#21 Audible. Read by the author.

For the past two months I’ve been listening to a woman read her autobiography. A woman who I didn’t think much about — no strong opinions either way, yet a very polarizing woman in America still today. Some love her and some do not. So, when I saw she had written a book, and did the audible version herself – I wanted to know more. I wanted to hear for myself what she was like. It was more out of curiosity than anything, but I had a feeling if I read her, my opinions would change.

As I listened, the words of Bill Richardson rang in my head: I could be wrong. Bill’s words challenge me to embrace others with that notion; suggesting that we really don’t know what is going on in someone else’s life. We don’t know their back stories and the recurring tapes they have trouble erasing. We don’t know the hurts and the joys. Or the wounds and scars. And the bandages they’ve used to cover over all those emotional pains that render many guarded and ashamed at any age.

Straight from the author’s mouth. Listening instead of reading was a great way to actually feel her words. I could hear when she softened her heart and I could also hear when she still harbored resentment toward someone or some group. There was vulnerability as she admitted feeling hurt over comments made by the media. She showed me her side of a situation that was spliced and diced to fit a journalist’s preconceived notion about her.

I was also curious as to what it was like growing up black in the sixties and seventies. She’s four years younger than me. Remembering those times brought to mind my own thoughts of segregation in the South. Busing happened the year I was in the 7th grade. I still remember the crushing look on the face of a teacher when a couple of her two favorite boys had a horrific fight in the breezeway outside the cafeteria – one black – one white.

The early years were my favorite parts of her story; she seemed more mature at four than I am at fifty-nine. I found myself having great compassion on the kid who always questioned whether she was good enough.

We all have tapes that keep playing in our heads. Not pretty enough. Not smart enough. Not thin enough. Unlovable. Nonredeemable. You name it, we’ve probably all felt some of these things at some time in our life, and often we still feel them the minute we feel rejection by someone or an entire group of people.

This book made me thankful that I’m not famous. She didn’t want to be famous or in politics, and I believe her. Who would? When I hear that another person has jumped into the political race, I have to think, are they crazy? Or perhaps just narcissistic. Surely a bit of both.

This was a very long book. I’ve been called apolitical in the past, and still prefer to hold that distinction, so I’ll not comment much further.

Except to say … when you are looking to the world to make you feel good enough, you will always be in search mode. And I do believe she is still in search mode. Not in a bad way, but in “a still knowing you’ve got work to do” sort of way.

I was hoping she’d share more of her faith in the book. There was a smidge and I liked what I heard, but I wanted her faith to infuse every decision and every season of life. I didn’t see that. She surely has some views that don’t line up with Scripture, but as I read and cringed, I also thought, God’s not done with her. I know that to be true in my own life; where the gentle Savior let’s me know, now its time to work on this entrenched sin in your soul.

But I also know that God is not the kind of God you can keep in your back pocket and take him out when the going gets tough. You want to know if you’re good enough? No. None of us are. That’s why we need a Savior. And to be rescued from ourselves most of all. I think if Michelle were to wholeheartedly–with all her mind, soul and strength–embrace God for her eternal soul and current self-worth, she’d be quite the force.

I intentionally waited to the end to share the title, just in case you had your own preconceived opinions that needed challenging. Becoming Michelle Obama.

#22 Understanding Purpose
– A Bible study by Carolyn James, 2006.

If you know me well, you know that Carolyn is my hero. One of them. A big one. If you know her too, you know that she’s had lots of tapes whirling around in her head from childhood, and God has smashed them all. In a good way. I wish she’d read some of her books audibly – so I could listen to her voice and remember why it is that I love her so much.

This is a study meant to be done with other women in community. She has a couple of gems in there that I will close this blog with, but for now I shall say a prayer to the Almighty asking Him for the opportunity to one day do this book in community – perhaps in my studio around my wheel.

The Bible is a gracious, spacious place for women.

God’s purposes never fail — no matter what happens.

No matter where God puts us, we have kingdom work to do.

God created you to be like Him. Before you were born, He wired into your DNA the necessity for a relationship with himself. This is true with every woman. We are His representatives in this world — His eyes, and ears, His voice, His hands and His feet. He wants people who interact with us to get a taste of what He is like because of our character and how we treat them. It is a sober responsibility, an awesome privilege. There is no higher calling.