Have you ever felt like you and God needed couples counseling? I know there have been times in my faith journey when it would have been helpful. I know that even more after reading an amazing book by Susan Isaacs titled Angry Conversations with God: A Snarky But Authentic Spiritual Memoir. Isaacs shares her personal journey with God with wit, honesty, and a refreshing realness that shares her struggles with God – struggles to which most of us can relate. Work. Purpose. Relationships. Feeling abandoned by God, and hearing a friend describe faith as a love story, Isaacs decides to take God to couples counseling, “because we’re not getting along.” This book resonated with me so strongly that I couldn’t put it down – even when I had to get up early for a trip to St. Louis. Isaacs creates such a brilliant and hilarious picture of the beauty and delight of a living relationship with God. Even in the fighting, the frustrations, and the silence she makes you long for God. I’d rather be fighting and frustrated with a living God who passionately loves me than be obedient to an impersonal god. And this coming from someone who craves peace in life.
Here’s a great quote from the book:
I thought I was over him! So why did my heart still rip? Why did I still feel this sorrow? I got this strange sensation that God was with me. And he was angry. He was very angry–not at me and not at Jack. God was angry at the pain I was going through. I wondered if that was why God hated sin, because of the destruction it caused. For a moment I felt awe for a God who loved me enough to hate the things that hurt me without hating me for causing them.” ― Susan E. Isaacs
I walked away from the book with two significant feelings and challenges. First of all, it truly created in me a desire for more intimate conversations and moments with God. I just wanted to be still. No agendas. No requests. I wanted to chill with God – in a hammock, with a great breeze, no conversation. Okay, maybe an occasional one-liner from God about Pat Robertson or cheesy Christian merchandise. But really, I crave to delight more in the Lord and talk way less about my desires. Plus, I laughed. A lot. Isaacs is hilarious and very real with a dash of irreverence. (That’s code for “she sometimes uses words my mama told me not to say.”)
The challenge I walked away with was wondering how I’ve created God in my image. A key part of Isaacs’s journey is understanding the voice that she has forced upon God based on her experiences, her own voice, and the people that have come and gone in her life. It is difficult to assess that on your own because you are so enmeshed in it. But reading this book and seeing Isaac identify the voice that is her voice and not God’s voice, I wondered what of me is in my view of God. How have I made God in my own image. How has western Christianity made God in our cultural image. That isn’t an overnight discovery.
Angry Conversations is a treasure in an age of rampant prosperity gospel messages from the church and Christian leaders. We think we are owed so much by God and throw royal fits when God appears to not hold up his end of the bargain. There is no bargain. We aren’t owed anything. What we are gifted with is a God who will be our God. A God who loves us deeply and really is full of amazing grace. It isn’t just a song or a cool poem to cross stitch. No one wants to be used – God included. I’m deeply grateful for that reminder by Susan Isaacs.
- Buy it here.
- Go to your local library and check it out. If they don’t have it, organize a campaign to get it. But be creative. Threaten to dog-ear every book in the library until Isaac’s book arrives. That should start some angry conversations.
- Angry Conversations was named a Top-Ten Religion Book of 2009 by Publisher’s Weekly and Relevant Magazine. And they know books, folks.
- Susan was interviews on CNN’s Faces of Faith. Watch it.
- “Funny, biting, earthy and brillant.” Publisher’s Weekly
- “If King David were a woman, and funny, he’d be Susan Isaacs. — Donald Miller.
- “A brilliant comic idea.” — Jim Gaffigan, actor and comedian.
- “Like “The Shack” for the rest of us.” – CBN
- “Hilarious. Why Didn’t I Think of That?” – Melissa Hatfield
Any books or movies that you’ve read or seen lately that you would recommend? Leave a comment and let the rest of us in on it. We have a long weekend ahead.