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Monday, July 26, 2021

"The Gap Decade" (Katie Schnack)

TITLE: The Gap Decade: When You're Technically an Adult but Really Don't Feel Like It Yet
AUTHOR: Katie M. Schnack
PUBLISHER: Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2021, (224 Pages).

What do I want to do with my life? The immediate answer is: That depends. It depends on are our life circumstances. It depends on our dreams and aspirations. Most crucially, it depends on what stage of life we are in and how God is speaking to us. Waiting is one of the most difficult things we will face. In an increasingly distracted and impatient world, many people find waiting a chore. This is especially at the life stage of a young person moving toward adulthood. In a heartwarming, honest, and humorous manner, author Katie Schnack shares her many moments of waiting. Calling it the ten years between young adult and adulthood, these are the transitional years of waiting and working out on what one needs to do with one's life. She shares how she got to meet her future husband. One major challenge was the school years when their schools were at two different places. Her boyfriend's at South Dakota while hers was in Florida. Despite the challenges, they got married at 21 years of age in Minnesota even before they finish school! Life after that was filled with more questions surrounding graduate studies, careers, housing, starting a family, etc. The big shock of all was the question of calling never stops being asked. She describes seven major transitional phases in terms of her dating life; work choices; paying taxes and other adult duties; moving across states (5 states for her!); marriage; mental health matters; and parenthood. While each of them are unique challenges, the common denominator is in terms of what the best decision needs to be made with regard to one's calling and God's guidance. 

Schnack shares how she deals with each transition with witty words and thoughts about how she copes. On waiting for her next stage after college, she learns the value of community and shared stories among friends. On work, she learns that it is ok to change jobs without blowing one's thoughts among wrong job choices. Guided by boldness in taking steps of faith instead of indecision, she learns to discern the still small voice of God in terms of gracious acceptance and comforting presence. Finding the perfect job might seem an ideal dream but it is nevertheless something to hope for while dealing with the present unforeseen circumstances in life. Doing taxes too has a way of confirming one's adulthood. From filing as a single to providing tax returns as a family, she realizes that life does catches up on people in more ways than one. Schnack reflects on many lessons she learned. Lessons like:
  • One does not need more stuff but less in order to live better. 
  • Life is more fulfilling when filled with God's thoughts
  • Living a simple life is more fulfilling
  • Leaving home can be a powerful way to appreciate our roots
  • Being different is not necessarily bad. With God, change is always good.
  • God is always with us, whether we feel it or not
  • and many more.
My Thoughts
The author shares her thoughts about faith and life in a manner that is witty and humorous. At the same time, she challenges herself to tackle the basic questions of life and what it means to learn to live and to learn about transitions in life. Each transition is itself unique and is filled with different challenges to overcome. Some takes a bit longer than expected but they are all understood upon reflecting. This reminds me of how relevant a famous Danish philosopher had said. According to Søren Kierkegaard, life is best lived forward and understood backward. This is exactly what Schnack had done. When writing down her thoughts about her past struggles, she essentially showed us the many powerful lessons she had learned from her past. What is most heartwarming is that she invites readers along to learn with her. That is most delightful, considering that some of us don't even dare to ask the same questions aloud about ourselves. Questions like: "Is it ok to doubt God?" or "Is it wrong to be impatient in waiting for God?" and so on. Indeed, faith needs to be honest and sometimes we need to let our questions push the limits of our faith bubble. I think Christians need not fear asking tough questions about God. That is a good spiritual discipline. Asking questions does not necessarily mean doubting God. It simply means honest faith getting ready to moult into something mature and wholesome. 

Besides the honest component, what I like about this book is the way Schnack connects her faith with her own life, and the lessons she learns. While she may not be Annie Dillard or Anne Lamott, her writings contain insights that remind me of both these writers: Faith observations like Dillard and honest feelings like Lamott. Readers would appreciate the way Schnack resists running away from pet Sunday school answers and to gradually let reality sink in while she waits for faith lessons to be clarified over time. The author's primary audience appears to be from teens to young parenthood, I believe that her journey would help older age groups to remember their younger years and perhaps to learn their own lessons of faith as they reflect and reminisce on their youth. Most importantly, books like this assure those of us who feel alone that we are not necessarily alone. There are many others who go through the same phases in unique ways. We are all unique and our faith journeys comprise a part of the wider spectrum of God's work in our respective faith communities. God works in mysterious ways. He walks with us in ways that are beyond our wildest understanding. For those of us who have not thought much about our past, perhaps, this book could inspire us to do the same. That would in itself be the biggest reason for reading this book.

Katie Schnack is a writer and book publicist. She lives in West Palm Beach, Florida with her family. 

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of InterVarsity Press and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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