Reflection questions for Threads
These questions might be used for a group study, journaling, or other personal reflections as you read the book. The intention is not that you provide all the answers, but that you spend some time living with the questions as they lead you to think more deeply about what you’ve read.
The Tangled Mess
- The author uses the metaphor of a tangled mess of necklaces to describe her life of faith. What metaphor would you use to describe your life of faith? Why?
- Is there a thread that has revealed different meaning to you at different times in your life? (Forgiveness? Wisdom? Compassion? Justice?) How has the meaning changed for you through the years?
- The author makes a distinction between searching for meaning in our life experiences and making sense of them. How do you understand that difference? Why does this distinction matter?
- Can you recall an early faith crisis you may have experienced as a child? How has it impacted your faith as an adult?
- Did faith come easy for you when you were growing up or did you struggle with it? Has that changed for you? If so, how?
- Have your ever experienced what you would consider a conversion experience in your life? How did it happen for you? If you haven’t had such an experience, is it something you long for? Are such experiences necessary? Are they helpful?
Like Other Women Change Shoes
- Have you ever tried to begin your life again after screwing up? How did it go for you? What were the challenges?
- Is there a story from your past that seems to have a grip on you? How can you let it go so that it doesn’t determine your future?
- How can past failures be redeemed and used as a source of healing and wholeness? Have you experienced this in your own life?
A Goose Tail in the Woods
- Are there life experiences that befuddle you? How do you deal with them?
- Is there a larger faith story that helps you find meaning in your own life story? How does that work for you?
- When have you found meaning in a life experience that surprised you?
Clorox Only Makes It Worse
- Do you think of yourself as a sinner? Why or why not?
- “I’ve come to see that imperfection is not synonymous with sin. It’s my inability to accept my imperfection that is sin.” What do you think the author means by this? Do you agree?
- The author theorizes that God created humans as sinners and not that they became sinners as a result of their own actions. What do you think of this? What difference might it make?
- How do you integrate the person you were as a child with the person you are as an adult? Can you think of healthy and unhealthy ways you might do this?
- When did you first become aware of racism? How has it affected your life?
- Is there a difficult experience from your past you can learn from so that it becomes a part of God’s ongoing work of transformation in your life?
From Battlefield to Dancefloor
- How do you understand the distinction the author is making between encountering God on the battlefield and encountering God on the dancefloor?
- Have you encountered God more on the battlefield or the dancefloor in your own life? In what way(s)?
- The author writes of her relationship with God: “I needed to know that I could walk away before I could choose to stay.” How do you understand this?
A Multitude of Heavenly Footprints
- How have you experienced a multitude of heavenly footprints in your life? Is there a time that stands out for you?
- What is the meaning of the story of Aaron for you?
- The author writes: “When it’s working, it’s the community that carries us into the presence of Jesus.” Has Christian community worked this way for you?
- The author writes: “What we’re working toward is not holiness—it’s wholeness. It begins by first facing the brokenness in ourselves.” How do you understand that?
- How have you experienced captivity to sin in your life?
- Is there a well-worn pathway that you continue to travel in your life that leads you to an undesirable place? What would it look like for you to forge a new path instead—one that leads you to the place you long to go?
- How do you understand what the author refers to as “God glimpses?” In what way do God glimpses help resolve her discomfort with the theology of “there are no coincidences” and “serendipity” as explanations for God’s activity in the world?
- Are you attuned to God glimpses in your life? Why or why not?
- Can you recall a God glimpse in your life and the meaning you drew from it?
I Was Wrong
- Is it easy for you to say, “I was wrong?” Why or why not?
- Does reading that Jesus was a “bigot” challenge you? Is so, how does it challenge you, and why?
- Is it more important for you to stand firm in what you believe or to change your mind? Why?
- The author writes that ”… heaven is the icing on the cake, but certainly not the cake itself. And it’s entirely possible to enjoy the cake without any icing at all.” If getting to heaven isn’t the point of being a Christian, what is?
- What do you think the author meant when she wrote: “A lot of people claim to be atheists these days. Rarely do I meet on who can convince me that’s actually the case.”? Do you agree?
- How is living as if you were a person of faith enough to be a person of faith?
Loving Not Judging
- When you have clarity about your mission, making decisions about how you respond to challenges becomes clearer as well. Have you noticed that principle working in your life? If so, how?
- How is “Loving not Judging” a reflection of the Jesus Way of living in the world? Why is it so difficult for us to live like this?
- Reflect on the author’s statement: “There are consequences to my actions and there are some things that no amount of repentance can erase.” Does it ring true for you? Why or why not?
- How does the Bible inform your life? Do you read the Bible expecting answers or expecting a conversation? What difference does this make in the way you find meaning in your life?
- Have you encountered a situation when you were forced to make a choice between being right and being loving? How did you resolve it and why?
- What do you think of people who have direct revelations from God? Have you ever experienced this yourself? In what ways can such revelations be helpful or unhelpful?
Humor, Hindsight and Healing
- Do you find it easy to laugh at yourself? Why or why not?
- Has there been a time when you found humor in hindsight? Was it healing for you? If so, in what way?
- The author writes: “Every laugh becomes a shake of the fist at death and a celebration of resurrection.” How does that change the role laughter has in your life?
Where Love Leads
- What does it mean to be an inactive activist? How would you describe yourself as one who acts for justice in the world? Activist? Inactive activist? Disinterested bystander? Other?
- Have you ever felt a “seismic shift in the universe” that changed everything from that day on? What happened and how did you feel about it?
- How do you understand the connection between love and justice?
Expecting to be Surprised
- Do you think God has a plan for us? Why?
- How has God surprised you in your life? Can you recall a specific time?
- Within the context of your relationship with God, what have you come to expect?
- The author writes: “When an event in your life jars you, when it strikes as odd or ironic, or when it leaves you questioning long held beliefs, it’s a story ripe for meaning.” Is there a story you might like to explore from your own life that is ripe for meaning?
- What meaning do you find in that story?
- How does that story and the meaning you have pulled from it change the way you see: The world? Yourself? Your relationship with God?