I received a copy of "You're Loved No Matter What: Freeing Your Heart from the Need to be Perfect," written by Holley Gerth, from Family Christian Stores for the purpose of generating a review. Italicized quotes are from the author. The opinions expressed here are my own.
I dream of retreating to a monastery some day. The world is a noisy place and I do more than my share of contributing to it most of the time. Sometimes I just long for a place to reflect in silence.
If I ever get the opportunity to do a retreat like this, I’d take “You’re Loved No Matter What” by Holley Gerth with me. Right there in the bag with my Bible and pen.
Throughout the book, Holley explores our deep need to appear perfect. Why are we like this? How does it harm us? What can we do about it?
Early on in the book, she reminds us how beneficial making a mistake can be (yes, really) and how messing up in this way has different results than when we sin:
Mistakes help us learn; Sin is a choice we deliberately make even though we know better.
Mistakes are done with innocence; Sin comes from a heart that holds rebellion.
Mistakes lead to growth; Sin leads to decay.
Further, Holley moves on to helping us realize the benefit of saying no. We fear looking less than perfect when we can’t do it all. But guess what, we can’t do it all!
As she shares with us, even Jesus said NO:
No to becoming King (see John 6:15)
No to offers of instant satisfaction, wealth, and power (see Matt. 4:1-11)
No to coming right away when Lazarus became deathly ill (see John 11)
In addition to being a writer, Holley is a certified life coach. Much of her book walks you through things she’d work with if you met with her one on one. This part in particular made me long for a time of retreat. Long periods of uninterrupted time to explore the various personality tests in chapter six. Time to think through what practical applications from chapter eight I could implement in my own life.
You can’t read this book in one or two settings. It’s a slow, reflective process.
Using a variety of Bible stories and Scripture, Holley drives home the point that our very best weapon against perfectionism is the realization that we serve a God who already loves us so much.
God can’t be unloving.
God’s love has no limits.
God’s love has no requirements.
God’s love can’t be earned.
Just reading these words again made me sigh in relief.
Through the years I’ve looked into the eyes of hurting women and asked, “Do you really believe God loves you - not just tolerates you?”
This passage took me a recent activity we did in Bible study. We all wrote down “God does not hate me. He loves me!” Seemingly a simple phrase, but do we believe it? Enough that it changes us from the inside out?
“In the Christian life, our focus is never to be on results. Instead it’s to be on remaining.” (see John 15:5)
Finally, she takes us from examining how much we believe God loves us to how this effects the way we treat other people.
Our striving for perfectionism negatively effects those around us. This book gives example after example.
In discussing the various ways, I underlined and highlighted this sentence:
Gossip, criticism, and condemnation have one opposite: encouragement.
Every chapter ends with a series of questions to answer. In the back of the book, there is a “Go Deeper Guide.”
My reality is I don’t see myself getting away for a spiritual retreat any time soon. Chances are you don’t have that opportunity either. But this book could offer some real opportunity to reflect in the meantime.