I must be honest. At first, the cover of your book confused me. Every time I picked it up to read, I’d glance at all those black birds perched on telephone wires on the left side of the book and wonder, What does that have to do with being a spiritual misfit?
I thought my observational skills had improved over the last few years, but apparently, they still need some work. I eventually turned my gaze to the right side of the book, where, in all its lovely glory, is the lone red bird perched on the wire.
Of course. What a beautiful picture of your story. A person may feel like a misfit on her spiritual journey, but in God’s eyes, she is a unique and beautiful creation, just like that cardinal. And, no matter where she comes from—even Massachusetts, in your case—she is worth every ounce of effort it seemingly takes for God to draw her into His eternal family.
I also have to tell you that it took me awhile to get into your book because I was distracted by a detail. (Are you starting to notice a pattern here?) You write about stealing a necklace from your classmate’s desk when you were in third grade, and how this crime ushered in feelings of guilt that haunted you well into your adult years.
All I could think when I was reading this anecdote was, Why didn’t she just find a time when the girl wasn’t at her desk and put the necklace back? If assuaging the guilt was your sole goal, you could have achieved that easily. Plus you would have saved yourself years of heartache and paranoia.
Of course, you also might have breezed through life without finally realizing your need for a Savior, which would have negated the need for your book. So now I’m glad you didn’t put the necklace back.
I’m also thankful I didn’t let my tendency to get distracted keep me from reading the rest of Spiritual Misfit. While the stuff of life has slowly eroded many of my perfectionist tendencies, I can relate to your propensity for structure, order and logic. And when I read that your “grocery list is laid out in Excel according to Super Saver’s aisles,” I was hooked.
I was born “back East,” as they say, but have spent much of my life in the rectangular block of a state just below Nebraska. So your perspective about the culture shock you experienced when you moved from your beloved Massachusetts to the Cornhusker state was hilarious. From the oppressive heat and the fact that everyone had a “church family” they were eager to talk about, to the abundance of corn crops and mammoth grasshoppers, I can see why you often felt you were living in a foreign country.
I grew up in a Christian family and never really strayed from the faith, so your story intrigued me. It was refreshing to read about someone who starts out with no faith and ends up finding Jesus, as opposed to today’s popular narrative of people who grew up in some kind of “Christian subculture” only to leave it behind when they entered adulthood.
I love that, despite the strangeness of everything you encountered along the way—Bible studies, praying out loud in small groups, the “Christian Inspiration” department at Barnes & Noble, for example—you kept searching. I admire your forthrightness about where you were spiritually, your conscious decision to choose blessing and reject doubt, and especially your willingness push forward even when it meant putting yourself in uncomfortable places.
Your self-deprecating humor made the book all the more enjoyable. At one point in the chapter about grace, I was laughing so hard I had to stop and read several paragraphs aloud to my husband. Who knew a person’s experience with such a foundational theological truth could be so funny?
I hate to be the one to break it to you, Michelle, but there is something very Midwestern about your stick-to-itiveness, your determination to put one foot in front of the other even though you didn’t experience some kind of emotionally charged conversion.
I’ve known some Nebraskans in my lifetime. They work hard; they don’t take themselves too seriously; they’re always willing to help. That’s just the kind of people they are.
It sounds like you are now one of them, Michelle. There are many worse things you could be, don’t you think?
Thanks for writing a great book.
To learn more about the Author Notes series, click here.