God’s Love of Outsiders Including the Outsider in All of Us
Bethany House Publishers, 2012
Let me begin by telling on myself. I’m the kid that cried whenever Rudolph got to the Island of Misfit Toys. I have always felt like I was on the outside looking in. So to read a book addressed to outsiders was both validating and encouraging.
Way back when I was in high school creative writing, I was introduced to Thompson’s poem, The Hound of Heaven. I was a relatively new believer at the time, but I remember writing a piece that compared the poem to Psalm 139. I was impactful then, and Gire’s handling of the topic and material not only brought back the old thoughts, but gave me even greater insight to consider.
I was interested in reading and reviewing this book from the perspective of what it had to say to those outside faith. What ended up surprising me was how much it had to say to those on the inside with pieces and parts of themselves still outside God’s care and forgiveness.
I appreciated the Gire includes the stories of Thompson, C. S. Lewis, Eugene O’Neil and Dorothy Day, and Annie Lamott along with his own. I felt as I was reading and going briefly through the study questions at the end of each chapter that I was being invited to add my story to theirs. Another thing that he does very well is draw from scripture, both the Old and New Testaments. He is quite learned regarding so many topics, but he doesn’t come across in a expert way that would be offish to the reader, either as an insider or an outsider.
Two things that Gire mentions, somewhat in passing, really stood out to me. The first is a quote that Gire uses by Brene Brown from The Hustle for Worthiness stopped me completely. In it she says, “we stand outside of our story.” The entire quote seems to explain Gire’s understanding of what it means to be an outsider. The other is his reference to the Runaway Bunny. I could pay off most of my credit card debt if I had a dollar for every time I read that children’s classic. But I never made the connection with running away from God. It works though and I will remember it for a long time.
For me, the highpoint of the book was Gire’s handling of the topic of shame. I have read many books on this topic, from Bradshaw to Wilson, but there was something in Gire’s presentation that makes it less overwhelming. For example, he describes coming to terms with his ADD—yet another issue I could relate to. The way he presents his journey reminded me of another book read long ago, Making Friends With Your Shadow.
This is not a long book, but it is deep. It is inviting, but not simplistic. It is personal, but also relatable. I recommend it. It is set up with study questions, but I think it would take a very close and trusting group to deal honestly with this material—or hopefully they would be by the time they were done.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Bethany House Publishers blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.