bookstores frosting and dirt

Donald Miller spoke at our church yesterday. At the eleven o’clock service I sat right next to him. I am not sure why but I thought Donald Miller would be kind of a jerk, perhaps because another author I met years ago came across to me as rude and abrasive once face to face. I figured he would be annoyed by star-struck fans like myself. I was delightfully surprised, which was especially nice since I was trying to get the courage to give him a note pleading that he read a few samples of my writing and toss some contacts my way if he liked any of it. Probably one of the cheesiest things I have ever done in my life and considering I spent a few summers as a camp counselor, that’s saying something. I hate cheesy. But he is Donald Miller and he was at my church. Some things are worth the risk.

He had one of his books available for purchase that I would have loved to pick up but I was pretty sure my checkbook was not in the black hole of my purse and I had kids to pick up from the children’s program and you know how it goes. But I was inspired and curious. I have read only one of this man’s books, but I loved it. And I did just make a fool of myself to him, so why not read more of his writing to see how thoroughly a fool I made?

So today being Monday – grocery shopping day – I made a detour between Trader Joe’s and Vons and hunted down the only Christian book store I even have a clue to where it might be. At the last light before the driveway, I was stopped behind a car whose license plate said, “CHOSEN”. If that weren’t enough, the license plate holder had some saying about Jesus and there was a small dove in the middle of some word stuck on the hatchback. We must be closer.

As I pulled in, a pit formed in my stomach. I have avoided Christian bookstores for a few years and today I would figure out why. My heart was dragging and screaming at me that it did not want to enter, but my desire to have this book in my hands over-rode. I walked in and the worshipful elevator music played at an appropriate volume in the background. Perfect. I asked the man at the register where I might find the two authors I was looking for. He led the way.

They had two of Miller’s books – one copy each. He has written about five. Neither were the one I was looking for. He had to check the other author on the computer. No luck. Are you kidding me? You don’t have any Anne Lamott in the entire store??? What kind of Christian book store was this?

Unfortunately, it was the normal kind. The kind that is filled with thousands of books that are one version or another of a Christian self-help. “How to Earn Your Way to Being A Better Christian” “10 Steps to a Better Christian You” “Here’s How to Really Be Right”

I am sure those kinds of books are helpful to a very many people. There’s a bookstore filled with them for goodness sake. I am pretty sure I used to love those books. But something has shifted in me and while I still love Jesus, I am not a huge fan of those books.

I left the store feeling like I had a mouthful of wedding cake frosting. And this would be, I figured out, why I have been avoiding Christian bookstores. There is nothing wrong with wedding cake frosting. Many people love wedding cake frosting. I just don’t happen to be a big fan. It is light and airy and sweet and fluffy and leaves me wanting something more. More grit. More sustenance. More honesty.

And this is the turn my faith has taken. Instead of my old sub-conscious compulsion to hide the reality of life…to say that all was peachy because Jesus loves us and praise the Lord! and sweep the dirt under the rug, my faith has been replaced by a more honest version. One that appreciates the meat and potatoes of life and cannot be sustained by wedding cake frosting alone. I find myself coming from the angle that God and reality can co-exist and that God never intended for me to behave like they didn’t. I value the freedom to question more than the appearance of having all the answers. I embrace the grit. I can no longer deny the rocks and sticks and dirt of life – the things not often topping a wedding cake.

So maybe it’s not so much the Christian bookstore that bugs me as it is my own history. Perhaps that’s why I love writers like Donald Miller and Anne Lamott (and Leeana Tankersley) who may be a bit controversial in popular American Christian culture but who leave me with a sense that I don’t have to deny reality in order to love God. They give me freedom to ask questions and have opinions that may seem scandalous to some of my friends but to me is simply life with more than just wedding cake frosting.

So I wonder…who is your favorite author…and why?

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14 thoughts on “bookstores frosting and dirt

  1. Multimeg says:

    Nice work, Becca! Can’t wait to check your blog regularly!

  2. Rebecca!! I can hear your voice through your writing, and I LOVE IT!! Thank you for your realness and your honesty. Both of which are so refreshing! One of my favorites is Francine Rivers, most especially her book, “Redeeming Love.” That was the book that got me into reading. I couldn’t put it down.

