the land of bible and bread, Michelle did her best to blend in, hiding her doubts. Finally, "hitting rock bottom" Michelle decided to fess up - facing fear head-on, she shares her deep doubts with her local pastor and begins to start again at square one, re-exploring the terrain of faith as an adult.
What I appreciate most about this section of the book is the way Michelle writes about the tension between knowing and believing and the choice to give belief a chance. As she writes,
Almost as instantly as my heart told me I had experienced a blessing, a connection with God, my head squashed such a preposterous idea. . . . After twenty years of unbelief, doubt had become a habit. . . . The truth is, once I began to question my doubts at least as much as I questioned my toddler-step, doddering faith, I began to see small miracles everywhere (82-3).
3. It's not a "how-to." Michelle resists the temptation to turn her life story into a three-step process finding faith and for this, I'm grateful. As it stands, Spiritual Misfit's deeply personal nature is what will give it a nearly universal appeal for those losing and finding faith. In shedding the masks and rules, Michelle dives in at the deep end and finds a way to float in the midst of faith and doubt. Lifted by the grace she comes to know and trust, she invites us also to dive in, to open up, and look closely for the footprints of God in our own stories, our own lives.
Order Spiritual Misfit HERE.
Visit Michelle's Blog to learn more about the book, read advance praise and peruse quotes.
Interested in joining a book club discussion of Spiritual Misfit, either online (fb) or in person? Let me know via the comments section below and stay tuned for further announcements here and on the A Field of Wildflowers Facebook page.
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