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Struggle Central: Quarter-Life Confessions of a Messed Up Christian Kindle Edition
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I am reminded of Romans 3:23.... For all have fallen short of the glory of God. The nobody's perfect verse. Tom invites us into various and pivotal stages of his life where he is uprooted from his precious "Eden" to a foreign land. He later has to endure and maneuver the social jungles of school and church while harboring a sort of social anxiety in his attempts to interrelate with people especially men coupled with longing for some degree of normalcy. He experiences a gamut of emotional struggles like fear, despair, sadness, guilt and his own battle with SSA (same-sex attraction). The author opens up his audience showing that he is as messed and broken like the rest of us, but at some point takes solace in his struggles in how God uses them to mold him internally. This is no self-help book with a divine or revolutionary answer to life's mysteries, yet it is one man's humble account demonstrating his own hardships can yield reflective and edifying milestones.
Right from the beginning, TMZ makes one thing clear: Although Struggle Central is his story, it isn't really about him. The book is meant neither to shock nor impress its readers with his mistakes and triumphs. Its purpose is to encourage. It tells its readers, “You’re not alone!”
In Struggle Central, TMZ is remarkably honest, seeming to hold back nothing, making some heavy confessions. This is a book about loneliness, insecurity, fear and isolation. It deals with pornography, homosexuality, shame and doubt. If I wrote a memoir, I doubt I could be so vulnerable.
In all its confessions, Struggle Central tempers honesty with its strong sense of purpose. The book could easily have been a pleading, self-conscious cry for attention. It could have been a halfhearted attempt at openness, gilding its mistakes with excuses and rationalizations. Struggle Central is neither of those things. Its confessions are made as evidence of the book’s fundamental message: “You are not alone; there is hope.”
A number of the confessions in the book resonated with me. As an introvert, I relate to TMZ’s failed attempts to connect with people in churches. As a sinner, I understand the rationalization, shame and self-loathing in TMZ’s struggles to overcome pornography. As an insecure person, I know TMZ’s discouragement at how everyone else seems to be talented, successful or perfect. Struggle Central may not touch all of its readers, but it sure touched me.
On a literary level, Struggle Central has a surprisingly strong narrative. It recounts not a random string of events, but a structured story. TMZ doesn't merely spit out facts. He highlights certain experiences, adding digressions and flashbacks wherever necessary to keep his story flowing smoothly. In the book’s story and structure, nothing is wasted.
The style of Struggle Central is a different matter: the book is packed with modifiers. If I had a penny for every qualifier, adjective and adverb, I would probably have enough cash to buy coffee at Starbucks.
Despite its many modifiers, the writing in Struggle Central isn't bad. It’s engaging, readable, informal and crammed with sentence fragments and one-sentence paragraphs for emphasis. All the same, my nitpicky sensibilities were rubbed the wrong way by the constant use of modifiers and dramatic sentence fragments. The more they were used, the less impact they made. There were also a few puns and pop culture references that made me roll my eyes.
In the end, though, the writing takes secondary consideration to the book’s message and purpose—and these are excellent. Struggle Central has a clear and positive purpose, and it does a fine job of sticking to it. It could use a little polish, yet Struggle Central is a touching read for anyone who struggles—that is, for any human being on Earth.
One way or another we all struggle with something. There are deep wounds in our lives that need to be healed. And you cannot begin to heal as long as you don't realize how much you are messed up.
But there is hope... Hope in a Savior who knows you deep down of what you show to everyone else and still loves you. Hope in a Savior that saw through that brokenness and decided you were worthy to die for, because He loved you. Hope in a Savior that has been and will ever be with you. That's the beauty of Christ.
C.S. Lewis said it right when he said: to love is to be vulnerable. I would only add: "and to be honest". You can't truly love or truly show love through a mask...
Written with both, brutal honesty and vulnerability, struggle central takes you through Tom's journey to places of yourself you've never been able to see and admit they are there. You can identify with some or many or all of the struggles almost immediately, but Tom does't end up there, He towards the end of the book, leads you to the beauty of redemption in a story that still being written and will only be completed when Christ return. He leaves you with hope for what's coming and with the desire to cling on God to keep writing your own story. A story about love. His love for you, and your love for Him.
I totally recommend it for anyone. Read and be ready to go in a Journey that it's not about Tom, in the end, it's all about Christ, The ONE we struggle for.
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Tom set out for “greater transparency and deeper empathy with others – to be known...Read more