Ever have one of those times when you find challenge or encouragement in a completely unexpected place? I found both as I read Wrestling for My Life by Shawn Michaels. For those scratching their heads, wondering if they should be familiar with the authors name, let me help you out. You probably aren’t.

For starters, the book is nonfiction. The nonfiction reviews I post are few and far between. I really have to get something from the book to include it. I tend to stick with fiction.

Plus, the author is a professional wrestler. Yes, you read that correctly. No, you do not need to read it again. Shawn Michaels is a well-known professional wrestler. But please don’t let that fact deter you from reading this review.

You now know something about me that I rarely, if ever, talk about in my writing/reading circles. I like watching professional wrestling. But before you start with the typical list, let me clarify some things.

I know the matches are predetermined. That’s why it’s called sports entertainment.

There are characters and story lines I do not like and cannot support. I generally fast forward through those or check my social media pages when they come up.

I’m not a fan of the scantily clad wrestlers either. But, in a lot of ways, I’m kind of immune to that. My son was a competitive swimmer for several years, and there’s a lot of scantily clad in that sport as well. If they’re scantily clad and overly sexual, well, I simply don’t watch.

I like wrestling for the story and the athleticism. I’m amazed that some of these huge people can move the way they do. I know I can’t do the things they do. And, as a writer, I’m intrigued by the wrestler in the ring and the person outside the ring. In fact, it was this dichotomy that inspired a new book I’m writing. And the writing of the book led me to Wrestling for My Life.

Another thing you may not know about wrestling is that there are Christians in the wrestling world, just as there are Christians in Hollywood and nearly every other profession. In the interest of writing my story to accurately portray what it means to be a faith-living Christian in the wrestling world, I bought Shawn Michaels’ book. I wanted to hear it straight from someone who was known for living it.

What I found was not only a lot of ways to develop my character, but also encouragement and challenge in my own faith walk. Shawn Michaels wrote a very down to earth book about what it means for him to live his faith in a profession where faith isn’t part of the plot. He wrote honestly about the path that brought him to see his need for God, the struggles he has faced since embracing faith, and the joy he receives from keeping God a priority in his life.

Where some celebrity Christians seem to gravitate to a fad version of faith, Shawn Michaels seems completely grounded in the Word. The passion with which he speaks of taking time in God’s Word each day challenged me to look at my own Bible reading habits. The openness with which he tells of what comes after the newness of faith wears off was an encouragement that we all face these times. The humbleness I saw when he acknowledged his past mistakes and even the ones that came after his conversion are a clear reminder of the hope we have as believers.

In the end, the story of Shawn Michaels holds up a mirror to my own life. He works in a profession where faith isn’t prominent. In many ways, the job may even work against faith. Still, he navigates it with his faith intact and shines a light where other people wouldn’t be able to. He’s making a difference for God in the arena where God has placed him.

My job and the groups I’m part of are not antagonistic towards God. We’re everyday people in everyday circumstances. Those I work with know of my faith. They know there are things I won’t do, places I won’t go, and things I won’t say because of my faith. But after reading Wrestling for My Life I have to take a long hard look at my life and ask myself if I’m living out my faith with as much consistency and shining that light as brightly as this down-to-earth wrestler does in a professional world that’s designed to lift up the man instead of his God.

Where have you found unexpected challenge or encouragement in your faith?