Bestselling author and every woman's best friend, Holley Gerth helps women lay down their unrealistic expectations so they can embrace who God created them to be, pursue his purpose for their lives, and offer the love they've been freely given.
|Publisher:||Baker Publishing Group|
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You're Loved No Matter What
Freeing Your Heart from the Need to Be Perfect
By Holley Gerth
RevellCopyright © 2015 Holley Gerth
All rights reserved.
Why You Really Don't Have to Be Perfect
She walks into the room with a smile, but I can see the weariness in her face, so I ask her how she's doing. With forced cheerfulness, she declares, "I'm fine!"
After she sits down across from me, I lean in, look her in the eyes, and gently inquire, "Okay, how are you really doing?"
She sighs and shifts her gaze downward. "I'm worn out," she replies. "I'm tired of trying so hard all the time."
She tells me about all the pressure in her life. Whether it's her looks, her relationships, or even her faith, it seems there's always a standard to meet. She carries an impossible to-do list in her heart that never gets completed. She lives in fear of letting someone down and yet at times resents the very same people she's trying to please. Sometimes she fantasizes about running away from her "blessed life" just so she can have some peace. She says it's been this way as long as she can remember, and she doesn't know how to live differently.
I nod in understanding and think of how I've wrestled with the need to be "perfect" too. The struggle began in my teenage years when I realized there were expectations to be met in every area of my life—school, social relationships, and even spirituality. I learned to hold my true emotions inside and perform so that I would be accepted. On one particular day my boyfriend broke up with me, and I felt devastated. But I walked into my next class with a forced smile. Fortunately, someone loved me enough not to let me get away with it. A friend took me by the shoulders, looked straight at me, and said, "Holley, stop faking it."
That moment turned out to be life changing because of this: until then I didn't think anyone could tell when I was faking it. I had become an expert at going through the motions and trying not to let anyone down. I thought my performance had been believable. But now someone stood in front of me, cutting through the masquerade and saying, "It's okay to be real."
I desperately wanted to believe that truth. I didn't want to keep pretending, but I had no idea how to change. Even more than that, I was terrified that if I let my struggles and true emotions show, God would be disappointed in me. Fear held me back and held up the corners of my smile like strings on a puppet.
Although I made some progress, I never really figured out how to stop trying so hard in high school. By the time I graduated, I had come to believe I could never live up to the standards and expectations. So when I went to college, I took a chain saw to the pedestal I'd been placed on and completely rebelled. I made poor choices and ended up miserable. Then I truly felt trapped. I didn't want to be perfect, but I also knew my destructive way of living had to stop.
God began relentlessly pursuing my heart in that in-between place between law and grace. He sent people into my life who accepted me in all my brokenness. He caught me when I fell. He revealed the legalism and lies that had led me to this cage of desperation. I learned—or perhaps relearned—that walking with Jesus is always first and foremost about a relationship. My heart had begun to heal.
Then I got married and began a career. In my midtwenties my husband and I decided to start a family. Only it didn't turn out the way we planned. Seven years of infertility and loss led me to struggle desperately for control of my life. I thought if I could just do everything right, then surely God would give me what I wanted. But he didn't. I fell into depression, and he met me again in that place. He showed me once more how hard I'd been trying to keep it all together. And in that season, I learned how love could hold me together even when my world fell apart.
God has continued to peel back layers of perfectionism in my life bit by bit. He's restored me in more ways than I even knew I needed, and he continues to do so. When I began working as a counselor and then a life coach, I discovered other women struggled with the need to be perfect too. And as I wrote about this on my blog as well as in books, I heard more of the same through comments and emails.
Here's the reality: I've yet to meet a woman who doesn't struggle with the pressure to be perfect. Even the ones who seem to have it all together. Maybe especially those who seem to have it all together. We are all in this battle, and we can help each other find victory. So on the day when yet another woman shared with me what I'd heard so many times before, I knew the time had come to write this book.
I reached across the table and touched her hand with newfound hope in my eyes. "You don't have to be tired anymore. Your life really can be different."
She looked up at me with a half smile. "I would love to believe that," she answered. "I think I'm too worn out to try anything else."
I smiled back at her and said, "Well, that's great news, because the first thing I want you to do is stop trying."
