Monday, January 28, 2019

It's Okay Not to Be Okay by Sheila Walsh

From Amazon: 
We've all experienced that moment where we wish we could start all over again. Failed marriages, lost friends, addictions, lost jobs. This is not the life we imagined. Yesterday can sometimes leave us stuck, sad, shamed, scared, and searching. Sheila Walsh encourages readers to face the pain head on and then start again, from right where they are. She shares that when she discovered "I'm not good enough and I'm good with that," everything started to change.

In It's Okay Not to Be Okay, Walsh helps women overcome the same old rut of struggles and pain by changing the way they think about God, themselves, and their everyday lives. She shares practical, doable, daily strategies that will help women move forward one step at a time knowing God will never let them down.

The term "self-help" isn't one I like to use. While I understand the label and what it's meant to imply, I think it gives a wrong approach when Christians use it. Not everything in life is about "self"; in fact, our lives were meant to point to a Creator, and when the term "self-help" is used, it points to us instead. So when I saw the first line on the back of Sheila Walsh's book I was happy. Not self-help. God help.* God is help and He gives that help to us. 

This is probably the latest book review I've ever done. I try to be on time, but this wasn't a book I could just sit down and read through--even when I wanted to catch up. Walsh's words make you think and each chapter has several quotes pulled out from her writing and made into a page of their own. Each chapter also has questions and ideas for reflection at the end. 

Chapter one starts out by showing us that while it's okay for us not to be okay, we never should stop there. There are steps to moving forward and sometimes we need motivation and a reason to take that first step. Usually that means being willing to admit the truth about yourself, your situation, and God. She talks about the questions that consume our mind during struggles and how we can change the way we think, but first we have to know that we're stuck and needing help. God is in the business of changing lives and creating something beautiful out of brokenness, but we have to be willing to admit our hurt and understand that change happens through God's strength. One of the reasons that it's okay not to be okay, is that Jesus has made us right with God no matter what goes on around us. 
Only an internal transformation will truly change external behavior. Every battle begins in our minds, not with our behavior. We can behave a certain way and remain unchanged. If we want to change how we act, we have to change how we think. 
Sheila Walsh talks about the "what ifs" that plague our minds and tells us to do things afraid, even when you don't have all the answers. Sometimes you just don't know until you do something. And sometimes even when we step out in faith it seems like God doesn't meet us there. But it's when we reach the end of ourselves that God is able to transform our hearts and minds and allow His truth to be louder than our fears.

Walsh uses the life example of Joseph for chapter five when she discusses that we have to let go of what we can't control. We (often) perceive things in different ways than God does, so then we end up not seeing the complete picture as God plans our lives. While man may create devastation around us, God intends all things to be used for our good, and resting in that fact can give us the grace to rise above our disappointments. When we can understand fully that we are completely not enough in any way for anything, Jesus takes what we can give, and provides the rest through grace in the moment. Even when dreams are deferred, the hope we have in God will ultimately not disappoint us.

Sheila talks about how we view the scars that this world gives us. Some are invisible; others are obvious. But through obedience and the grace of Jesus, we can face the past and go on with grace, choosing to view those scars in light of God's mercy and our willingness to get up again and go on one more time. We are free in Christ, and we don't need to hide who we are or how God fashioned us. We aren't supposed to be bound by the labels that society gives us. We are real, but we're all broken, and understanding that Christ is the hero of our stories allows us to be human.

We can't be perfect. We shouldn't stay where we are. We are broken, and we will need healing again and again, but Jesus is our redemption and He makes us whole again. When we can set aside the judgment of the people around us and realize that in Christ we are justified, then we are free to love with abandon. Nothing separates us from that love, and that gives us the strength and courage to get up over and over and move forward--even when we're not okay.

You are not what happened to you. You are a child of God.


*italicized words are quoted from It's Okay Not to Be Okay
*This book was provided free from Baker Publishing in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review.

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