In January 2018, I attended an event for ladies connected to the NASCAR industry. The special guest was comedian John Crist. I’d seen – at laughed with – his videos. He is a Christian comedian, so he stuff was family friendly and poked fun at church culture. I remember though, thinking after the show that something wasn’t quite right. I could see the pain behind the laughter. I could sense the darkness lurking under the surface. That’s not uncommon with comedians though; the laughter is often a way to deal with the pain. But this was something more. I even said something to Bill when I got home about it. Even as I watched more videos come out (and laughed at them), that memory of the pain I sensed in him didn’t leave.
So, in November of 2019, when John Crist’s sins became very public, I wasn’t really surprised. In some ways, I felt relieved and genuinely prayed that he would find healing. Fast forward several months and John re-enters the social media world. And he starts doing small shows in local comedy clubs. After the dumpster fire of a year that 2020 was, when I saw that John was coming to our area in May 2021, I knew that was the perfect way for me and Bill to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We went, we laughed, and I thanked God for the difference I saw in that performance. I saw someone who was healthier, more genuine, and more at home in himself.
Fast forward another year and John was coming back into the area. So of course Bill and I had to go again! And then when his book came out a month later – my birthday month! – I just knew I had to get it. I was not disappointed. Delete That is an easy to read, honest memoir. John shares stories of experiences that shaped him. Without making excuses and taking full responsibility for his behavior, John explains why and how he hid his pain and parts of himself so that he could win the approval of others. So he could get that dopamine hit of approval and love.
And he explains how he was able to find forgiveness and grace and love. As a pastor with 7 kids (John is one of 8 kids with a pastor father), I learned some lessons on how to love my children better and how to help them feel seen and heard. Those were good lessons for me. I was also reminded of the beauty of the church when we embrace the real selves of those around us (not the masks we wear). Toward the end of the book, John tells a story about going to worship at a local church after having been in rehab for several weeks. He talks about telling a lie about why he was in town, then after the bravery of those around him being honest, John explains that he is at the local rehab center.
For a moment, we unloaded a little of our struggles. We looked at one another as we were, flawed and hurting, and then, just like that, our loads seemed lighter. It felt better than church had felt in as long as I could remember.
Maybe this is what church was always supposed to be. It’s not a gala reception for life’s be winners. It’s for the broken, the sick.Delete That, pg. 213
As much as I laughed throughout the book, reading that brought tears to my eyes. Truth.
Ironically, I started to read Delete That on a flight to Nashville for Bill’s NASCAR Championship Awards Banquet. Who did I see there? John Crist himself. I fangirled just a little and he was gracious enough to stand with me and Bill while his girlfriend took the photo. (John, if you’re reading this, thank you.)
So, yeah, I loved the book. If you’ve been hurt by church (or church people), need a good laugh, have felt unseen and unloved, or just want an honest reflection of this social media culture and the fakeness we all portray, I recommend Delete That. When you read it, let me know what you think!