I'm saying that to you today as well, friend. Before you read one more sentence in this book, please pause and promise this one thing: you will stop trying to change on your own. Aren't you exhausted? Aren't you ready for a break? Then get off the treadmill of perfection. You have permission to do so. Because this book isn't about making yourself better. It's about learning to receive what's already yours. It's about knowing you're loved no matter what. It's about rest and grace and living in an entirely new way.
Yes, it's possible to overcome the trap of perfection. I can say with all my heart that I'm a freer woman today than ever before. I know who I am and what I'm called to do. My days are far more joyful. My anxiety is less than it's ever been. Yes, I will be in an ongoing process of healing until I get to heaven. I will have bad moments and messes. But that's okay. And I've discovered it's okay with God too. My life is not perfect, but it's better and fuller than it's ever been. Yours can be too. Truly.
Before we get free, we need to understand why perfection so quickly traps us in the first place. What makes us so willing to give up the wide-open spaces of grace?
The Lure of Perfection
We're drawn to perfection like a magnet. Our hearts feel the pull from the time we're little girls. The new school year began here yesterday, and social media sites filled with photos of kids in their "first day of school" outfits. I remember that ritual well too. Every bow, backpack, and pair of shoes had to be just right. We do the same as grown women, only now it's our homes, careers, or faith we hope are perfectly put together. It seems that desire for a flawless first impression never goes away.
As I think about why those "first day of school" outfits mattered so much, it seems many of the heart needs we experience as children remain even when we're grown-ups. We want to be accepted. We want others to think favorably of us. We want to be safe and avoid exclusion or hurt. I think at the root of every desire for perfection is simply this: fear. T he way we battle fear as humans is through control. And being perfect is the ultimate expression of control.
The enemy knew that when he tempted Eve all the way back in the Garden of Eden. Every time I return to this story, I seem to discover something new about who we are as women. And as I did so today, this one phrase stood out to me: "You will be like God" (Gen. 3:5). The enemy spoke that false promise to Eve to tempt her. But why that line? He could have offered her many other things—riches, illicit pleasures, the chance to rule the earth. But he chose those words: "You will be like God." In other words, you will be perfect.
What Eve in her innocence didn't realize is that she already was perfect. Yes, she was human rather than divine. But she was complete and whole in every way (which is the true definition of biblical perfection—we'll get to that later). She didn't lack anything. And yet, in his craftiness the enemy was able to convince her that she did. Friend, he still does the same with us today.
So how is "being like God" different than being human? What was so appealing about that to Eve? What does God have that we want for ourselves? I think there are five core answers:
Complete control—God has infinite power. Nothing is impossible for him. He's never surprised. Unlike us, he can do anything he wants whenever he wants.
Absolute knowledge—God understands everything. He can fathom more than we can even imagine. He never has to figure out a problem or search for a solution like we do.
Rightful glory—God alone deserves praise and honor because he created all things. He doesn't require affirmation to soothe his insecurities.
Self-sustaining love—God exists in perfect community within the Trinity. He doesn't have a "black hole" of love within him that he needs to have filled by anyone.
Secure identity—God's character does not change. He is who he is now and forever. Nothing can change or reduce him.
When women wrestle with trying to be perfect, it's related to one or more of the core needs above. We are trying to "be like God" in ways he never intended for us. We usually do so not out of arrogance but out of fear. Let's take a look at how that might unfold in a woman's life.
Complete control—Rachel grew up in a chaotic environment, so she learned to take charge. Now that she's a grown woman, that tendency shows in how she runs her home. As long as the house stays absolutely spotless and everything is in order, Rachel feels safe. Sometimes she's weary of trying so hard, but any alternative seems far too frightening.
Absolute knowledge—Kate doesn't know what's going to happen in her marriage. She senses a distance from her husband and once came across some inappropriate sites on his internet log. She tells herself, "If I can just do everything right as his wife, then he won't leave." She wants to confront her husband but fears what might happen. So she plays the role of the ideal wife while she remains deeply lonely inside.
Rightful glory—Sarah learned early how good achievement made her feel. An A on a test or an extra point scored in a game earned her pats on the back from her peers and parents. It's not that she wants people to think she's awesome; it's just that she's afraid if she isn't, they won't think of her at all. So she focuses on winning in life, but a lot of times there's simply no joy in the game.
