You Will Find Sanctuary With Lily Burana

You Will Find Sanctuary With Lily Burana
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Photo by Elizabeth Unterman Photography

To say that Lily Burana is talented is an understatement. She has a way with words that is both comforting and heroic. Lily’s latest book Grace for Amateurs: Field Notes on a Journey Back to Faith (Thomas Nelson, 2017) releases October 31, 2017. The book is about a quest – Lily’s quest for relief. Grace for Amateurs is a response to a common feeling of depression, an idea that you aren’t enough, and the misconceptions that go along with all of it. Desperate for air, Lily turned to a last resort – faith.

“Take the feelings, and take yourself, very seriously. We are entitled to every feeling we have - even the ones that aren’t so pleasant. We have a fantasy that God will reach down and deliver what we want, or wipe away all our problems, including bad feelings, but in fact, God may be working through those bad feelings in order to alert us to a larger problem in mind, body, and/or spirit,” said Lily. “Bad feelings are powerful, powerful messengers. One of the aspects of modern Christianity that challenges many of us is what appears to be a rush to get back to a place of gratitude or forgiveness or happiness, when in fact, we can’t get back to a good place without first compassionately holding and acknowledging the not-so-good place. The only way round is through.”

There is an overwhelming amount of pressure that we place on ourselves and that others put on us. The idea that we can and should do everything with perfection is crippling. Lily discusses this in her book and believes that faith can be the stabilizing resource we all desperately need. Her first book, Strip City: A Stripper’s Farewell Journey Across America, was about Lily’s work as a stripper in her late teens and early adulthood. Women everywhere found salvation in Lily’s honesty and authenticity. While she may have been a lapsed believer, who drifted away from her faith, she has beautifully chronicled her spiritual journey in her new book.

One of my favorite sections of the book is where Lily calls out the Christians that ‘look busy’. Oftentimes, we believe going through motions is enough; however, we’re only cheating ourselves. Instead of truly partaking in the spiritual journey, Christians who look busy are merely looking the part to fit in. “I think Christianity, in particular, can come packaged with a side-order of perfectionism - we want to look like we’re “doing” faith right. It’s toxic image-consciousness in its Sunday best. We concern ourselves with the appearances of being a “good Christian": saying the right things, living a “righteous” life, always being ready to face challenges with a grateful heart and a huge smile on our face, when we, truthfully, may be more of a mess than we’re willing to let on,” explained Lily. “God always greets us where we are, though, and there’s no minimum piety requirement, or performance review, for a spiritual life or for God’s love. You start each day right where you are and make a serious priority of your well-being, inside and out, by being honest with God, even if it means looking less than perfect.”

Grace for Amateurs is the perfect book for anyone. You do not have to experience a darkening depression to appreciate Lily’s journey – in fact, reading her inspirational message will provide you with a divine sanctuary to take on for yourself. “I generally try to avoid telling people what to do, but my steps for finding and offering sanctuary are freely (and maybe a bit forcefully) given, and it recalls Micah 6:8: Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly. Get involved, show love to yourself and others, and don’t forget that self-care is its own form of activism,” said Lily.

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