I know I rave about books a lot here – I tend towards the jazz hands side on the review scale of life (Which is essentially: Ballet = “I found this to be a quiet, but important, read;” Modern Dance = “this book is weird;” Jazz Hands = “OMIGOSH I WANT TO HAND THIS TO YOU PERSONALLY RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE!!!”) This tendency leaves me feeling a bit like The Girl Who Cried Wolf right now, because Nadia Bolz-Weber’s Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People is ALL the dances: it’s the important, weird book I want to hand to you personally right this very minute. I can imagine some part of it appealing to you, no matter who you are.
My favorite chapter is called “The Lame.” In it, Bolz-Weber describes how, as she wrote her first book, her editor pushed her to describe why she’d been such a pissed off kid – how she’d suffered from an autoimmune disorder that caused her eyes to bulge out of her face so far that her eyelids could not even close.
“Absolutely not,” Bolz-Weber replied. Then she tells us about what she learned as she wrote it:
“Of all the inelegant things I wrote about myself in that book,” she says now, “–publicly admitting to drug use, alcoholism, deceit, sexual indiscretion, misanthropy, and pretending to be a hero–the pain and alienation of my childhood was the one thing that made me think, If I tell this, I may die. If I show the encasing under the tattoos, no one will again believe that I am cool.”
Writing this made her realize: it was never the people attracted to her “cool” persona who stayed at her church. It was the ones drawn to the bug-eyed kid she used to be, the with no friends who ate her lunch alone in middle school.
I read that and wrote in the margins: “They’re not drawn to her cool or her uncool. They’re drawn to the path between the two. She’s transformed.”
I’m not sure I’ve seen a better collection of real stories of transformation walked out in daily life. If you need encouragement that it’s possible (even if you’re pretty sure that YOU’RE fine, but know all these OTHER PEOPLE who could use some transformation) read this. You’ll want to cry when you’re done, but in a good way, because you’ve been reminded that all the things are possible.