Turning Inside Out
My new book is now available on Amazon.com.
In this book I use parts of my life story to illustrate what I believe is an important principle. That what spiritual and moral principles guide you is as important as what you say and do as you work to make the world a better place.
The book invites the reader into a conversation, most importantly with themselves:
The biggest challenges to living my values come in the midst of disagreements when I think much is at stake, or as I feel the impact of wrongs done to myself or those whom I care about.
The opportunity for significant learning and growth also come at these moments. My book is an invitation to be more open to this opportunity for growth.
It is my privilege to be Emily Newberry’s minister and to have been blessed by Emily’s participation in the congregation that I serve. I knew some of Emily’s story before reading Turning Inside Out but reading her description of the arc of her life was deeply moving for me. This book offers the gift of truth. There is a reason that the Christian scriptures insist that it is the truth that can set us free.
I could hear Emily’s voice as I read every page of this book; the words ring true of the person I have come to know. The repeated use of the “warrior” language for the sections of the book caught my attention, however. Let me clear, Emily can be a fierce advocate, for herself and for others. She tells the story of her advocacy for gender-confirming health care in the book. Emily can be fierce.
But there is a gentleness that comes naturally to Emily as well. Both of those qualities, the fierceness and the gentleness, have been imprisoned in gender stereotypes by the culture in which we live. Turning Inside Out is a testimony to the truth that a person can hold both with integrity and intensity. None of us live one dimensional lives.
Emily speaks to the power of personal story early in the book. Real lived experience, with its complexity and sometimes contradictions, is far more compelling than surface descriptions that rely only on easy categories.
The categories around which identities are constructed are important, however. I am African American. You cannot really know me if you do not know that and have some understanding of the way race has shaped my life. You cannot really know Emily if you do not understand how bringing her life into alignment with her spirit has shaped her.
As a religious person, I believe nothing more strongly than that each of us has inherent worth and dignity. We do not need to earn it. We are each of us lovable and already loved by the Spirit of Life, however we name that spirit. One of my favorite bumper stickers of a few years ago read: “God Don’t Make No Junk.”
The Spirit of Life does not privilege one identity over another. We are loved in all of our identities and each of our particularities. A melting pot will never lead us toward the Beloved Community.
Stories of real lives, like Turning Inside Out, help all of us remember the particularity of our own lives and the challenges we have faced or avoided in living authentically as who we are. These stories are critical in the changing of attitudes and the ending of violence. These stories also offer hope that all of us may finally be able to accept and love ourselves as all we are.
I love Emily’s candid and engaging writing. I love the details she remembers and shares of her journey. I was moved by the times when her heart was broken and the moments of reconciliation. But my strongest reaction is gratitude for Emily’s willingness to share the truth of her life and the remarkable example of courage her story offers us all as a gift.
Thank you, Emily.
Rev. Bill Sinkford