After a month of social distancing with an uncertain future ahead of us, words of encouragement from trusted authors are just what is needed to sooth the soul. This month I’ve read two books that could not have been released at a more perfect time. On the Bright Side: Stories about Friendship, Love, and Being True to Yourself by Melanie Shankle and Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire: The Guide to Being Glorious You by Jen Hatmaker.
On The Bright Side was released just a couple of weeks before Covid-19 really hit the United States and Fierce Free and Full of Fire was released today. I’m sure these two authors were crushed that they had to birth their book babies amidst a global pandemic when the last thing on people’s minds is ordering books but honestly, there could be no better time to read them than right now.
They are both essay style books. On The Bright Side is a look at the everyday, mundane, sometimes silly, and sometimes really difficult parts of life. The twist is that Melanie is always able to turn it around and find the bright side of her life circumstance. Isn’t that just what we need right now? To look on the bright side of this global mess that will forever shape the way we live our lives, alter the global economy, and be written about in history books.
When I read the first chapter I wanted to hug my friends until they were gasping for air. I wanted to hand each one of them a tambourine and do a crazy dance that would make Woodstock revelers wonder what was wrong with us. Just read the book, you’ll understand.
Fierce Free and Full of Fire is an honest look at the lessons Jen has learned over the years and how she has grown from them. I received an advance copy and every other page is highlighted and dog-eared no joke.
The chapter titled I Believe In Spiritual Curiosity has a highlight on every single page. I have pretty much been breaking down and building my faith back up since I was a middle schooler in Bible class. I have a vivid memory of our teacher explaining the concept of predestination and that our denomination founder, John Calvin, constructed this theology and thus it is what we will all believe. End of story. A red flag was raised in head and my scrawny little 12-year-old self pushed back. That flag has been waving in the breeze ever since.
Maybe I should be thanking that teacher. Because of his insistence on a certain theological interpretation of scripture, I have picked apart and pulled on loose strings around my belief system until they unraveled and I have to weave them back together.
All that to say, Fierce Free and Full of Fire will leave you wanting to write your personal manifesto. So, go ahead…look on the bright side and write that manifesto. All you’ve got is time on your hands.