Self-sustaining love—Gloria has been meeting the needs of others for as long as she can remember. When the phone rings, she answers. When the committee meets, she volunteers. When the friend goes into crisis, she shows up. She thinks being needed is the same as being loved. If she ever said no or let someone down, then she'd be rejected. On the outside she still wears a smile, but on the inside she's beginning to worry about the resentment she feels.
Secure identity—Krista has always felt like a bit of a chameleon. She can drift into a group and quickly learn what it takes to fit in. She embraces the phrases they use, the places they shop, and the values they hold highest. She's lived in so many different places that this kind of adaptation feels like a necessity. But sometimes she wonders who she could really become if she stopped pretending.
We can all relate to one or more of the descriptions above. If you felt a poke of guilt as you read those, swat it away. That's just perfection trying to get at you. God knows we are human and our hearts are drawn to what's not best for us. There is no condemnation for us in Jesus (see Rom. 8:1), and that means we're free to be honest so we can find healing. With that in mind, which of those scenarios do you relate to most? Why? __________________________________________________________________
The reality is, we all have a little bit of each of these women in us. We're all fallen, broken, and searching for ways to fill the voids in our hearts. Like I just said, God understands and he doesn't condemn us. He sees how easily we can be trapped by the very things we think will set us free. He knows that we're tempted to try to be perfect so that we feel safe. He also knows that perfection is impossible for us. That's why he sent Jesus.
Here's the paradox: while we're not able to be perfect, we also must be perfect to stand in God's presence. We're born into sin, and none of us goes through life without messing up. Even if you're a really "good" person, that's not enough. "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it" (James 2:10). We don't have any hope of achieving perfection ourselves. So what does that mean? We need Jesus to transfer his perfection to us because we can never be perfect on our own.
When Jesus died on the cross, he took the punishment we deserved on himself and resolved our sin issue once and for all. That's why he said, "It is finished" (John 19:30). When we believe in Jesus as our Savior, we receive not only salvation but also a new identity. "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me" (Gal. 2:20). Jesus takes your sin and gives you his perfection in return. This truth is the center of the gospel. Without it, Christianity is no different than other religions, which tell people to try harder and do more good so they can get into heaven. You do not have to live that way.
The writer of Hebrews describes what Jesus did for us this way: "For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy" (10:14). Through Jesus, we are given perfection that we could never have on our own. That's positional perfection, and it allows us to stand in right relationship with God.
Positional perfection can only be received. It can never be earned. When we try to do for ourselves what only Jesus can, we take the power out of what has been done on our behalf. God wants to set us free so our lives will no longer need to be about pursuing perfection. He wants us instead to be a people of grace, love, and joy.
You might ask, "But doesn't God care about what I do?" Yes, he does. And when we realize how much he truly loves us, we care more and more too. So there's a second part to perfection: it's the process of "being made holy" described in Hebrews 10:14. This simply means that throughout our lives, God wants us to become more like Jesus. At the same time, he also knows that the process will not be complete until heaven.
And God is the one who perfects us—we don't do it ourselves. Our role is to stay in close relationship with him. As we do so, the changes that need to happen in our lives naturally begin to take place. Jesus said he's the Vine and we're the branches. Our role is simply to stay connected to him. Ironically, we stunt our spiritual growth when we're focused on making ourselves perfect.
We will go into much more detail about what I shared above throughout this book. We'll also talk about specific verses like "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matt. 5:48) that can cause confusion about what God expects from us. But for now I want your heart to take hold of these two essential truths:
* You do not have to be perfect for God to love or accept you. When you receive Jesus as your Savior, his perfection is transferred to you, and you are in right relationship with God.
* Until you get to heaven, you will be in a process of being made holy by God (in other words, becoming more like Jesus). In the meantime, God wants you to focus on your relationship with him and not on changing outward behavior.
You may be wondering, "But what do I do when I sin?" You can simply go to God and say, "I was wrong, I'm sorry, and I'm ready to change. Will you please forgive me and help me?" Then move forward knowing God loves you just as much in your worst moments as he does in your best.
