I received a copy of this book as a Family Christian Blogger. The opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced by Family Christian or anyone else.
Years ago, while reading Lysa Terkeurst’s Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl, I received such freedom from God that I thought “Whew, I’m so glad I learned all of those powerful Biblical truths!” I truly believed that I was cured from the need to be good in the eyes of others. But in the years since then I find myself continuously surrendering my desire to please others, just to pick it back up. And then surrender it again. It’s exhausting.
I know that’s why I connected with the cover of Christine Hoover’s latest book From Good to Grace: Letting Go of The Goodness Gospel. It shows a woman (probably a mom) sitting in a laundry basket as she thumbs through a book. I can totally identify with her – too tired to find a “proper” place to recline and read. Like her, I have to steal away moments to read. And I’ve loved every moment I’ve spent reading this book.
She had me at “Good, Bye”
Yes, that’s totally a reference to “Jerry Maguire”. High five for those of you who got it. And for those of you who didn’t, you can look it up later. The book is split up into three sections, each covering three chapters (the math teacher in me was tickled by the symmetry of that). I’ve only gotten through the first section which is titled Good, Bye (hence the heading above). Although I’m only three chapters into the book I know that Christine wrote this book just for me.
Sure, I know it’s her story, but it’s just as much mine as it is hers. She talks of her obsession with being good – trying to win the approval of others and God. My heart winced as I let her words sink in that the gospel isn’t just for salvation; it’s for everyday life. Too often I wave the banner of God’s power and tout what He’s done, totally neglecting what He is still doing in my life. I accept that salvation is by faith alone, but somehow expect sanctification to be a different story. Thinking and acting as if I need to go it alone.
The goodness gospel that Christine describes is all about caring more what others think of us than what God does. She writes about putting chains on ourselves and I can most certainly relate. I take the chains of bondage that Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection freed me from and I wear them like jewelry. They weigh me down and I remain stuck for fear that whatever I share will be judged, or the presentation of my thoughts won’t be witty or compelling enough. I question and doubt not only my ability to write, but my calling to be in this arena, or any other for that matter.
Christine spoke directly to my heart when she confessed “Unfortunately for me, a large part of a goodness obsession is an addiction to self. Goodness is evaluated by activity, completed tasks, responses from others, and results. It requires a focus on appearance and image and maintaining some semblance of religious behavior […] Goodness fed both my pride and my self-condemnation” Oh how I wish that I could just create the perfect checklist and be better once I’ve completed all those tasks.
Alas, I know that isn’t possible. What’s more, I know that isn’t what God wants from me. Or you. As Christine succinctly puts it, “He simply wants us to follow him, receive him, submit to him, and […] let what we receive from him compel us outward to serve and love others.”
I’m looking forward to reading the rest of From Good to Grace. I smile just thinking about stealing away moments to read it. I must confess that I almost added it to my daily checklist. I decided not to. I decided instead to let it remain a “get to” rather than a “have to”. I highly recommend this book if you, like me, struggle with a goodness addiction.