Have you ever met a Christian who seems way too happy? They're always in a good mood, nothing ever seems to get them down, they're always talking about how the Lord is blessing them and seem to think every adversity is a chance for God to show how he provides for his children? And you think to yourself, If this person ever faces any REAL trouble in life, that perma-smile and perky outlook are gonna go right out the window.
Well, I read Kimberley Woodhouse's book Welcome Home! My Journey to Extreme Joy and I can tell you I will never think that way again. Turns out joy can indeed persevere, flourish, and even thrive through adversity--and I'm talking some serious adversity here.
When I first started reading Welcome Home! I was a little...well...put off, honestly, by how Kim always seemed to see the bright side and stay so positive. I mean, no one would fault her for being a little cynical, a little jaded, after everything she and her family have been through. I thought maybe she was one of those Christians who is afraid to admit she's scared, or angry at God, or worried that maybe things aren't going to turn out okay in the end, lest a negative experience be all that it takes to sweep away her faith. I wanted her to admit, just once, that she doubted God's goodness, that at least once she decided to chuck Christianity altogether. I mean, that's how people are "supposed" to react when they're hit in the face with tragedy and strife. Sure, eventually they may come back to the faith, with a few dings in their shield of faith, but still wielding it nonetheless. But how can you face up in an honest way to those kinds of experiences and NOT be a little worse for the wear?
Oh me of little faith.
Kim reminded me--often--of James' words to "consider it pure joy...when faced with trials of many kinds." Oh yeah. Not that I forget about that verse--it's just that I tend to quote it while gritting my teeth and rolling my eyes. Not Kim, though. She has the audacity to take God at his word and believe that we actually CAN have joy--true, authentic joy, not a mask with a smile that hides our true feelings--in the midst of trials.
Welcome Home! was not only an inspiring story, but a mirror that showed me the inadequacy of my own faith. That might sound depressing--who wants to read a book that reminds them at every turn that they suck?--but it was actually incredibly uplifting. To see someone living out their faith the way the Bible encourages us to helped me to see the ways in which I need to deepen my own relationship with Christ. And since I'm the kind of person who needs "action points" to focus on, I was glad to have the pointers.
So...in a nutshell, the book was great and I highly recommend it. And you might have noticed Kim's name on the list of authors I posted last night who will be at the Denver book signing on Saturday. So after you've stopped by my table (nudge nudge) be sure to head over to Kim's and grab a copy of Welcome Home! I'm confident you'll find it as extremely insightful as I did.
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