Excerpted from You're Loved No Matter What by Holley Gerth. Copyright © 2015 Holley Gerth. Excerpted by permission of Revell.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Quick Quiz, 13,
1. Why You Really Don't Have to Be Perfect, 15,
2. Embracing the Freedom That's Already Yours, 27,
3. Trading Guilt for Grace, 43,
4. What Your Heart Really Needs Is Perfect Love, 59,
5. The God Who Loves You More Than You Know, 79,
6. Daring to Be Who You Already Are, 95,
7. Finding Healing in Your Relationships, 113,
8. A Practical Plan for Beating Perfectionism, 131,
9. A New Perspective That Will Change Your Life, 149,
10. The Perfect Place You're Heading One Day, 161,
11. Freeing Your Heart Forever, 177,
Go Deeper Guide (for Individuals and Groups), 191,
About Holley, 219,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Once again Holley Gerth has written a book to touch and inspire the hearts of women everywhere. Her latest book, You're Loved No Matter What is a sweet, soft whisper to my tired and weary heart. And probably yours too. Gerth explores why women are becoming weary from doing, doing and more doing and feeling like they can't possibly do enough. But, as the book walks us through, doing was never God's plan for us. No wonder we're tired. Each chapter has room at the end to explore the thoughts deeper and more personally with a few prompts and questions. As well as the back of the book has a Go Deeper Guide for individuals and groups. Although this wasn't my favorite book of Holley's I found the truths in it powerful and inspiring. A few of my favorite parts were: • You have freedom to take risks. Holley writes: "Perfectionism is the great paralyzer. It tells us we shouldn't take a step, make a decision, or try anything new because it might not be just right." • Pursue excellence, not perfection. And, Accept that not everything in your life can be excellent. "You only have so much time, energy and emotion in your day. It's okay not to be excellent at everything." I found Holley's endearing and comforting voice to be refreshing. She writes as if I'm her friend (and you too) and we're sitting down at a small little bistro somewhere having coffee. A fantastic book that I recommend for all women who are feeling the pull to go, go, go. This one's definitely a keeper for my book shelf! Thanks to the author and publisher for the opportunity to review this book. I was not required to review it positively. Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Holley Gerth is incredibly gifted with her words. I don’t know her personally, but I hope our paths cross one day so I can just tell her in person what she’s done for my confidence in the last few years. So needless to say, when I received Holley’s new book, “You’re Loved No Matter What” in the mail a few weeks back I was excited. But I have a teensy weensy bit of a confession to make. I foolishly let myself think that Holley spoke all the life into me that she could. That she just couldn’t do any better than she already had in her previous books and I’d be reading some of the same words with a bit of a fresh twist. Don’t get me wrong, we all need a fresh twist. Yes, I’ll admit it. When I find a gem of a book I tend to think it can never be outdone. That God would send words through someone else this next go-around. If you don’t already know where this is going you’re obviously sleep deprived and need to go grab yourself a cup of coffee and come back later because whoa. was. i. wrong. After all of my own personal flashbacks set in, I had to stop and consider the situation I was going through with my daughter. We were literally reliving the same problems I had as a kid. It suddenly dawned on me what the issue was when I stumbled onto the following quote in Holley’s book: “God doesn’t hand out medals for performance. He hands out crowns for perseverance.” *** So I found myself sitting on the edge of my bed chatting about talents with my oldest daughter. I told her that we can’t hide our talents from the world out of fear of failure. I told her that talents would never improve unless we put forth the effort to hone them. But that, even then, we might never hit this imaginary mark we feel we need to hit in order to receive praise. I carefully went over the words in Holley’s book and plainly stated the following: “There is no expectation on you but to persevere.” I had no idea how much of an impact that statement would be for her but her attitude was adjusted almost immediately. Her obvious solution was to give in and quit. But in all honesty, all she really needed was permission to tell herself that she didn’t have to be the best. She never once thought that perhaps she could stay in the game and have fun and never need to finish first. *** Not only was I wrong about the idea that maybe Holley wouldn’t be able to speak any additional words into my life than she already had, but I had no idea that her words could impact a girl so young. “You’re Loved No Matter What” is exactly what my growing girl needed to hear. She was dying on the inside because she believed she was failing. Holley was here to help me tell her that she had the love of God…and the love of her family…no matter what. And you know what? She hasn’t mentioned quitting again…
You're Loved No Matter What: Freeing Your Heart From the Need to be Perfect iss such an inspiring read. I thought the book was beautifully written and spoke to me more than I had expected. I look forward to reading more books Holley Gerth. Great book. Five stars
I recently read You're Loved No Matter What by Holley Gerth. This book is full of helpful and insightful information on dealing with perfectionism. While I found everything Holley said to be true and beneficial, I found the writing style to be a little slow and slightly boring. For this reason, I did not finish the book. I simply just don't have the time to struggle through something that I cannot keep my eyes open to read. Perhaps writing these helpful tips in a more energetic manner would have been better. This book also felt like it was geared towards someone in an older age range than my own 20 years. Not a bad book, but not a great one either. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
Women tend to feel the need to be perfect. It starts when we are young and are competing for the perfect clothes to fit in and continues when we strive to be the perfect wife, mom, employee, etc. What would happen if we all stopped trying to be perfect and became the person that God wants us to be? The author delves into this concept and uses her own life as an example to show how we can be wonderfully, imperfectly human and still have a happy, Christ-centered life. First, I loved the cover. Second, I loved the inside. The author was able to take a concept with the potential to be boring and make it interesting and doable. She talked from the heart and it showed. Her concepts were right on target. I liked how she presented the material in a way that made it easy to understand and implement. Each chapter ends with questions that further cement the concepts. This would also make the book work well for small group study. I loved this book and intend to share it with my friends. I received this book free of charge from Revel Reads in exchange for my honest review.
