Because of the beautiful information source that is Twitter, I find myself reading a lot of different posts on a ton of different blogs. But there are only a handful I return to on a regular basis. About a year ago, I somehow stumbled across a particular blog. I liked the author’s style and I liked that he was close to my age and relatable. It became one of those few that I kept up with.
Fast forward to the beginning of the summer. One of my best friends was heading to work a boys’ camp in North Carolina. Browsing around the blogosphere the week he was heading out, I remembered that this particular blog author was also headed across the country from California to work camp in North Carolina. I never thought of the connection before, because the blogger hadn’t mentioned the name of the camp. When I found out they were both headed to the same place, I texted my friend and told him… and the rest of the story is recorded in that blogger’s new book, Struggle Central: Quarter-Life Confessions of a Messed-Up Christian.
I love this book, and not just because I sort-of make a cameo appearance. Tom and I have kept up with each other’s blogs in the past several months, and he’s even written a guest post for me. I thought he was a fantastic blogger, but once I read the first chapter of Struggle Central, I discovered he’s an even better writer of books.
Why should you read Struggle Central? Well, here’s a list of ways my friend Tom Zuniga made his first book awesome:
1. It’s honest. There’s an epidemic in American Christianity– one of pretend perfectionism. We hide our sins, our struggles, our flaws, attempting to maintain the guise of having it all together. Because of this, we’ve lost an important personal touch with a world that knows it’s broken. I think being honest about our imperfections is one thing my generation understands needs to be part of who we are as the Church– not exalting our sins, but making ourselves available to open, honest vulnerability. Tom gets that, and this entire book is a testament to how he is practically living out that vulnerability. He’s not hiding his struggles– he lays them out plainly before his readers, inspiring them to be open about their struggles, as well.
2. It’s beautifully written. I’ve read several debut e-books, even ones along this vein. None of them have been as well written as Struggle Central. Basically, it’s a collection of wonderfully told and heart-tugging stories from Tom’s life. His style of writing is descriptive, yet concise. Easy to read, yet eloquent and pleasing to the writer’s ear. Sincere and serious, yet friendly and funny. In all honesty, I haven’t been this excited about a contemporary author’s writing style since I discovered Charles Martin or Michael Snyder (who are very different, by the way). I’m not saying this because Tom’s my friend, I’m saying it because it’s true: I want to learn to write more like Tom.
3. It’s bold. When you’re truly honest about your struggles, especially to the point of detail that Tom is, it’s brazenly courageous. When you put your name on something that admits things about what you’ve done or who you are that others might not understand, might judge you for, might outwardly criticize you for– that takes serious guts. Tom’s willingness to share his struggles is inspiring, especially for people like me, who have always been terrified of what other people think. There’s a great element of trust that comes along with this level of boldness– trust in other people, that they will show you grace and empathy; and trust in God, that he will love you no matter how those other people react.
4. It’s relatable. That’s the importance of Struggle Central. It’s about Tom and his specific experiences and challenges. But it’s not just about Tom. It’s about your struggles and mine. They might not all be exactly the same, but we all have them. And we all can be inspired by the way others are honest about their struggles, how they are bold in facing up to them, and how they turn their struggles into a way to inspire others. If you look around the world, people are doing this every day. These are the extraordinary people, the ones who won’t settle for who they are today, because they’re too busy aiming for something better tomorrow. These are the strugglers who aren’t defined by their struggles, but by who they are when they resolve to work through them. They’re the fighters.
There’s another one to add to your list, Tom: brother, dreamer, observer, struggler, creator, wanderer, fighter.
Everyone else– take the time to soak up this book. It’s available for free to Tom’s e-mail subscribers for a limited time, and will soon be sold on Amazon and other online retailers. Let’s read together, learn together, struggle together, fight together.
COMMENT: Have you read Struggle Central yet? What did you think?