CONFESSIONS OF AN AMATEUR BELIEVER
Some people dive into Christianity with a big splash. Others step into the river of faith one toe at a time. Patty Kirk would probably classify herself as the latter --- a kind of reluctant believer who found herself undeniably saturated with the reality of God.
In CONFESSIONS OF AN AMATEUR BELIEVER, she recounts her journey of faith --- one that highlights the pain and struggles of her past. Despite growing up around the church, Patty became a self-proclaimed atheist. She felt that the God of her childhood had abandoned her and she was in charge of her own life.
To compound matters, during Kirk's first year of college, her mother developed a brain tumor. A surgery to repair the damage left her mom almost blind and unable to regulate her own appetite. In the midst of so much suffering, Kirk describes:
"When I went home to see her, I would find her at my sister's kitchen table with a Bible in her lap. She couldn't read it, couldn't recognize me from my voice except, hesitantly, as 'my Patty,' a teenage version of myself if I no longer remembered. She couldn't even hold onto any one thought except to say over and over, as confiding and joyful as a child, 'Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me.' It was the most pathetic sight I had ever seen, this wreck of my mom, sitting cock-eyed and broken and patting her Bible, claiming this obvious lie to be true. I was always glad to get back on the plane and leave that part of my life behind me."
Kirk didn't just run hard and fast --- she ran as far as she could, living overseas for years. But Kirk couldn't shake the sense that God was present in her life. Present in her grief, anger, loneliness and pain. Ever present.
"I became a Christian in my thirties. I wish I could say that I welcomed Jesus as my Savior from the moment I heard his name as a child and that I submitted to him eagerly and dedicated my life to glorifying him, but in truth I would have to admit that I have always struggled to remain my own boss. I had to fight him off for an entire lifetime before I finally recognized my own ridiculous inadequacy to save myself and gave up the struggle. What a joy it is to exchange fighting for rest!"
CONFESSIONS OF AN AMATEUR BELIEVER chronicles this faith journey. The book itself is divided into four sections: Meeting God, Struggling, Progress, and Rest. While the majority of chapters tells Kirk's story, there are interludes of brief chapters that reflect on God and life. One of the best compares leaving everyday phone messages to communicating with God.
This book is well-written and teaches valuable faith lessons without a hint of being preachy. The raw, honest and vulnerable stories are relatable yet enjoyable to read. At times it seems a little bit jumpy --- adding pieces that are clever within themselves but don't necessarily fit within the overall flow of the book. But the journey is one worth taking for the reader --- one littered with rich nuggets of wisdom and wit.
CONFESSIONS OF AN AMATEUR BELIEVER would make a great rainy-day read. Many will be able to relate to the ups and downs of the author's life and find themselves within the story.
--- Reviewed by Margaret Oines.
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