Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Blue like jazz.

Confession:  I don't really enjoy reading Christian books.  This might explain my hesitation with wanting to actually write one.  And it should probably be said that I've read, oh, 6 Christian-themed books total, so I realize the scope of my research is *limited*. 

It boils down to relevancy and tone, for me.  There are just some writers (in general, not just Christian  authors, because I only know 6 of them) that resonate with me in the way that they write.  I find this to be particularly true of Christian authors, who are all starting with the same premise--attempting to make God and the Bible and Jesus APPLICABLE to modern life. 

Some authors use gigantic words.  And for me, there is nothing less motivating than reading something that makes me feel like I need a tutor, because if I require *special* help to meet Jesus, well, that can't mean good things.  I don't like to intellectualize Jesus--in fact, he is ONE MILLION times more real to me in simple language. 

Some authors swallow a happy pill.  Not that I am against happy, I just don't always trust it?  Okay, it's like when you have a new baby, and beautifully manicured women with smiles on steroids come up to you and ask you if you are just loving every single minute of mothering your precious newborn?  And part of you dies a little inside, because while you would skin a wolf with  your own teeth to save the life of your new baby, you are, in all reality, 2-missed-hours of sleep away from a very public, hair-shaving meltdown, ala Britney Spears.  I am in  love with women who can share in the horror of leaking, SIMULTANEOUSLY, from every single sweat gland and milk duct in the female body.  And NOT be happy about it.   

Some authors use life-changing experiences and events of a miraculous nature.  Listen, I get this one.  I've lived this one, quite a bit actually.  And while it's true that I have never felt the more intimate presence of Jesus as I did with the birth of the wondertwins, I struggle more with living my faith during milk spills and what-is-this-growing-on-the-bottom-of-my toe (more on that later) and lego-up-the-nose type disasters.  I LOVE the NICU, but I don't want to have to live there FOREVER, in order to live like Christ, ya know?

All this to say, that I just finished "Blue Like Jazz" by Donald Miller.  Changed my life.  Because, as it turns out, I do enjoy Christian authors and it is, in fact, possible to be a Christian without having a Ph.D or a lifetime prescription for Xanax.   This book is more like a series of essays, that pertain to his life and the experiences that have shaped his faith...and it is so honestly written with a touch of sarcastic humor.  This is me exhaling a HUGE sigh of relief, because when I read sarcasm, it literally breathes life into my soul, and that confession makes me feel a little bit like I am sporting horns and crazy red devil skin.  You know what?  A lot about my life is RIDICULOUS, and I appreciate it when others can understand that.  I know there are some of you that are fed with happy words of encouragement and others who love to hear stories of miraculous deeds--but the good Lord, in all of his infinite wisdom, speaks clearest to me in the language of irony with a touch of humor.  When faced with a fit of vomiting and 2nd grade homework that I can't understand to save my life?  I like to poke fun at it (so that I don't bawl my eyes out at night), and then move along. 

Please don't read this and think this book isn't hard hitting.  It is.  It is the most meaningful piece I have read on living out faith (but I've only read 6 Christian books, so take this with a grain of salt)--mostly because I  am encouraged by it and not convicted to take out a small loan to finance years of therapy or additional education.  It is all about how you make choices and form habits and make mistakes that lead to change as you "do life".  It is about being led and learning.  All. the. time. 

It is such a real picture of Christian life, and I think I could read it 100 times.  But for now, I will leave you with my FAVORITE bit.  One of the parts that I will remember, hopefully, for the rest of my life:

Here is the trick, and here is my point.  Satan, who I believe exists as much as I believe Jesus exists, wants us to believe meaningless things for meaningless reasons.  Can you imagine if Christians actually believed that God was trying to rescue us from the pit of our self-addiction?  Can you imagine?  Can you imagine what Americans would do if they understood over half the world was living in poverty?  Do you think they would change the way they live, the products they purchase, the politicians they elect?  If we believed the right things, the true things, there wouldn't be very many problems on earth.

But the trouble with deep belief is that it costs something.  And there is something inside me, some selfish beast of a subtle thing that  doesn't like the truth at all because it CARRIES RESPONSIBILITY, AND IF I ACTUALLY BELIEVE THESE THINGS I HAVE TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THEM.  It is so, so cumbersome to believe anything.

--Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz


Melanie said...

Yes! I LOVED this book for the very same reasons. It is excellent. Have you read Anne Lamott? You may have been separated at birth.

Mel Cable said...

ritchey has his senior bible class read this, its good for sheltered christian school students too.

Mindy Owens said...

One of the struggles for the church - we've lost our voice - and the language we use tends to be irrelevant - we speak words that mean something only to ourselves - thanks, Sara

carmenelise said...

Great post. One of my very fave books too. Love his voice... and his heart... and his authentic struggle... but mostly his joy in the face of it all. And Melanie's right: Anne Lamott's "Traveling Mercies" (or anything else, really), will simultaneously make you cry your eyes out and pee your pants. (So, I dunno... stay hydrated while reading?) Thanks for writing, Sara -- you make me smile.

Lelan @ Good Gravy! said...

I. Need. This. Book.

Brian said...

a good friend gave me that book a few years ago for the same reason ... i loved it. I then read 'to own a dragon' by miller and it resonated with me even more, although that's more geared to boys growing up without a father's influence in their life, but that's for another time.