Do you remember back in high school when you dreamed about being someone else? That movie star with a perfect smile and all the right proportions? Or you flipped through teen magazines and wanted hair like that, or lip gloss that shined just like that? Fine, maybe I am dating myself reminiscing about Seventeen Magazine, but I think every girl dreams of “fixing” a flaw they see in themselves. I am happy to report that I have grown out of those superficial desires and have gradually learned to love myself… just the way I am. Am I perfect? Far from it. Am I still learning and growing and moving forward in the journey for joy? You betcha. Which brings me to this week’s muse: A couple of words on two books I’ve recently finished up.
The first is “The Powerful Purpose of Introverts” by Holley Gerth, (in)Courage member, best selling author and fellow introvert. When I first got my hands on this one, I was secretly excited, hoping that Gerth would impart great wisdom on how to upgrade my A game in a world of crazy extroverts (I’m married to one, too, so that throws a glitch in the system). The book does do this, to some extent, but is a much broader look at the idea of what an introvert is and how to function well as one.
Very similar to other personality type studies, Holley looks at brain function, responses to stimuli and coping mechanisms. Anecdotal stories are punctuated throughout the book, helping illustrate the power behind “introvert-ism”. Designed as a small group study (there are chapter questions at the back for discussion), I’m thinking this would be perfect for a young mom’s club. The author gently encourages (as all good introverts do- insert wink here- ) that no matter where you think you are, God’s plans and purposes for you are always perfect, and that all of us, introvert or extrovert, have roles to play in His plan!
I was thankful for some of the reminders Gerth highlights as “needs” for my half of the population: things like dedicated quiet (strategic solitude), special connections and silent empathy. These are strengths that we hold dear. The strengths that help us live out our purpose in God’s plan! Even if you write a weekly blog about your seemingly boring life and dream of going viral someday.
Which brings us around to the second book: “Joyful Surrender: 7 Disciplines for the Believer’s Life” by Elizabeth Elliot. This pillar of the faith (she died in 2015) is known for a variety of writing, but most notably by her husband’s story. Jim Elliot was one of the five young missionaries who were savagely killed while trying to establish communication with the Auca Indians of Ecuador. She tells his story (and consequently her own) in her book “Through the Gates of Splendor”. She is one of those people you want to be like — Brave and able to trust fully in God’s plan, even in the midst of unspeakable grief.
Our church’s ladies group just completed this book as our winter study. Our crazy Zoom discussions were sparked by topics such as the discipline of the Body, of the Mind, our feelings and how we spend our time. We found Elliot to be a no-nonsense kind of woman who tells it like it is, and lays out her discussions of discipline with all the confidence of a well seasoned Christian. We appreciated her biblical insights and wisdom, obviously gained through her own daily walk with Jesus, and years of service. Interestingly, her choice of title (“joyful surrender”) is indication that even seasoned missionaries have to choose joy in the journey sometimes! Yes, grace is sufficient, but practical faith takes some work! I think I can speak for the rest of my “spiritual sisters” in saying that Elliot’s book was challenging and insightful.
So, there you have it, my friends, a couple of new books for you to sink your teeth into during lockdown. They won’t be like Seventeen magazine … but they just might encourage you to take a second glance at your own self… and go beyond lip-gloss and banana hair clips, and take a good, introspective look at who God made you to be… and how He made you to fit just perfectly for His plan for your future!