I recently read — no, scratch that — I devoured Michele Cushatt’s first book, Undone. While I have never had a cancer diagnosis, I found myself strangely relating to her memoir. My “undone” was both different (recurrent pregnancy loss and infertility) and the same (loving and raising kids from hard places).
So even though I knew her story, I trusted her heart, and I delighted in her voice, I still came to her newest book, I Am, a little concerned that it might not be for me.
I AM: A gift of faith when easy answers aren’t enough
“I’m no theologian,” she claims. There are no degrees hanging from her walls from seminary. So who is she, she wonders, to be able to wrestle with the deeper truths of God’s Word and pair it with the brokenness of this world? To not only find God in this brokenness, but to discover her true self along the way? And help us find our own true selves through her experiences and God’s Word?
“It wasn’t a clean faith, a faith without questions. But it was a real faith …”
Michele Cushatt, I Am
From someone who has a Bible and theology degree hanging from my own proverbial walls, I have to say she is exactly the right person. I know a degree can be bought and paid for without it changing one’s heart. But to have suffered and to still have deep faith — that is a qualification no one pursues and yet it is priceless in value.
As someone who has also faced significant heartache, the last thing I desire to read is someone force-feeding me faith by way of easy answers. What I really need is someone who knows what it is to starve, has been to God’s lavish feast, and is able to invite me to the table to eat.
And Michele does exactly that.
No easy answers
She does not provide easy answers because every single conclusion to her faith is hard-won. And in the places she cannot give answers, she gives the next best gift: the gift of her wrestling.
“This wasn’t the disappointment of plans falling through. This was the crashing down of everything I’d once prayed for and dreamed of. Those who have endured a similar wrecking understand something of my deep confusion. I’d been faithful, followed Jesus my whole life. How could God allow me to end up broken and alone?”
Michele Cushatt, I Am
Is there any greater gift an author could offer her readers? To come forward and say, “Listen, I’m deep in this too. I have faced my greatest fears, I have questioned his goodness, I have walked away from my faith and then walked back. My perspective has shifted, my values remain, and in due course, my questions have not all been answered to my liking. And like you … I am wrestling. But we’re in this together. Not just you and me. We’re in this with God.”
And yet, she goes one step further beyond the questioning. She offers us the gift of faith. As a friend wise friend once told me, there can be no faith without doubt.
“Life without God was equally as painful as life with God. But life without God was absent of relief.”
Michele Cushatt, I Am
Acknowledging our doubts is not the antithesis of faith, but rather the doorway to it. Michele has walked through that door and is beckoning us to come:
- To believe that we are more than our sufferings. More than our failures. More than our aging bodies and fluctuating bank accounts.
- To believe that these struggles we face can be more than a maddening repercussion of sin, and can be a miraculous undertaking of God’s redemption if we let them.
- To believe that we have value, purpose, and security.
- To believe that while we may not be saved from every trial, we will be saved in it.
When I began Michele’s I Am, I believed I would be in for a good story to keep me reading, a few insights to boost my self-esteem, and a few words that would answer the questions about God I sometimes ache deep inside with. And I feared a book that might seek to placate my questions of faith in this hard life with platitudes and easy answers.
Instead, I found a fellow wanderer. A friend on this really demanding and sometimes outright painful journey called life. A friend who acknowledged the hurt, but also the hope, the joy, the safety of God. A friend who is ready to walk me back to God’s truth. A friend who knows what it’s like to starve, who has eaten from the feast of God’s table, and who has invited to come sit and satisfy my soul’s hunger.
And today I want to extend that invitation:
Come, sit. And eat to your fill.
Welcome to the Clutter Free Book Club, where I share the books I’ve been reading (and hopefully loving.) Each week I review a book I’ve read, and because I am living a Clutter Free life, I pass that book on to one of you. (This is a guest post)
To be entered into the drawing, just comment on this post within 7 days and you’ll be entered to win. But there is one catch: if you win the book, you have to promise to pass it on to someone else when you’re done (keeping this book club Clutter Free.)
When you comment below, share either:
1. A book you’ve read that you think I should put on my list
2. The name of the person you will pass this book onto when you’re done reading it!
Book giveaway open only to U.S. readers.
Rachel Lewis is a foster, adoptive and birth mom. After a 5-year battle with secondary infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss, she now has three children in her arms and a foster son in her heart. She is passionate about helping women feel heard and understood when building their family gets a little bit complicated. When she’s not chauffeuring her kids around, you can find her shopping at Trader Joes, drinking coffee, or writing about her journey as a mom at The Lewis Note. She is a regular contributor to Still Standing Magazine, Pregnancy After Loss Support, and The Mighty. You can get her free resource, “Your BFF Guide to Miscarriage: 5 Ways to Comfort a Friend Through Pregnancy Loss” here. Connect with Rachel on Facebook, or join her private Facebook group Brave Mamas — a support group for anyone who had to struggle to build their family.