The Adventures of a Dyslexic Map Reader





Everything in this next story is true, metaphorically…

One day I summited a mountain. While taking in the stunning view, I discovered a systematic friend had also just arrived and was enjoying the same vista. We embraced and then, filled with wonder, reveled in our shared awe of the landscape – it was Revelation.

As we pointed out the beauty, we experienced a shared sense of eternal life. Then, mesmerized by our perspective, we each told our story; the highs, lows, wonder, confusion, epiphanies, and all the ways we found ourselves here, now. In every story, we referenced an everyday resource, a shared treasure. The Map.

We both loved The Map and gave it great authority over our journeys. So, it was amazing to hear my friend give his insights into The Map. He’d gone to Map School, had studied many years, and become an expert Map reader. I learned much from him. And have much still to learn.

But I noticed whenever I spoke of The Map he became distracted and uncomfortable. I’d seen it before; with other Map experts. I thought about telling him of my Map school days but knew from experience that conversation would likely become hyper Map focused and I’d eventually lose interest.

You see, I have a Map reading learning disability. So, even on my best day, I will only and ever be a novice Map reader. When I was younger and insecure, I tried to hide my relational disability from my systematic friends. But I’m growing surer in love.

I’m also older and have learned that when connecting with my systematic friends, it’s best to get my learning disability out in the open quickly.

“I’m a dyslexic map reader,” I told him.

“What do you mean?” He asked.

“I tend to read The Map backward,” I responded.

“What does that mean?” He queried with growing discomfort.

“Well, I can’t truly comprehend it until after I’ve taken the journey and seen the view,” I answered, pointing at the view.

“But that’s the wrong way to read The Map,” he said, strangely ignoring the view.

“So I’ve been told,” I responded, laughing.

But he didn’t think it was funny. Concerned, he asked, “How did you even get here then?” emphasizing “here” as if he suddenly doubted my presence.

I smiled. “Same way as you, I imagine. By the grace of God.”

That answer conflicted with what he’d been taught at Map school and would have received a failing grade. I know this because I too went to Map school. It’s where my dyslexia first showed up, though I didn’t have a clue what it was in those days and thought there must be something wrong with me.

His demeanor changed. Where once we’d shared wonder, now he was full of educated doubt, informed concern, and systematic dissatisfaction. Then he did something odd. He turned his back on the view, the Revelation, picked up his Map, thrust it out, and insisted, “Show me the route you took.”

I glanced at The Map, pointed to the Emmaus Road I’d taken, and saw him shake his head. “That’s a slippery slope.”

I laughed again, “No, my friend, the footing is sure.” Then I pointed to the view—the revelation I was still reveling in. But for him, everything had become secondary to the Map.

“I’m telling you; you’re reading the Map wrong!”

I shrugged, “Maybe, but good Lord, check out this vista!”


This article is excerpted from my book, Leaving and finding Jesus
CLICK HERE to Pre-Order

Jason Clark is a bestselling storyteller who writes to reveal the transforming kindness of the love of God. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children, Madeleine, Ethan, and Eva.


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