I was at a N.C. beach on our family vacation just after Lee Dingle died in an internationally reported accident just a couple beaches away in 2019. I had long followed his spouse Shannon on social media and couldn’t believe it. When people say, “I can’t imagine” I always think, “Actually, I can imagine this.” I’m surprised when it doesn’t happen to me. And yet it still felt unreal.
With that little clue about my own pathology, I can’t stress enough how essential this book by Shannon Dingle is for anyone who has experienced trauma, loss, mental illness, addiction, and/or all forms of disability. Her writing is engaging. Her theology is spot on. Her story is horribly tragic and yet we can all relate because she authentically walks us through the parts of life’s that crush us – or threaten to crush us.
I jotted down several needlepoint pillow-worthy sayings:
- Bravery is never meant to be an excuse to be a dick. That’s not really brave, y’all. That’s a jackass in a unicorn costume.
- When we’re brave, we’ll make some people unhappy.
- I had just pretended for so long that I thought I was telling the truth.
- The beauty of fundamentalism is how clear the rules are.
While reading Living Brave: Lessons from Hurt, Lighting the Way to Hope, I felt like I’d experienced several appointments with my own therapist. And the insights are important.
There are lots of Christian women who have become our mentors through their writing: Glennon Doyle, Brene Brown, Rachel Held Evans, Kate Bowler. Shannon Dingle is like them and not like them. Yes, read all those excellent authors. And spend a chunk of time reading Living Brave this summer because we all need it, especially in these days.