Beautiful Nate is touching people.
Sad notes have come to us from many heart-broken people who are slowly seeing healing happen.
People wearing masks on the outside and whose hearts are broken and almost unmendable on the inside.
Some are written to Pastor David Snyder, who was Nate's pastor in jail. For one full year, David met with Nathan. Some are written to me.
This is a note from one such individual who was touched by Pastor David's chapter.
May more and more people reach out on my Facebook Author page and on this site.
Pastor David Snyder developed a strong and encouraging dialog with this reader, just as he did with my son.
Here's the email that first came his way -- and then from him to me. It is published by permission, named withheld.
His answer(s) to the ongoing dialog may be published shortly.
Subject: Re: Beautiful Nate
Date: August 13, 2013 12:06:16 PM MDT
To: David Snyder
Thank you so very much for responding to my email. I can imagine that you are a busy man, so your personal response is meaningful. Yes, I am grappling with pain and confusion in my soul, in my mortal estimation, due mostly to the basic evangelical experience and also being part of one of its more fundamental and dogmatic congregations. Yet, I do desperately want to believe there is a purpose behind the pain and a way through it and back to a relationship with the Body of Christ, in particular, the (flawed, but sincere) congregation I walked quietly away from two years ago.
I was not raised with faith, but somehow, like most of the unbelieving population, came to certain conclusions of what Christians were supposed to be like: truthful, humble, righteous etc... I came to Christ in my early 30s not by the example of the scant Christians in my circle of influence, but through hearing the Gospel preached by an evangelist. Like the chapter you contributed to "Beautiful Nate", written words -- God's Words, have always been the main avenue in which truth has penetrated my soul. Yet I understand, that the truth of our faith is not a "series of propositional statements we are supposed to learn to acquire the right doctrines and worldviews" but a "daily transforming reality in the person of Christ."
Having said all this, I have read and reread the chapter you wrote and sense the truth in it, but am still trying to wrap my spirit around certain points.
(Pg. 191) "He was trapped and blinded by what he thought others owed him" and "no amount of penance would resolve this confusion." "Personal repentance and remorse is the only remedy for the misery inflicted on us by resentment."
You talk about contrition and our need to be willing to give it also.
(192) That "hunger cannot be quenched with anything besides Jesus' life." That "surrender is earthy, practical and tangible. Relationships, actions, and attitudes change in us when we repent." That "we need a brutal encounter with the reality in the person Jesus was."
And I ask sincerely, "What does my repentance and remorse have to do with it?"
(193) That "Jesus (wants) (our) entire life."
(194) "Somewhere along the way, in the perennial cycle of difficult relationships and painful events, he became convinced God wasn't good to him. With growing accusation he set out to find goodness on his own. God, not others, was the true source of his misery."
(197) "[Yet] the church also became an extension of his pain and disappointment. Nate wanted to experience love in ways others misunderstood. His temperament & personality were outside the norm. Traits like his don't bode well in a "middling" church."
(198) "Relationships seemed forced and more often than not, he came to realize he had to either conform to standards that didn't make sense to him, or forgo fitting in and being accepted. He felt ostracized, rejected, and an outsider with no way in. To cross the threshold into acceptance he had to surrender and couldn't. He didn't want to be hypocritical and rejecting like the people in the church who misunderstood and rejected him. So he rejected much of what the church represented and many people along the way. Yet in the end, he did become like them. What we focus on, we become."
(199) That "a critical, offended spirit is always looking for something---something that it perceives was withheld or taken that shouldn't have been."
(200) I, too, find myself sitting in judgement of the church for its weakness, pride, and inconsistencies. Could God be trying to break my heart and remove my bitter arrogance?
(202) "When the truth is presented as a set of defined presuppositions, "ideas and images" we miss the point altogether."
So how do I experience Jesus' truth and salvation in a way that will help me transcend this tendency of the evangelical culture?
(203) How can I truly know Him, so I can walk in truth and freedom?
(204) How can I avoid the "victim" mentality?
(205) And again, what does my own remorse and repentance have to do with it?
(206) Lastly, can you expound more on exactly how the answer lies in "truth and forgiveness" and in "humility and unity". Making mistakes, growing through them and then moving on, especially when others around me fail to play by the same rules?
I sense TRUTH in the statement "LIFE COMES when we refuse to play the role of entitled victim and surrender ourselves to God's transforming grace."
(207) "When we hold on to Jesus."
Your prayers and any further words of wisdom and encouragement would be so greatly appreciated. I love God and above all else want to know Him and the power of His resurrection.