I read a little book yesterday titled Spiritual Misfit - A Memoir of Uneasy Faith by Michelle DeRusha. It wasn’t what I expected, though I’m not even sure what, if anything, I did expect. Perhaps I thought I’d find words of solace for my spiritual misfitness. Unlike my faith that keeps me at arms length from most people, it was her digging out from under complete lack of faith while living in an openly Christian-based community in Nebraska that made her a misfit. But it was a good read. Eloquent, often funny, and oh so honest. Would that the rest of us who call ourselves Christians would or could be so forthright.
Raised Catholic in every sense of the word, and once she had gone off to college and then married and moved far away from her family and roots, she had no concept of who or what God is, and managed to hide her doubt that God even existed at all. She attended church with her husband but could not relate to or connect with the concept of God or Jesus so she was able to disguise herself as a ‘good’ Christian all the while being uncomfortable in church and doubting the very doctrine that is the foundation for Christianity.
After years of searching, trying and failing and trying again, the author found her right place, not because she was entitled to it, but because she was willing to ask questions without having a pre-fabricated answer readily available to fill in the silent space before the answer could gently show up.
One quote, in particular, was quite good.
In Mere Christianity C.S.Lewis argued that while it is nearly impossible to hand over our whole selves to Jesus, it’s easier than the alternative, which is “to remain what we call ‘ourselves’ to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be ‘good’.” These two disparate pursuits do not balance, Lewis claimed, no matter how much we desire both of them. We cannot simultaneously strive for both personal happiness and God; we cannot pursue our own needs and God at the same time. The solution, Lewis stated, is to let that ‘other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in... . Standing back from all your normal fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.”
I recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with internal conflict over who is God, what is faith, (real faith), and how do you go from non-believer to understander.
This book was in direct contrast to another small book I read this week titled Simplify Your Emotions: Steps to Happiness by Dr. Guy Jordan. In Spiritual Misfit the lesson to be learned is that we cannot make ourselves happy (or perfect) no matter what the cause of our unhappiness. Contentment and happiness comes not from the deep well of SELF help but the outside Source Who loves us in spite of our flaws. The One Who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we might be made partakers in the joy, not questers for some sort of fleshly happiness.
The first book is an expose, a disclosure of what the ugly side of selfish looks like. The second book is a feel-good list of steps to finding out how to make up our own artificial, shallow, short-term happiness, if we could just try hard enough.
Man is born broken.
He lives by mending.
The grace of God is the glue.
~ Eugene O’Neill