Anyone who knows me knows I can be stubborn (insert corny joke here and have a wee laugh on me) it’s just one of the ABC’s of me. My best friend, Dylan (remember, names are changed to protect the guilty) knows this better than anyone – having known me and been a part of every happening in my life over the past 25 years. Thankfully, she loves me in spite of this shortcoming.

Several years ago, after she read it herself, my best friend gave me a copy of The Shack by Wm Paul Young. She had been energized and encouraged by the book and honestly thought I would be too. Enter the stubborn me.

Periodically, more frequently at first, but then finally tapering off to an once-yearly query, she would ask, “Have you started The Shack yet?” and each time I would reply, “No”. Even though I could tell it upset her, I couldn’t bring myself to read it. Honestly, I can’t even tell you why. It was nothing like the time I didn’t want to watch Lost because I had been told it was a reality show. To this day I cannot tell you why I was being so stubborn about reading this book.

Dylan hasn’t asked me if I’ve started The Shack in well over a year and the last time she did ask, her query was one of resignation, “Are you ever gonna read The Shack?” Looking back I know she believed in her heart that I would never read it. Never is a dangerous word.

I’ve been “church shopping” (I dislike the term, but I don’t know what else to call it) for about a year now and recently have been attending Eastlake Community Church (ECC). I was on their site and noticed that “Growth Groups” were getting ready to start up again so I decided to see if there was a growth group that might fit me. I found only one, titled simply, “Unpack the Shack”. I was excited … but I didn’t tell Dylan (I think I worried about getting her hopes up or perhaps I was just embarrassed that it had taken me so long to do what she asked).

What happened next felt like something out of Titanic or some other disaster movie. The group was set to meet each Tuesday starting on February 25th. On that first Tuesday my life (at least marginally) became a complete and utter mess:

  • Week one: terrible cold
  • Week two: best friend bad news
  • Week three: work offsite retreat
  • Week four: trip to urgent care

I felt okay missing week one, after all I had a fever – no one would have wanted me there. Week two, there was nothing for it, your best friend needs you, you go. Period. By the time I realized I was also going to miss week three, I was feeling like a loser fraud but even that embarrassment paled in comparison to sending an email to the group leader at 6:30p on week four telling him I was at urgent care, I felt so low and fully expected to be told, “We would rather you just not come since you’ve missed so much.” I had also begun to wonder if God was trying to tell me something.

To my relief, the leader was extremely gracious, telling me that he hoped I would be able to make it the next week. As far as the “signs” I decided they weren’t coming from God but, I will admit, as Tuesday approached I began to wonder if something would suddenly appear and keep me from going.

Tuesday night came and, to my great relief, I made it to group. I was welcomed warmly by the other members, who smiled and joked calling me “the fictitious lady”. I had a wonderful time. Up to this point, I’d been reading the chapters, but missing the opportunity to discuss them with the group.

I am excited, energized, and looking forward to the upcoming weeks. In a wee bit of irony, the group has decided to take the next two weeks off (due to travel schedules and spring break). I’m sad to lose this new momentum, but looking forward to renewed conversations about the book with this amazing group of people.

In “part 2” I’ll actually share my thoughts on the book. I will confess that I’ve cried a fair amount while reading it and I suspect more tears will fall before I’m done. Anyone who knows me, knows that I cry at sad books and movies…

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