Friday, April 13, 2012

"Crazy Love" by Francis Chan

(Originally titled: "My Possibly Oversensitive but Completely Genuine Reaction to the First Few Chapters of 'Crazy Love' by Francis Chan." I figured shortening would be a good idea.)

Francis Chan is a Christian writer that I've never read, and last week several of his ebooks were offered for free on Amazon, so I went ahead and purchased the three that were available. I've been making my way through "Crazy Love," his most famous of the three, and although from what I hear I agree with the message overall, he just happens to be accidentally hitting a bunch of my preaching pet peeves on the way there. :-)

In one of the last chapters I read, he told a story about a 14-year-old girl named Brooke. He shared an essay she wrote when she was 12 about being kind, joyful, and living life to the fullest, and then he shared the rest of her story.
During her freshman year in high school, Brooke was in a car accident while driving to the movies. Her life on earth ended when she was just fourteen, but her impact didn't. Nearly fifteen hundred people attended Brooke's memoral service. People from her public high school read poems she had written about her love for God. Everyone spoke of her example and her joy.

I shared the gospel and invited those who wanted to know Jesus to come up and give their lives to Him. There must have been at least two hundred students on their knees at the front of the church praying for salvation. Ushers gave a Bible to each of them. They were Bibles that Brooke had kept in her garage, hoping to give out to all of her unsaved friends. In one day, Brooke led more people to the Lord than most ever will.

In her brief fourteen years on earth, Brooke was faithful to Christ. Her short life was not wasted.
And this is what I jotted down on my Amazon Kindle account in response:
This is a cool story and I'm sure it's meant to be inspiring, but right now it's depressing me. 1500 people? I know I have made a difference in some people's lives, but it's certainly not 1500. This is all very "Go extroverts; introverts, be more extroverted" to me. My quality of life is NOT measured by how many people come to my funeral and get saved, thank you very much. My Christianity is NOT measured by the sheer numbers of people I reach by being exuberant and handing out Bibles to everyone. I am more than that, my faith is more than that, my God is more than that.

Now that I'm aware of the introvert/extrovert bias, I react so strongly against it when I run into it. I'm tired of being told I'm not a good enough Christian because of this crap. If I died tonight, I WOULDN'T have hundreds of people at my funeral who all had a story about how I touched their lives. I just wouldn't. And that's OK. Because the people I have touched matter, and they've been touched through me when they wouldn't have been touched through other people.
Seriously. This is the kind of story people like to tell in sermons, and they have no idea how distressing this is for people like me to hear. Yes, Brooke's testimony was great. Yes, she touched a lot of people's lives. Yes, that's wonderful.

But it's never going to happen like that for me. Not because of a lack of "living for God," but because I am not an extrovert and will not make 1500 friends in my entire life.

I think it's that last line that makes me the angriest - it's the one that hurts the most. "Her short life was not wasted."

So... does this mean mine is? Because my life looks nothing like Brooke's. Although I sure tried. In high school, I wanted so badly to be the person hundreds of people would point to as a great example of Jesus, the one everyone in youth group asked to pray with them, the one people confided in. Not because I was after fame, but because that's what I thought my life needed to look like. To be completely honest, I feel most of those years were wasted precisely because I was trying so hard to make that work. And no matter how hard I tried to be that person, it always fell flat and I ended up being the one on the outside.

Now? I enjoy being the person on the outside most of the time. (I secretly enjoyed it then, too, but it made me feel guilty. I assumed it was because I was just too lazy to live for God the way I was supposed to.) One of my major regrets about my life is that I wasn't able to figure out the truth about introversion earlier. If I hadn't been so busy trying to make myself fit the extrovert mold, I might have been able to reach out to people in a way that I was able to do... or at the very least, I might have been happier.

Francis Chan, I'm sure you didn't really mean most of this. You're just exemplifying the bias in the church. But I am so glad your book didn't exist in high school when I might have read it. That would be just one more story telling me my faith is measured by my exuberance, one more story I'd have to get rid of later when I started getting things straighten out.

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