my beautiful idol, by pete gall.
spiritual memoirs are a tricky genre — they can be fantastic or horrible. i suppose this is true for all genres; maybe it’s just that writing a spiritual memoir takes a combination of messiness and will that is hard to find. but some of my favorite books fit this description:
dangerous wonder and messy spirituality, by mike yaconelli
take this bread, by sara miles
traveling mercies and grace (eventually), by anne lamott
blue like jazz, by donald miller
yaconelli talked about certain books being his friends. in that vein, these books are my friends.
that’s what pete gall has accomplished with my beautiful idol: he’s crafted a wonderfully written, messy, hopeful, humble, self-effacing, and funny reflection on his own bumpy journey. it’s ghastly at times, and gorgeous at times — just like my life.
gall’s story starts in young adulthood, as a rising advertising star in chicago, livin’ la vida loca. he experiences some great discomfort in the direction of his life, and senses he was made for something more, something deeper. and — at this point — something more grand.
what follows, in the next few years (the book really only covers a few years of his life), gall’s pursuit of jesus, and the calling he senses in his gut, slowly smashes down his grandiose notions about what this more/deeper life will look like. gall painfully acknowledges the idols he worships, deconstructs them, and discards them. of course, that’s never an easy or simple process, and it’s full of set-backs, confusion and waiting.
it’s this waiting that is particularly fantastic in gall’s story. he doesn’t figure anything out quickly, and has a string of jobs and ministry setttings, girlfriends, living situations, and belief sets — with a few a-has along the way.
great stuff. my story is very different than pete gall’s. but, as with all good spiritual memoirs, this book held up a mirror to my own journey.