Many feel they need to fake feeling fine at church. Fleece says it's time to set aside that performance. She gives us permission to grieve and lament, something often deliberately missing from our Christian life. Rather than hiding our pain, we have “permission to feel it all and express it honestly to God through prayer.” (41)
Fleece shares her own story with the aim of encouraging us to be honest in our story too. Being told to “suck it up” at a young age, she did that and was successful at faking fine. She climbed the corporate ladder. At age 30, however, she walked away from it all and spent two years facing her relationship with God. Having hit rock bottom, she discovered lament. “We can lament something in the past to receive healing in the present.” (59)
I am impressed with Fleece's book. She shows that thinking we should have a “fine” life is really unbiblical. It is “an unrealistic expectation that ended up making me feel disengaged from God and disappointed in Him,” she writes. (34) God wants to hear about our pain.
I like Fleece sharing the difficulty of making herself vulnerable to God, being unsure of His thoughts toward her. She thought He might be withholding good things from her. Her honesty is amazing. “I've gone through times,” she writes, “when it seemed as if God's plans were not prospering me at all; in fact, it felt like they were hurting me.” (100)
I highly recommend this book to anyone ready to quite faking it, quit pretending that all is fine. You'll get great encouragement by instruction and by example. I also recommend this book to church leaders. Fleece encourages leaders to make time for lament in church services, noting it is the pathway to real healing.
Here are a few quotes to give the idea of the depth of Fleece's book.
“When we fake fine, we fake our way out of authentic relationship with God, others, and ourselves.” (37)
“The greatest gift that has come from my suffering is a deeper understanding of the character of God and His thoughts toward me.” (103)
“Lament gives us the language to name the weight of our own sins and the wounds from others, so we might look to Jesus to transform our hearts.” (170)
My rating: 5/5 stars.
Esther Fleece is an international speaker and writer on millennials and faith, leadership and family, recognized among Christianity Today's “Top 50 Women Shaping the Church and Culture” and CNN's “Five Women in Religion to Watch.” As founder and CEO of L&L Consulting, she works to connect influential individuals and organizations to their mutual benefit. You can follow her on Twitter @EstherFleece or find out more at http://estherfleece.com/.
Zondervan, 224 pages.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through Icon Media. My comments are an independent and honest review.