Holley Gerth in her new book, “You’re Loved No Matter What” published by Revell gives us Freeing Your Heart from the Need to Be Perfect. From the Back Cover: As women, we tend to think that if we could only get our act together, life would be perfect. But you’re not supposed to be perfect. You’re supposed to be human. And humans are messy, flawed, glorious, and deeply loved. It’s time to lay down those unrealistic expectations that exhaust you. It’s time to embrace who you are–even the messy parts. It’s time to start living fully instead of just trying not to fail. Let’s do this. Together. —————————– How would your life be different if you truly believed you’re loved just as you are? Bestselling author Holley Gerth shares how God wants to set our hearts free by revealing the lies we believe as well as the scandalous grace and acceptance offered to us instead. She helps us lay down our unrealistic expectations so we can embrace who God created us to be, pursue his purpose for our lives, and offer others the love we’ve been freely given. “Perfectionism” is not a superpower. We cannot use it to banish anxiety and create unbreakable relationships. In fact it may actually be part of what caused our depression and anxiety in the first place. And “Perfectionism” can keep us from discovering God’s purpose for our lives. Here is the reality: we are not supposed to be perfect. We are just supposed to be human. So if you say, “I’ll handle such & such by being excellent, competent, and fully capable” then you are being a perfectionist. How about this: “I’ll stand very still and not make any waves” Guess what you also are being a perfectionist. The good news is that Jesus is all good so that we do not have to be. He has taken away all of our sin and when we are weak He is always strong. Now that we are free from the trap of “Perfectionism” we can use His grace to be who He wants us to be and do what He wants us to do. “You’re Loved No Matter What” is a message that we all need to hear so this book is for us. It is a perfect gift for friends and family so they may hear this message as well. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
I have two other books by Gerth and I subscribe to her blog, so I knew what to expect when I signed up to review this book. I was not disappointed. You're Loved No Matter What is a love letter to those of us who struggle with feeling we can never be good enough.. Holley's gift of encouragement is amazing. How does she know what I'm thinking -- what I've thought? And how does she know exactly what I need to hear? I recommend this book to anyone who needs to hear godly affirmations and practical insight into why they feel as though they have to be perfect. My thanks to the publisher for my copy in exchange for my fair and impartial review.
Holley Gerth states the following in her introduction to this book. “As women, we tend to look at ‘perfection’ as a superpower. If we could only be perfect, then we could beat depression, banish anxiety, and create unbreakable relationships. Being perfect feels like the best protection in a world that demands we have it all together…………. The pursuit of perfection keeps us from joy, love, peace, hope, and so many of the other gifts God intends for us.” In the rest of this book, Holley Gerth, dispels the myths about perfectionism and why it isn’t necessary. She addresses God’s perfect love and how our perfection comes from Jesus not from what we do. She puts perfectionism in proper perspective and explains how women can free themselves from its bondage because when we do things that don’t work out it becomes a part of our growth process. I thought this was a well-written book. The author writes clearly and explains concepts and the emotion associated with the concepts in a way that is relatable. She doesn’t preach or write in “tell” mode but rather from a perspective of someone who understands and has similar experiences. I found much helpful and insightful information that transformed my way of thinking. And I appreciated her explanation of the difference between perfectionism and excellence. This book would be great as a book club choice where it could be discussed with other women. In fact, Holley Gerth has a Go Deeper Guide section at the end of the book set up for just that purpose. Below is a favorite quote: “Yes, God does have a perfect will. But it’s not like a straight path. It’s more like a GPS route. God has destinations for our lives, yes, but he also understands there will be detours, wrong turns and delays along the way. That means for us to discover God’s will, we’ve got to get in the car and start going somewhere.” I would highly recommend this book to any woman who struggles with thoughts of perfectionism. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell in exchange for an honest review.
