Sunday, February 9, 2014

You're Going to Be Okay by Holley Gerth (book review)

If your life isn't perfect...
If you've ever been disappointed...
If you feel stressed or tired...
This is for you.

This is from the back cover of Holley Gerth's new book, "You're Going to Be Okay." When I first picked up this book, it was by recommendation from another blogger friend. I wasn't sure it was for me. 
image via Amazon

To be honest, we're in a place of good right now. We haven't moved in over a year, there haven't been any big upheavals for awhile. It's a place of rest, I think, which can be mundane and boring but also a little less stressful, too.

This is not to say there aren't stressful things in my life. I have two young boys whose ears are perpetually closed to my voice. There is an issue that my husband and I have been avoiding discussing (although it's come to discussion in the past few weeks but not a decision). But for the most part, it's been peaceful in the S Club. 

However, I found this book was (is) for me. Because my life isn't perfect. I've been disappointed (I live with humans!). I feel stressed and tired, sometimes at the same time! So this book is for me. And probably you, too. "You're Going to Be Okay" is full of encouragement! My copy of this book is now full of circles, underlines, stars, and notes. Full.

I wanted to share some of the encouragement I found from this book (but know there is so much more I'm not sharing just to keep this shorter):

This is not a direct quote but Chapter 3 teaches about how our brains work. How our "brain stem is the most primitive and basic part of your brain." It's the caveman part of us - the fight-or-flight response fires here. It responds to threats (both of the physical danger kind and the "snarky remark your co-worker made" kind) the same and it "doesn't like change." So change feels dangerous to us, which is why it's so difficult to make changes! The limbic system of our brain "has two primary roles that involve emotion and connection...It acts as a processor that interprets what's happening to us and assigns emotions to events." Finally, we have the neocortex where our brain finally "make[s] decisions, think[s] deep thoughts, and ultimately determine[s] a course of action. It's also the place where being 'transformed by the renewing of your mind' (Romans 12:2) actually happens." In this chapter, it talks about how it's so hard for us to make changes, even good ones because our brains are set up to protect us. I believe this means for me that sometimes my thoughts don't go past caveman (or woman) to get to that logical point. When I'm angry I stay in that brain stem and seemingly protect myself (whilst hurting others too often) rather than thinking harder, letting the problem get to my neocortex.

The book goes on to share strategies of how to better process difficult situations, including finding out what kind of processor you are: verbal, internal, written, eventual, hands-on. At my best, I am written and hands-on although I immediately turn to verbal, although I am at my worst in that way. I don't process WELL verbally; I hurt feelings and relationships. But when I think about it and write it down, I can process it much better. Or sometimes I need a good deep cleaning of my house to process. Other ways to process difficult situations and change our reactions are to be joyful in hope, be patient in affliction, be faithful in prayer (all types of prayer - there is not a formula for this!), thinking of "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable..." (Phil 4:8), checking our emotions against the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

Chapter 5 speaks on sabotaging ourselves and how to not do it. One quote really stuck out to me about emotional sabotage in the form of expectations: "living under expectations is the modern version of living under the law." Please re-read that. Again. Let it sink in! How many of us (if you're a woman and say no to this, I think you're lying and that's another biblical lesson) have been let down by our expectations???? We expect to be Wonder Woman, Supermom, Dynamic Diva, [insert your superhero version of yourself] and are let down when we just.cannot.do.it.all. No, you can't do it all. There is no balance in life - when you put your attention one place, something else falls lower. And THAT IS OKAY!! "In place of expectations, Jesus gives us invitations. He tells us, 'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest' (Matt. 11:28). And what burdens us more than expectations?" Mamas, you understand this - we are tired! I think that for all that feminism & such gave to women (the right to vote, cuter clothes, close-to-equal pay, etc), it has taken a toll on women everywhere. Men were never meant to do it all and neither were we. It's tiring having to live up to our own expectations! And, in Christ, we don't have to. We can have rest. Doesn't that sound great?!

The last thing I'll share from the book is that when you are going through a rough time (divorce, health problems, depression, stress, etc. It comes in all forms), we often give up our passions and interests first thing to, I think, try to conserve energy. But "The farther away we get from who God intended us to be, the weaker and more disconnected we feel." Another good point is that for women, this really tends to be true "because we have so many choices and opportunities, ironically many of us are actually doing less of what we really love." Ladies (and gentlemen!), "we have to fight hard to hold on to what we know God has placed us in the world to do. And that is not a selfish choice." We need to be who God wants us to be doing what He wants us to do - that is going to energize us! Be choosy and do the things you love!

I love the writing style Gerth brings to this book of encouragement. It's friendly, faith-filled - like a girlfriend just pulled up a stool in a cafe to talk truth into your life. I highly recommend this, even if life is going well for you. Because life ebbs and flows, it's not going to be a constant greatness (something else I learned from this book!). Hard times will come and with this book you can be prepared for them.

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. Others' opinions may differ from my own.

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