    • itsakoolife says:

      Kristine! Thank you so much for reading and being a voice of encouragement! I, too, was impacted by reading Redeeming Love and it is one of my personal favs as well. I am so amazed by writers of novels and how they can take ideas and thoughts and ways of looking at the world and weave them into story in a poignant way. Thanks for leaving your comment – great to have a point of connection – I miss you being down here!

  3. YAY!! Seems like a cheesy response which seems totally inappropriate due to the content of this particular post, but I feel GREAT JOY in seeing your words in print in an ‘official’ capacity-I know God has GREAT influence planned through you and how you see the world.

    • itsakoolife says:

      YAY right back! Being Norwegian how can we not like some good cheese, right? Thanks so much for being such a strong believer in me. Your unending support and cheerleading mean the world to me. Thanks, Karen!

  4. mrwisley says:

    1. Great post!
    2. I, too, love Leeana’s writing..I can scarcely read a post of hers without crying.
    3. Donald Miller is authentic. That’s what I like about him.
    4. Really..great post!

    • itsakoolife says:

      Mr. Wisley! No sooner do I read your comment than I check my email and find out about your accident! Thank you for reading while you are laid up in a hospital bed! And thank you so much for your wonderful encouragement!

  5. Diane says:

    My Anne Lamott books came from Amazon and Borders. She is a good read. Donald Miller came to my church a few years ago and spoke during an evening (I don’t think I met him, and my thoughts on him are too long for here) . As for my favorite authors, I don’t know if I have one. If we are talking “christian” I might have to lean towards Francis Chan, though favorite is too strong a word. Dallas Willard is wedding cake frosting fluff, but more a thick piece of meat. Each piece must be thoroughly chewed on.

    Love that you are doing a blog. I look forward to more posts. Thanks for using your gifts!

    • itsakoolife says:

      Diane, thanks so much for your comments. I know you are not a Miller fan, and I appreciate your chiming in anyway. As far as authors go – I love the way books can get us out of ourselves and help us see things and feel things we wouldn’t have otherwise no matter what belief system the author writes them from. You are someone who opened my mind to that long ago and I thank you. I appreciate the encouragement and support!

  6. denise says:

    becca,
    it’s denise from oakhurst. diane f.b.’d your post and here i am. i am a fan of donald miller (i’ve read all his books. so so good) and anne lammott. this recovering pharisee and former consumer of wedding cake frosting appreciates their authenticity. your words describe well what i have learned from them, “God and reality can co-exist and that God never intended for me to behave like they didn’t.”

    my favorite author is donald miller, but i also love c.s. lewis {mere christianity, was c.s. the d.m. of his time?} and i’m a fan of st. augustine’s confessions. his struggle and intimacy with one true God are inspiring.

    • itsakoolife says:

      Denise! So fun to hear from you and I am glad you found a nugget in my post! Sounds like we would find much comraderie over a cup of coffee! Great question about Lewis being the Miller of this time…love that to chew on! I got to read St. Augustine for a class in college at UC Santa Cruz of all places! I remember loving it and chuckling at the irony. I find your engagement as a reader inspiring….thank you!

  7. Kristal Johnson says:

    itsaKOOlife!! Perfect name.

    Finally! You started a blog! I absolutely LOVE it and can’t wait to read more (I’m following). Your thoughts are genuine, honest and that’s why you are my favorite author =) You may be thinking… hmm, I don’t have a published book, how can I be your favorite author? Well, from where I sit and what you’ve shared over the past couple years, it doesn’t take the binding of freshly printed paper to make an amazing author. I’m so excited to see where your words take you.

    Oh, and to answer your question about the book… I’m reading “The Search For Significance” by Robert S. McGee right now and loving it. Truly life-altering. I ❤ you Becca!
    Kristal

    • itsakoolife says:

      again, thought i responded but i don’t see it. thank you for being such an ENORMOUS support and believer in my writing. you have been there since the beginning and i appreciate your encouragement so very very much! THANK YOU for being such a positive voice in my life.

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