Let me start off by saying I often wonder what story I have inside of me that could make up a whole book. I enjoy writing and it fills a creative need in my life. But thousands and thousands of words? Then I read talented folks like Addie Zierman, who write an entire memoir about a road trip she took from Minnesota to Florida, with her two toddler boys, out of desperation one winter. It’s a great book and it gives me hope. Stories are everywhere.
Secondly, Addie has started writing a Dear Addie advice column for a blogging community called Off The Page. I have read each article and they are excellent. So, in writing the book review for her latest book, Night Driving, I thought I’d borrow this concept and write my review to Addie in the form of a letter.
I have been a Christian since the tender age of seven. Like you, I was on fire for Jesus in my youth. Bible drills led to Bible quizzing. I never missed a "See You At The Pole" event. My Saturday nights were spent at Youth For Christ rallies in Kansas City. I didn’t go to the drinking parties my friends attended at the river bottoms in my hometown. I’ve always felt set apart and God has given me some great friends to walk that narrow way with me.
From here, our stories start to differ. Which is not to say I haven’t had hard seasons, but they always drew me closer to God. I find myself having more in common with your friend Audrey in Georgia.
Where my faith crises made me reckless and cynical, hers -whatever they’ve been- seem to have made her surer, stronger, and more grounded. She is spreading roots deep into parts of the Christian culture that I have left behind.
But Addie, we still have so much in common! I want to do right by my child. I fight for a healthy marriage. The open road has called my name on more than one occasion. Our enemy knows me very well and tempts me often.
Every Wednesday night, I gather with about ten women from our community for a time of Bible study. I know that term carries some baggage for people. But this group is my lifeline. I have an insatiable hunger for God’s Word and they let me go on and on and on. They even politely listen when I pull out my book of charts and maps. But more than that, we do life together. We pray for ailing parents. We attend visitations and funerals. We've suffered through divorces. We greet new little babies. We answer questions from new believers that might seem silly. If there are times in their life when Bible study doesn’t fit, we let them go but always keep in touch.
As I read your book, I kept thinking of having you in my Bible study. Could you be honest about your cynicism? Would we listen to your doubts and frustrations? Is it a place where a fellow sister in Christ like you can just be? Among my women, I hope you’d find a crowd like you did in that small church in North Carolina:
But when I started reading from the book, the people in front of me look at me so kindly, nod so gently. The willowy-haired and wrinkled and the young and smooth-faced. They span the whole spectrum, and they have all been there -to the dark bottom of faith- each of them in his or her own particular way. I can’t explain how I know this -I just sense it riveting between us all in the windowed front room.
You’re needed in our faith communities. I learn so much from you, even though it always scares me that someday my fire might go out too. What would I do if God chose to become silent? If, when, this happens, I’ll pick your book up again and I’ll set it right next to my Bible. Between God’s words to us and the words of your testimony, I’ll surely find my way through as well.
I think about the faith journey described in the Bible, and it occurs to me that while there are miracles -moments when God appears and you feel him absolutely- they’re mostly few and far between…
And his silence marks the pages of the biblical narrative more than I ever knew. In fact, God has a history of going quiet with his people. His silence stretches over years, over countries, over generations. But it’s not an abandonment, it’s an invitation.
I received a copy of Night Driving: A Story of Faith In The Dark, written by Addie Zierman, from NetGalley for the purpose of generating a review. Italicized quotes are the from the book. The opinions expressed here are my own.