“a good story in which to learn to fail”

I just finished reading Lauren Winner’s new book StillIt’s a series of reflections on life after losing her mom, ending her marriage and trying to figure out if the God she once passionately confessed is really there at all. Life, as she says, “in the middle.” In some places I found myself revelling in her soul-pricking insight while others left me scratching my head, but part way through I made a decision. I decided to exchange any ambivalence I had over her journey (this woman I didn’t even know) for acceptance of who she was in the pages before me –a gifted, thoughtful woman authentically pursuing her God.

This snippet, perhaps my favorite in the book, is a beautiful picture of why I’m glad I did:

“It turns out the Christian story is a good story in which to learn to fail. As the ethicist Samuel Wells has written, some stories feature heroes and some stories feature saints and the difference between them matters: ‘Stories . . . told with . . . heroes at the center of them . . . are told to laud the virtues of the heroes–for if the hero failed, all would be lost. By contrast, a saint can fail in a way that the hero can’t, because the failure of the saint reveals the forgiveness and the new possibilities made in God, and the saint is just a small character in a story that’s always fundamentally about God.’

“I am not a saint,” says Winner. “I am, however, beginning to learn that I am a small character in a story that is always fundamentally about God.”

Ditto.

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