I received a free ebook copy of this novel from the publisher Revell Reads at Baker Books in exchange for an honest review as part of a blog tour. You're Loved No Matter What is much more than just another book about unconditional love. This is a deep and perceptive look at familiar scriptures that may not be as straightforward as they once seemed, but instead give us a completely new perspective on perfection as the world sees it in contrast to perfection from the point of view of God. Many of the problems that affect our daily lives come from our lack of perfection, we think. If we were just perfect, perhaps . . . our spouse would love us the way we'd like, our children would be better behaved, our boss would be happier with our performance, our parents wouldn't be so critical. If I could just be like Mary who has it all together, or like Jane whose house is perfect, or like Sandra who is always being complimented by the boss. But is trying to be like someone else or trying to be perfect going to make our lives better? Ms. Gerth says not only will it not make things better but it isn't what God wants for us. We already have "positional perfection" through Christ's sacrifice and our acceptance of salvation, and His will for us is to love Him and love others through His grace. I found this a very challenging concept -- to let go of trying to always do things perfectly, to always say "yes" when asked to do something for fear of letting people down. But fear is not part of love -- "perfect love drives out fear [and shame and condemnation], because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love" (1John 4:18), and God wants our relationship to be secure and not driven by fear of Him. Paul says, "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 1:6). Our perfection will be "completed" by Him at the end, not in the here and now. Life is a journey of growth where we are expected to love one another, not to strive for the unattainable perfection we cannot achieve on our own but only through our relationship with Christ. To work, which is good in God's eyes, for excellence, using the talents He has given us, and be satisfied to let other things be "good", will give us the peace we seek and help us to let go of the rest. Holley points out that excellence can be described differently depending on the conditions; chicken soup with rice can be an excellent meal when the whole household is down with the flu. Holley gives us a lot of scripture-based ideas and resources to help us determine who we are and how we love and encourages us to let go of trying to be like someone else we may think has the perfect handle on things. She also tells us that changing our perspective on the concept of perfection will not be easy and we may backslide into that striving over and over again, but once we're aware of it, we can continue to rest in His love and His standing before the Father. There are many websites with resources offered here, including Holley's own site where links are provided and print-outs of practical exercises and discussion questions are available. Some of this, brings me back to "living intentionally" with a committed prayer community because changes do not occur in isolation -- we need people in our corner as well as needing to accept that He loves us as we are. This book is life-changing and growth-encouraging, and will end up with page corners turned down and highlighted passages to be referred to again and again. It will allow you to be who you are -- who God intended you to be.
