By Michelle DeRusha
Convergent, $14.99, 223 pages
Michelle DeRusha grew up Catholic, which in her world means growing up with the overshadowing threat of the devil and eternal damnation as well as the guilt from sin. In childhood, she stole from a classmate. She did not get caught, but that event overshadowed her relationship with God through much of her life. The resulting crisis or lack of faith created her feeling of being a Spiritual Misfit.
“I had always been a “when…then” girl. When I got into college, then I’d be happy. When I got married, then I’d be happy. When we bought a house, then I’d be happy. … Would it ever end? The answer, of course, was no. It would never end if I kept measuring my joy, contentment, and fulfillment on a yardstick, chipping away at each inch and foot, mechanically checking off life’s milestones. It would never end as long as I continued to compare myself to everyone else. It would never end, I would never find true joy, true contentment, until I put God, not myself, first. And not just once in a while, but all the time.”
Much of her story takes place after she marries and moves from Massachusetts to Nebraska because of her husband’s job. She experiences several levels of culture shock, from the locals’ deep devotion to the Huskers to being a questionable believer in the midst of the Bible Belt. Eventually, she comes to grips with her own beliefs in the midst of a Lutheran congregation.
DeRusha’s story is told with humor and honesty. She intersperses her story with quotes from religious writers and scripture. One drawback is her often negative description of her physical self, as both a mother and a believer. The story, though familiar, is sweetly told and easy to read.
Reviewed by Mary-Lynne Monroe
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