Little known fact #2: I have not fully read the majority of books on my bookshelf. If you look closely, most are bookmarked a third or half of the way in... books I started reading months, even years ago, and put down because something more interesting or shiny came up.
Usually, the books I actually make it to the end of are the ones I read cover to cover in one or two sittings-- on a long flight or while babysitting for a hippie Seattle family without a TV. But lately, thanks to the inconsistent schedule of my illustrious career as a teaching artist, I've finally had a lot of extra time on my hands, and instead of wasting said time away parousing facebook or watching TV, I'm trying to dust off some of the unfinished reads waiting around on my bookshelf.
And wonder of wonders, my plan is succeeding so far. Between a long bath last night, and a morning in bed today, I finished a book! A full two hundred and forty pages! (It's good to know that I'm not actually illiterate, as I feared for a bit there..)
It helped that the book, a memoir called Angry Conversations with God, was one of those "just can't put it down" type of reads. It's by an actor/writer/comedienne (hey, that sounds familiar) named Susan Isaacs, who spent most of her adult life trying to figure out how to pursue her dream of working in film, while also pursuing God. Substitute theatre for film and I'm pretty sure it could be the story of my life.
It was an emotional read for me-- probably because the hurts that she so vulnerably confesses: the inner turmoil an artist feels trying to squeeze into the mold of a churchy, happy christian, the struggle of seeing friends succeed in a tough business and feeling like your own career is going nowhere, the frustrations and confusion of singleness and dating when everything you understand about sexuality and relationships is also tied to your understanding of God; these are all things I'm grappling with on a daily basis.
I've spent a lot of time lately wishing God had made me different: more rational, less analytical, certainly less emotional. It would make it so much easier to feel comfortable at church. And to find a husband. And to pick a career. If only I were uncreative and unemotional and content with simple answers, life would be so much easier...
But then I read a book like this, so creative, so well thought-through, and clearly written by someone whose personality, and thought life, and emotional sensitivities sound quite like mine, and I know that he's made me this creative, artistic, blubberingly bizarre human being for a reason. And that he will walk alongside me through whatever struggles lie ahead.
I'm not so naive as to believe that it won't be a difficult journey. Like Susan, who had her fair share of turmoil (eating disorders, alcoholism, terrible relationships and break-ups), I know I will run into plenty of pain in this world (As she puts it, "we live in a fallen world, and it sucks"). But God's given me no other choice than to keep climbing the trail to the top of his Everest (I got that metaphor from the book, too). Some days, I'm terrified of what lies ahead, but as Susan writes in her final chapter, "I'd rather die on the mountain than lie around in Death Valley."