Our world is many things. It's big, beautiful, wild, wonderful, delightful, dizzying, sad, and scary. And in this world, when it gets overwhelming, we have two common responses. The first says "I'll handle this by being excellent, competent, and fully capable. I will manage the world through my efforts and performance." Obviously, the first example screams "perfectionism!" That's become a bit of a buzzword lately, applied rightfully and wrongfully to a lot of people. I've never been that Type A over achiever. I'm not driven or ambitious. In fact, I'm quite slow to move on anything. I tend to watch other people live and cheer quietly from the sidelines. I let opportunities come to me, and sometimes I let them pass right by. So it would seem that I am not a perfectionist, and I resigned myself to reading a book that didn't apply to me. But then Holley listed a second example of how people cope with the world. This belief says "I'll stand very still, and if I don't chase after anything or rock the boat, then I'll avoid any potential damage or danger. I may not make any friends, but I won't accidentally hurt anybody either. I may not step out of my comfort zone, but I won't inconvenience anyone either. I may not share my life too personally with anyone, but I won't upset them either." That's me. And then Holley explained that this is perfection-based too. You're afraid to try because you're afraid to fail. The glorious thing is, Holley has a third option to tell us about. Instead of trying too hard or running and hiding, we can live freely and fully. Now that's quite a promise to make, isn't it? But Holley has a sure thing backing up her promise- Jesus set us free, took away our sin, took on our humanity, and can dissolve our fears with His kindness. So this book tells us where we are- we're held close by the Shepherd, seen through his eyes of love. We're not good enough, but He is all goodness, and so we don't need to be. And this book asks you to find out who you are- how did God make you? What do you have to give? How do you work and learn and give and receive love? Because Holley is convinced that God calls us all to walk in His way, and that there's a unique way for each of us to do so. One of the best chapters, I thought, was the one about the will of God. If the will of God is that we be conformed to the Image of His Son, then that's a lifelong process. And we don't need to see everything up ahead, and all our efforts don't have to pan out, and we can even mess things up along the way. What matters, she insists, is that we start moving and trying and doing- He'll guide us through it all. There's a compelling chapter about trading Guilt for Grace, with diagrams that accurately represent the two cycles- Grace begets obedience and intimacy, Guilt spawns shame and isolation. Holley describes how she returns to these truths throughout her day, centering her heart with gratitude and trust. Obviously, when we begin to accept grace for ourselves, it will change our relationships with others. All of the the steps we take toward freedom and fullness will help us as we live with our people. There is a cycle to break, the cycle of Criticism and Condemnation. The good news is that we can replace those imposters with Encouragement and Correction. One word, act, and prayer at a time, we can build life-affirming connections with friends and family. Ultimately, it all comes down to this... "We can carry less when we become convinced that we're cared for more than we can even imagine." ~Holley Gerth. And I love that. So if you worry yourself sick about your performance, and you crave freedom and fullness, then "You're Loved No Matter What" will speak to you. Thank you to Revell Reads for my review copy.
Wednesday, March 11, 2015 You're Loved No Matter What by Holley Gerth, © 2015 Freeing Your Heart from the Need to Be Perfect A come-along-side book to study in a group or as part of your devotional time in a quiet setting, freeing your heart from the need to be perfect will blend into a love beyond measure in your relationship with God, Our Father. Discovering His purpose for our lives without distortion! As in a marriage, unrealistic expectations bog you down. As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. --Psalm 42:1 ~ God's Word to the Nations I love this example given, pages 91-92: There's an old story about two pots. One was perfect in every way. The other had cracks and broken places. Each day a woman filled the pots with rainwater she collect and then carried them down the path to her home. The first pot felt proud that she never leaked a single drop. The other felt ashamed, because no matter how hard she tried, she spilled a lot along the way. One day the two pots overheard the woman talking with someone who lived nearby. The neighbor exclaimed, "The flowers along your path are so beautiful! What's your secret?" The woman answered, "One of my pots is broken, and the water that spills out helps the flowers grow every day." May we be open to what He is doing in and through our lives; His overflow allowed to pour out upon others. He is the freedom, allowing others to come alongside too. When we truly believe we're already loved, our lives become a response to God's love and we want to do what pleases Him. Page 133 ~ When we live under perfectionism, we're following a system that has this progression: Work ----------> Approval But God switches the order: Approval ----------> Work When we do what we do as a response to knowing we're already loved and accepted, rather than as a way to earn love and acceptance, it changes everything. And best of all ~ Holley notes she crossed out w-o-r-k-er and replaced it with w-o-r-s-h-i-p-e-r ~ page 187 ~ ...here's how we're meant to live, friends: with one handful holding tight to what God has given us--love, joy, peace, grace, goodness. And the other hand empty and open for whatever else he would have us receive. I have entered a few things in my review that stood out to me ~ far smaller than the whole. Full of love and grace, we can receive all that is meant especially and exactly for us individually and collectively! ***Thank you to Revell Nonfiction for inviting me to be part of the blog tour for Holley Gerth's You're Loved No Matter What and for sending me a review copy. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***
Once again, I am going to be honest. I am a prideful person that likes to think I get what I need from God, not "women's books". In fact, I usually run away from women's groups, women's books, etc... That being said, I knew I needed to read this book for a review, so I was kinda skimming over the words and just thinking, "blah blah blah". It's really no wonder that God has to really.... knock me down a few pegs.... a lot.? Not in a bad way, but, in love. And, boy do I LOVE it... So, after a few chapters of not really knowing anything she had said, I promptly confessed my pride and started over. I may or may not have actually gotten some really neat stuff out of it. (; Holley has a way of saying things and just getting it out there. No gray. Just black and white. I really found myself enjoying it and, as you can clearly see, underlining portions. Actually, there were a lot of things that she said I hadn't thought about, or just really stuck out as something I want to remember. The point of the book is to show us we don't have to be perfect. That's the lie that started in the Garden of Eden and we continue believing it to this day. We were not made perfect. Only God is. So why do we try so hard? One quote that really stuck out to me was, "Our role is simply to stay connected to Him. Ironically, we stunt our spiritual growth when we're focused on making ourselves perfect." So, all this to say, Great Book! I absolutely recommend it. Make sure you check it out (and pray for me to continue to defeat my pride with God's help!!) Thank you, Revell, for this book. As always, this is my honest review! Here's to many more!!!
