In the middle of a bitter cold winter in Minnesota, a mom and her two young sons flee in search of the light and warmth of Florida. It is a desperate act, a search for inner light as much as sunshine, and it brings surprising results.
Night Driving: A Story of Faith in the Dark is Addie Zierman’s account of this road trip and the things she discovers–about herself, her faith, and God–along the way. (Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for my review.)
Some people called her brave to embark on such a trip, but it’s a badge Zierman is reluctant to wear.
My heart is not, in the end, cut from an adventurous, seafaring cloth. I am, generally speaking, a homebody, content with very little adventure in my life. I chose this trip not because I am brave but because I was desperate. (p. 5)
Zierman writes about how she could no longer feel God’s presence like she could when her faith was “on fire” in her youth and how she tried–and still tries–to fill the void with wine and flirting and anything that makes her feel something. Her trip with her boys, 4 and 2, was as much a search for sunshine as an attempt to escape from her own self. But as she journeys, she realizes that she can’t outrun the darkness, even in the Florida sunshine.
What I love about Zierman’s writing is that it doesn’t sugarcoat or paint a pretty picture. It’s gut-level honest. This dream of a road trip has its nightmares–as one might expect traveling thousands of miles in a van with two toddlers. There are numerous McDonald’s stops and bathroom breaks and a Diet Coke incident that made me want to give Zierman a hug. There’s rain at the beach and sleepless nights and doubts about whether this trip was a good idea in the first place.
But there are also precious conversations with friends, one glorious day at the beach, and subtle changes. Reminders that darkness and silence and solitude are part of the rhythms of faith, not evidence of the absence of faith.
Maybe I’m a snowbird–or maybe I’m not. Maybe all this ever was was a case of mistaken identity. I thought I needed to fly away to survive. I’d forgotten about the simple ways we are saved exactly where we are. (p. 178)
Through her own journey, Zierman grants us permission to wrestle with our faith when the light seems to have gone out, and to realize that we can see in the dark; our eyes just might need time to adjust.
If you’ve ever wanted to escape when the darkness closes in, to flee toward warmth when the temperatures start to dip, find encouragement in this book.
To launch the book, Zierman invited people to share their stories of faith in the dark places. You can read my contribution here and follow links to her site to read others’ stories as well.