In the section that lays out what this blog shall (should?) be, I mentioned I’m going to post reviews of books that are faith-centered in some way. First one up is Sister Freaks: Stories of Women Who Gave Up Everything for God.
I started reading this…a hellishly long time ago, I don’t even remember. Someone gave it to me–in college, maybe? High school, even?–as a sort of chuck-under-the-chin way to tell me to keep the faith. If I recall correctly, I didn’t actually have a faith to keep at the time, but I hid that well in the correct circles. So I got this book, and it moved around with me a lot, and I would read one story at a time and think, why the Dickens would anyone read this? These are all superwomen, people in impossible situations that have nothing to do with the life that I live. Suckers.
I’m not always proud of the way I react to things.
But as I read further, I realized this is a pretty good cross-section of women of faith–there are people who have been dead a hundred years and people who can’t legally drink yet, people who are in countries I only hear about on the news and people who live in states where I have family. Some of the stories are horrifying, especially when you realize that a lot of this kind of persecution is still happening in the modern “enlightened” age…but there is such faith, and such doubt, and such honest struggle with the idea that this God wants things from us that sanity rails against with all its strength.
I think that was the thing I appreciated most about this collection–there are definitely examples of women who heard what God was asking and responded, “Are You nuts?” Because people who believe without question aren’t relatable for me–more power to them for the strength of faith they possess, but I’m a Moses; I doubt, I hem and haw, I drag my feet and ask if there’s another way we could do this, I say it’s too hard or too time-consuming. But God is a patient deity, and reading the stories of Him waiting for us to get wise was a little Chicken Soup-type reminder (without being quite so terribly trite).
The other asset of the book was that, in addition to the (very short) stories, the “chapters” were designed as weeks of devotion with five questions at the end of each section for personal reflection and reaction to these lives. Obviously I followed these weekly designations to the letter, considering it took me over two years to read this book once I started, but that was okay. It didn’t need to be used as a full-on devotion like that, but I found that the questions were absolutely worth their salt once I started answering them honestly. They actually became more important than the stories, sometimes, as a way to examine how I was seeing the idea of living a life for God. And each questionnaire ends with “what verse was most important to you this week? Why?” I really appreciated that Scriptural grounding, that attempt to make the Bible a living part of your life rather than just a text to be read.
I had myself all psyched up to give this to a friend and be done with it, but I think I may end up hanging on to it. There are stories here that are worth remembering, even on the days when I feel much less like a freak that I’m perhaps comfortable with.
Rating Result: 3.5/5 stars