I love the way that Holley writes, it is like sitting down with your best friend and sharing your heart over coffee (or tea). In true Holley fashion this book does not disappoint. "You're Loved No Matter What addresses freeing your heart from perfection. If you have ever struggled with perfection, and tried to earn affection by being perfect this book is for you. It is written in an easy to read way that will make you want to gobble it up, but I urge you to read again and savor the book. Holley starts out by explaining the lure of perfection to our souls. She then reminds us of the freedom that we find in Christ and how we no longer need to strive for perfection. She offers questions for deeper reflection throughout the book as well as a guide to go deeper at the end of the book. One of my favorite quotes from the book is: We hide who we are and try to fit in. Our souls start feeling cramped and we long for a way out, a place where we can breathe a bit easier. But fear keeps us confined within walls of our own making. We find out that "perfect" is a lonely place to be, because even when you're with people you're not fully there. For those who would like to study this book with a group online Kristin Taylor has started a Facebook group to study the book. You can read more about that at 152 Insights Into My Soul. The study will start March 16th and run until May 25th, so that we can dig deeper into the book. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell Reads Blog Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
What if you really believed what the Bible says about God — that He loves you like a perfect Father, like a perfect Husband, like the perfect Friend, like the perfect Leader? What if you let the truth sink into your soul that God’s perfect love is not tied to your performance or to your success or to the way you look in your yoga pants? In You’re Loved No Matter What, Holly Gerth invites you to consider how embracing this truth might change the way you relate to your children, clean your house, approach your job, conduct your ministry, and even how you look back at yourself from the mirror. Having battled the pitfalls of perfection, Holly challenges women to a right understanding of God and His Word with the goal of correcting faulty responses to verses such as Matthew 5:48: “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The Greek word for perfect [teleios] is more about maturing growth or completion than it is about being perfect right now; and, furthermore, God makes it clear in his Word that the perfection our hearts long for will only be fulfilled completely in Him — and in the future. Holley’s chapter on heaven (delightful!) explains that our bent and broken striving for perfection in our present life is evidence that God made us for something far better than what we experience on this planet. The fact that we are being made holy (Hebrews 10:14) is only a foreshadowing of the perfect place, perfect relationships and perfect people found only in Heaven. In the meantime, God has called his women to a grace-oriented freedom from perfectionism. Holley shares transparently about her own lifelong and on-going battle to take the grace offered in Christ. Reading descriptions of her lunch meetings with friends and heart-to-heart conversations, I felt as if I had been invited to pour a cup and pull up a chair. In a sisterhood that, together, receives what is already ours in Christ, there will be blessed freedom to say no, to be unique, to carry less, to ignore the Pharisees, and to take risks. Warm and relational, yet solid and Truth-based, You’re Loved No Matter What is an excellent resource for a group study with a Seven-Step Action Plan and a Go-Deeper Guide, but would be equally effective for individual use by women of any age. The fears that we battle, the guilt that gnaws at our bones, the endless race to do enough and be enough can end today with the heart-healing truth that being a Christian is not about “leading a good life.” It is not about perfection on this planet. What Christ offers is a new identity: perfection in Him; the freedom to be who you were created to be; and a healing relationship with a God who truly is perfect in every way and loves you perfectly — no matter what. This book was provided by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my unbiased review.