“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” -Rainer Maria Rilke
About Confessions of a Prodigal Daughter (from Amazon):
In a bittersweet twist of fate, I started out “too Jewish” for my Catholic friends in elementary school, but not Jewish enough for the kids I met at summer camp, with their youth group logos and wristbands. In Israel, I didn’t feel I had the right to call myself Jewish at all. Now I was too Christian for Jews everywhere, but still too Jewish to completely fit in with my new bible study friends. In my most pessimistic moments, I wonder if I’ll never fit in anywhere, with anyone. It’s interesting because Christians are called to be pariahs, to go against the ways of this world. But I am a special kind of pariah.
About Sarahbeth Caplin (from Amazon):
Beth is a stay-at-home author, blogger, editor, and freelancer in northern Colorado with a degree in English Literature from Kent State University and an MFA in progress at Colorado State. Her first book, Confessions of a Prodigal Daughter, ranked #1 in Amazon’s top 100 bestselling books on personal growth in summer of 2015.
I give Confessions of a Prodigal Daughter by Sarahbeth Caplin 5 out of 5 stars.
I have mad respect for Sarahbeth Caplin. I read a post on her blog a little over a year ago – something about marriage not being a reward for singles in the church (I am paraphrasing, but you get the idea) -and I’ve been following her ever since. In addition to writing one of the most thought-provoking blogs I follow, she has also authored some fantastic YA/NA novels that grapple with heavy topics, and a collection of poetry. (I have yet to read her newest, A Stunning Accusation, but it’s on my list).
I think Sarahbeth Caplin is a brilliant writer, so naturally, I went into Confessions with high expectations. I wasn’t disappointed.
Confessions of a Prodigal Daughter details Caplin’s captivation with the God-man, Jesus, a taboo interest in her Jewish family, and her questions about how Christianity and her Jewish heritage can work together, if they can work together at all. She doesn’t shy away from the cost of following Jesus, especially as it plays out in her life.
I can’t overstate how incredibly important this book is, especially for those of us from a heritage of Protestant Christianity, who really don’t know anything different, and who have really not experienced any kind of discomfort for the belief that God became man in the person of Jesus to restore us to Him. (Oh, I know we think we have…) Although I am certain she would not say she’s been persecuted, Caplin’s journey of following Jesus has been far less comfortable than most of ours, but unlike most of us, she doesn’t seem to think it should be easy. (Mind-blowing, I know).
If you’re looking for a challenging read about a young women’s faith identity, I highly recommend Confessions.
That being said, if you read this book, or any of Caplin’s writing, you will encounter some frustration with Evangelical Christanity. Being a second generation Evangelical (and deeply proud of that heritage), Caplin’s work does raise defensiveness in me from time to time, and if you’re from a similar background, it will in you as well. That’s okay: we don’t always have to agree with each others’ conclusions to recognize and respect an important voice. Caplin’s is such a voice. Don’t miss out on her story because it’s not yours, or what you think it should be.
While this may not be a happily-ever-Christian book, Caplin brings around again and again to what really matters: Jesus. Caplin freely admits,
My story of faith is—and continues to be—a process where I learn a little more, backslide and contemplate giving up, take sabbaticals from prayer only to realize I miss God and come crawling back, and come close to brushing up against some truths while struggling to comprehend others…
I continue pressing on because, as confusing as Christianity can be, I still believe Jesus is a man worth knowing. A man worth living for.
(Can I get a witness?)