Last week I posted a book review on, When we were on fire by Addie Zierman. I’d now like to add a few other thoughts.
My two oldest children are about the same age as Addie and lived through a similar time period, though my children were in Australia. However they lived through the ‘Meet you at the pole’, ‘WWJD’ (What Would Jesus Do), ‘I kissed dating good-bye’, and the ‘True Love Waits’ era. They also regularly attended Youth Alive rallies which sound similar to the youth events Addie went to. Yet they didn’t experience the trauma that Addie writes about and I expect there were many others in Addie’s church who also did not. Why not? I wondered. Perhaps the answer is in the story Addie tells in the prologue.
It’s the annual “Meet you at the pole day” where Christians gather at their school’s flag pole to pray. Addie arrives in the rain to find no one there but she insists on staying all alone to pray. What she didn’t realize was that the meeting place had been moved because of the bad weather. The revealing comments she makes is: “I wanted this. I wanted the empty courtyard, the chance to be a solitary figure at the pole. To be the only one bold enough, brave enough, passionate enough to stand in the rain for Jesus…I thought I was choosing something extraordinary. I thought this would all turn out differently.”
Addie wanted to be extraordinary, special and unique in other people’s eyes. I feel it was this need that caused to her be vulnerable to someone like Chris who led her to believe that to be extraordinary meant you had to be a “super-Christian.” Someone who would change the world by being a missionary on doing something significant.
The disillusionment really set in for Addie when she found herself married, working a regular job and living an ordinary life (not an extraordinary life) in the suburbs. However to her credit she works through her hurt and pain with the help of a therapist, a very supportive husband and some close friends. God is also gracious to her and protects her from long term harm when she makes some very poor decisions during a time of “rebellion.”
Addie has a lot of difficulty finding a church and this certainly isn’t easy wherever you live. Churches all have their own idiosyncrasies. Over time her expectations mellow and she finds a church community where she can be real. In the end Addie comes to the place where she understands that being a Christian means you’re unique and special in God’s eyes and that is enough.