Currently Reading: Bandersnatch

Well, to be truthful, I’ve just finished the book. I had to wait until the very end to write this because it stretched me and I needed to know where it finished.

The title alone tells you that this book falls wildly outside of the ordinary. The author manifests a purposefully unconventional approach to Christianity and what it means to live out our unique faith walks. She encourages the reader to slough off the confines of conformity and allow the same space for others so we might all experience true relationship with each other and our Creator.

Bandersnatch is floral, which is my way of saying there is a poetic nature to the writing style that I don’t immediately cling to and there are also some points of theology which the author and I would likely disagree on, but it’s also beautiful in that it reminds the reader that Jesus pulled up a seat for each and every last one of us at His table, that He meets us where we are, and that all of us are a reflection of Him. Even those in the midst of the dark grip of addiction and destruction.

Some facts:

  1. I picked this book up in November of 2016.
  2. Erika Morrison, the author of this book, and I just so happen to be Facebook friends.
  3. As I have come to learn through these pages, she and I have very different personalities. Her call to action and mine look different – and, as she explains throughout her book, that’s a good thing.
  4. Erika and I have never actually met but I was introduced to her family long before Facebook ever matched us through stories of my husband’s childhood. Their families grew up together and I have had the divine advantage of being able to check in with Freddy from time to time while reading this book to confirm, “This is real?”
  5. And lastly this: It was planned that this book sat on my shelves for so long. I wouldn’t have finished reading it if I had started when I purchased it. I needed to learn a few things about myself first.

 

In Bandersnatch, Erika gives example after example of what it looks like to seek the face of God in the marginalized. She’s a feeler and she wraps up the poor and panhandling in her arms as if they were her biological family. Those of you who know me know that I had to put the book down and take deep breaths after reading about her desire for physical closeness with others throughout these pages.

I have a history of feeling condemned when challenged to get out and love people in a physical way. I am not a physical person. Even in high school, I had to be reminded when meeting new friends and family of my then boyfriend that “These people are huggers. Just go in and be the first to hug.” That coaching came from a place of understanding of who and how I am but over time I started to see forced interactions as personal failures.

I’ve been told I’m intimidating more than once which I am sure comes from my standoff demeanor in uncharted situations. And, let’s be honest, also for my wide-eyed, open mouthed glares at people who aren’t. I don’t hate you – I just really don’t want to be hugged by you.

There is this small group of women that I’ve fallen deeply in love with. We call ourselves the tribe and I was just able to remark this past Thursday that while I was initially so drawn to them by our similarities, I am now so deeply committed to them through our differences. Lord help me, I have huggers in that group. These women squeeze me until I squirm and they know full well that my stiff-as-a-board response has nothing to do with my measure of love for them.

And I think, in perhaps an unexpected way, this is what the author is really asking of me. To be my authentic, non-hugging self and to let my own authenticity provide space for others to be theirs. So, no, I don’t think I will be going out downtown to wrap my arms around a stranger anytime soon but I am starting to envision what my form of love looks like for strangers. Is it coming along side someone to teach life skills? Is it asking more stories and making more conversation for the sake of knowing God through the people around me?

Whatever it looks like, it has to be my own method of madness. Not someone else’s. I also know that there is a place for the feelers and a place for me at the table. We’ll break bread and drink wine together and when it’s time to leave, I’ll go in the for the handshake and they’ll go in for the hug.

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