So my parents read this book. Wm. Paul Young's The Shack. They were both blown away, and they even used it for a book discussion at their church. They told me about it before the discussion and told me they would pass it along when the group was over. In the meantime, my boss and several other people also recommended it. I have to admit- that when a book gets that big of a build-up I have a tendancy to avoid it because I honestly don't want to be let down. Right around when Mom and Dad finished and gave it to me, I joined a book club on Facebook and since they were looking for books to read, I suggested this one. I still wasn't sure I wanted to get into it, but the premise to this one really piqued my curiosity. God (aka Papa)as a large black woman? Jesus as a middle eastern man? The holy spirit (Sarayu)as a small oriental woman? Taking a man back to the sight of his worst tragedy to meet God in person? Where could this story go?
Then I read it. It honestly blew me away. I was so enthralled with it that when I finished it, I told my fellow bookies that I wanted to read it again- with a highlighter- before I discussed it. Saturday afternoon, I got through three quarters of it again with my highlighter. I am sure that as I review it again and again- and I AM keeping it- and as I discuss it with my group there will be so many exciting things to write about but today I want to touch on my three biggest takeaways.
In this book, Jesus asks Mack where he lives the most of his life- in the Past, the Present or the Future in his own mind. Like many of us, Mack spends a lot of his time in the past and the most of the rest of the time trying to figure out this future. We spend very little time just living in the present. Why do we do that? Our lives go by so quickly as it is and here we are thinking about what was and what will be rather than what is. One of my new goals is to retrain myself to live NOW- not focus so much on the past and the future. SO- if you see me falling into that trap- call me on it!
The second thing that really touched my core was the relationship between Papa, Jesus and Sarayu. It was a relationship that awed Mack as well. Several times they talked about the dynamics and the best description was that it was a circular relationship. There was no Chain of Command amongst them. Because there was no concern with power and because they considered themselves all equal, it freed them to be able to be as concerned for one another as for themselves. Is that something that we, as people can achieve? Can we learn to let go of the importance of our own wants and put our mates wants and needs as equally important to our own? There is so much more to it than this, but I haven't figure out how to articulate it and I think that as I figure this out I will figure out how to apply it to ALL of my relationships- and perhaps by example, start a small revolution within my world.
The final thing that had an impact for me was the importance of forgivness. This is something that I have been working toward and struggling with for several months now and I think that is why it so resonated with me. The very important part for me is this: "Forgiveness does not establish a relationship." and further "Forgiveness is first for you, the forgiver...to release you from something that will eat you alive..." I think for me, that has been the sticking point. I have always felt that by forgiving I was giving the okay to be back in my life as if nothing had ever happened, but I have learned from this book that that is not how it has to be. I don't need to have people who have wronged me in my life- I need only forgive them and then move on. That way the anger and irritation that festers inside me can be banished and I can put more positivity and gratitude in its place. That would be a much better place for me mentally, physically and emotionally. So that is my biggest goal. To open my heart and forgive those who have hurt me and mine in the past and then choose the ones that I want to reestablish a relationship with and not have any guilt about any that I don't.
If I can acheive these three things, I will be filled with grace and peace. I am so thankful that this book was available to touch my life in this way. I look forward to sharing more with you as I go on.