Thursday, August 7, 2008

My Review: Messy Spiritualtiy

I really appreciate this book.

While I don’t think it is the last word on Christian spirituality, I appreciate the author’s raw honesty about his own messy spirituality. Goodness knows I’m a mess, too. But I’m learning that I don’t have to have it all together to seek God and to be used by Him.

One aspect of this book I particularly valued was how important it is to be authentic and transparent when it comes to spirituality. I know from experience how easy it is to put up a chipper façade of “everything is great with me and my walk with God.” This book speaks of truly seeking after and following God, and being honest about where and when things aren’t perfect along the way. Faking spiritual perfection doesn’t get us very far, especially because let’s face it, none of us truly has this spirituality thing nailed down. Isn’t that why Christ came? He knew we’d need saving.

I remember one summer I had a spiritual mentor on a missions project. And we just didn’t click well. I didn’t want to share with her what was really going on with me, nor did I want to hear her words of guidance. After weeks of trying to figure out exactly what was wrong in our relationship, I came to realize that I never got to hear about the areas she struggled with. She wasn’t at all transparent with me, and I didn’t want to be open and honest in return.

One day, in a way that I hope was gentle, I told her about this issue. She was remarkably gracious and not a bit defensive, and even beyond that started to share more of herself me. We both grew and were encouraged those last few weeks of the project. As I think about my own ministry, and the lives God might use me to touch, this story reminds me to admit my own imperfections as a way to encourage those around me.

I think true authenticity with others, and vice-versa, can lead to growth.

I don’t think honesty should stop with relationships. Messy Spirituality reminds us to be honest with ourselves, too. Spiritual imperfection is always going to be a reality this side of heaven, and seeking perfect spirituality only causes us to turn our focus inward. I know personally how easy it is to measure my spiritual life against some arbitrary mile marker, and start to focus on doing things – even good things – and forget to simply seek God. I get into “box-checking” mode, and lose focus of my heavenly father.

I can’t say this is my all-time favorite book, but I liked the author’s somewhat, well… messy writing style. I don’t think I agreed with every single point he made, and felt there were some areas of spirituality that could have been delved into further. But there is a lot that I really appreciated about what Mike Yaconelli had to say about the God who is able to meet me where I am and transform me in the midst of my messy, imperfect life.


Short Stop said...

Jessica, your passion for the message of this book and your honesty about your own life came through so clearly in this review. I enjoyed reading everything you wrote about it, and it makes the book even more intriguing to me.

I love the idea of being honest with God. I feel like I can share anything with matter how ugly it is. I don't often feel that way about I can't let Him know what I'm really like - how silly, right? I struggle with that a lot.

Jason keeps saying, "Read it, SG." I need to.

Dave and Jenni said...

Thanks for your review, Jess. I can see truth in a lot of what you said. I'm so thankful that you recommended this book because I love that it tried to break free from the crazy idea of "perfect" Christianity.