In May 2018, my roommate and I decided that for our weekly “Mansion Night” we would break from our normal sharing and prayer and go to Shake Shack, which had just opened in Hong Kong. To say I was relieved would be an understatement. I was sick and tired of talking about Jesus and having any kind of spiritual/religious talks. You see, several months prior I had been burned by the church in a way that stripped me of my identity and forced me to reconsider my faith in a way I hadn’t been forced to up until that point. I was hurt by people I loved and who I considered family and, with the metaphorical middle finger thrown in my face, had felt that they turned their backs on me and said, “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”
That was November. It had been almost six months since the events of that split happened and there was still only rage, hatred, bitterness, and a desire to fall into the deepest pits of self-destruction. In those six months, I lost myself. I didn’t know who I was anymore. And I liked it. For the first time, I didn’t have to pretend to be the “Golden Church Kid” or the “budding theologian” or whatever BS title I or others would give me.
But I was still hollow. And God did I fight trying to restore that sense of Self I had lost.
That night around the outdoor tables at Shake Shack, somehow or another topic of political assassination was brought up and whether it was ethical. One of my housemates and I had talked about this before, so I was more or less tuning him out (we had a LOT of ethical/theological conversations in our house). But then he turned to me and said, “Dylan, what did Bonhoeffer say about that again? I remember you brought him up once.”
He was referring to an article I had found where Bonhoeffer claimed he did not try to justify his claims in assassinating Hitler, but rather he would throw himself on God’s mercy. I affirmed what he said, but it also got me thinking that I didn’t know his full story. I knew from my undergraduate program that Bonhoeffer’s involvement in the plot to kill Hitler was both misconstrued and over exaggerated in some ways, so I wanted to delve into the truth and know the full story of the man behind the legend.
That night I downloaded Eric Metaxas’s biography, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.
To say I was enraptured by it is an understatement. As I flipped through the pages, I felt a heaviness weigh on my heart as page after page detailed the life story of the man who would become my “Hero of Faith.” I was blown away by his upbringing as a man of the highest privilege who looked beyond his station in life to step into the world of others. But it was his central question that made my eyes widen:
“What is the church?”
It was a question I had been wrestling with subconsciously since before I moved to Hong Kong and had been exacerbated by my recent fallout with the church. As I read that question over and over again, for the first time in six months I felt like I wasn’t alone. The discombobulating journey I had been on wasn’t something I had to walk alone anymore. My first reaction was, “If a man of Bonhoeffer’s caliber and intelligence struggled and wrestled with this question for his entire life, then it’s okay if I wrestle with it too.”
The journey I had put on hold for six months was starting again. Just as the Expert prepared to leave his Tower at the beck and call of the Pilgrim, so I had found my guide.
For me, the Journey of not just reestablishing my lost sense of Self had begun, but the Journey of discovering who I truly am was in full motion.
 Here’s a link to the article: https://news.psu.edu/story/140578/2000/05/01/research/bonhoeffer’s-dilemma