It's been a while since I have completed a book to write a review on for y'all. I set a goal for myself this summer, to only read "for fun" books. My brain and emotional journey needed a break.
As He always does in the "help on my journey" books department, God showed up with a beautiful title that tugged at so many of my heart strings. I am still VERY much trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up (apart from a Mama and Homemaker). And this read brought about much thought, contemplation, tears, and hope.
Jessica Honegger, author of Imperfect Courage and founder of Noonday Collection, is a gift. Her story is one of struggle, hope, fear, joy, and faith. She shares not only her own story in these pages, but also the beautiful and enduring stories of women around the world with whom she has had the privilege to join in creating Noonday.
Initially I thought I had picked up the wrong book. Her story is very different than mine. But I am slowly learning that just because our journeys and stories are different doesn't mean that we as women and followers of Jesus, cannot learn from one another.
Chapter 3 was where I first heard God say, "See, this is for you!"
The chapter's title is "Step into Your Story" and page 58 is highlighted almost entirely. Jessica talks of perfectionism in the world of women and how, without even realizing it, we become avid pursuers of our culture's version of perfect. These words truly hit the hurt in my heart. They reached the part of myself that still clings to the belief that if I do it all perfectly - my life will be safer. There will be no more fear. No more hurt or pain. I just have to continue holding the reigns of control. Jessica writes," as soon as we start to experience shame, judgement, or blame regarding our performance in some arena of life...rather than question the faulty logic of perfectionism, we become even more entrenched in our quest to live, look, and do everything up just right." Guys, this is me... and this was something God had for me. From here on, in these pages, I was glued.
Jessica's words spoke on the worth that we hold for ourselves. How instead of chasing our "worthiness" through life, we should be "embracing" it, because it is already there. For if we don't, "we will eventually run out of breath."
Years ago, in constant mental motion to be it all, balance it all, and carry it all, I ran out of breath. And then, I felt that I had completely failed. That the story I was living was a sign of my lack and my unworthiness of a full and good life. Today I still struggle with chasing my worthiness, instead of believing that because God loves me, cherishes me, and made me, I am already worthy. I am a work in progress, but being at this place in my story doesn't make me less than, it makes me a fighter. It makes me a believer that there is hope. That I am worthy of putting in the work of healing my soul, not for the sake of how others will see me, but for the sake of what I think of me. I have been playing the game of "keeping up" my entire life. I always had the drive to compare myself to those around me especially when it came to my weight. C.S. Lewis is referenced in this book, and I love how Jessica sums up his essay "The Weight of Glory","every human being wants to be appreciated and accepted and loved by God, but instead of looking to God for fulfillment, we transfer this deep desire for acceptance by the divine to acceptance from everyone else." Anyone else have a ding, ding, ding moment here?
This is what I mean- This book is SO FULL! And that my friends, is just a glimpse into the middle of chapters 3 and 4. (My book is so marked up with ink that I would be completely committing plagiarism if I shared it all with you.)
I want to jump on over to chapter 11. A chapter entitled, "Quit Trying". Are you thinking what I thought when I turned to that heading? I had just finished a charged up chapter on positive thinking and changing the words we tell ourselves and how we can use our gifts as power to move in a "beyond-ourselves sort of life". And now I am faced with BOLD words reading "Quit Trying"??? Anticlimactic, yes? But truth be told, I carried on, as I knew there must be something to this. I realized as I read through this oddly titled chapter that it was in-fact one of the BIGGEST reasons God had had this book waiting in the wings for me. I needed to know that the me today, the pieces I am putting back together in this time of healing is in preparation for whatever it is God has in store for me. I need not be frustrated. I need to give where and when I am now my attention, because this moment is an important part. And it is just as important for me to go through it, as the finale that will come in some unknown amount of time. Trusting God with not only the future, but also with the process of moving through my life.
God gave Jessica the gift of her life story. Not only for herself to live it and learn it but also a drive to share it with us. I am so very thankful for this.
I want to encourage you in the end of this post. You dear friend are not forgotten. You are not unseen. You are not invisible. And just because your story looks different than those around you, doesn't mean it is any less valuable. God has created you for this journey and story that you are a part of. If you struggle with finding these truths in your days, this book has given me courage once again to stand tall. To have faith in the process. It has reminded me of the love that God has for me. That I am able. That I am smart, beautiful and worthy and you dear one are too.