It's 2017. A new year. Many people make resolutions that often go unkept but I decided to make one that I plan to keep: read more books. My goal is to read at least five books this year and I also want you to join me in taking this challenge - "The Read More Challenge" if you will. Now, I'm not talking about reading a bunch of novels just for the heck of it. I'm talking about books that challenge us. Books that inspire us to improve our lives. I have several lined up on my reading list and I will post some thoughts and reactions about each as I finish reading them. Feel free to drop me a comment at any point in this series with reading suggestions of your own. I'd love to hear them!
That being said, I introduce you to my first book as a part of "The Read More Challenge": Unashamed by Lecrae. Technically, I started it in 2016 but I just finished it and think it's an excellent starting point for this series. Lecrae is a two-time Grammy Award-winning rap artist, a guy for whom I've been a fan of for quite awhile, and Unashamed is essentially his life story. The book chronicles Lecrae's fair share of adversity - child abuse, drug addiction and alcoholism, an abortion a stint in rehab and an unsuccessful suicide attempt - as well as his attaining of a faith in Jesus Christ and overcoming that adversity to pursue his calling. It's written by Lecrae himself, which makes it all the more personal.
Unashamed truly challenged me to take an in-depth look at my own life. I never knew Lecrae's story nor did I understand the adversity he overcame to get to where he is now. The book also renewed my faith in God, something that's always welcomed especially after the year I had in 2016. After losing my grandma and my dad within four months of each other - and going through all the crap associated with it - I often found myself questioning God. Why would He let a 24-year-old, who's fresh out of college and just starting his professional career, go through something like this? I had to put on my big boy pants fast. I had to learn a lot of new things about going through the death of family members even though I'd been through it before. For example, planning my dad's funeral myself, with every last detail of the service being my decision. I'd never had to do something like that. Ever. To top it off, the pastor who was suppose to officiate the service fell ill the day before, prompting a mad rush to get someone to do the job at the last minute. I fretted so much during this time, I had a first ever bout with vertigo. It was frightening.
My faith in God was tested to the max in 2016 and Unashamed couldn't have come at a more perfect time for me. I felt awful that I questioned God and his plan. However, Lecrae's book made me realize that I'm not alone. I'm not the only one who experiences tribulations in life and questions God for them. Reading the book was a thought-provoking and a refreshing experience, that's for certain. I'll leave you with a thought from a friend that I believe ties in perfectly with Unashamed as well as my journey in 2016:
I look back on 2016 and feel that I coasted through. I spent my time worrying too much and questioning God when I should have "kept the faith" as they say and trusted His plan. Whether you are a person of faith like I am or not, I think we can all agree with my friend's statement above. Our time on Earth is precious. Every second counts. It's our choice whether we wallow in our self-loathing if something doesn't go as planned or keep pushing through to reach our dreams and aspirations.