Many of us wonder while in difficult circumstances or trying times what the purpose is – as in, why we are experiencing what we are experiencing. I can imagine that Esther Fleece wondered that many, many times. I’m not certain that we ever get a full understanding of the why of our circumstances. I’m not even certain that there always is a why.
In No More Faking Fine, Esther Fleece tells her story. She is both a skilled writer and an emotional storyteller. My story has very little similarity to hers, but my feelings throughout my journey echo hers in so many ways. The desires to be known and loved are universal feelings. The pain of betrayal, abandonment and abuse are also universal. This book deals with all of those things in such a tender and wise way.
The title of the book led me to assume that this was a book about authenticity, and it sort of is. But mostly it’s about lament. Now, I should admit that before this book I knew very little about lament. I couldn’t have defined it and I would never have said that lament was a part of my life (or even that it should be). After reading No More Faking Fine, I am convinced that lament is possibly the most important thing I never knew I needed.
No More Faking Fine is broken into 11 chapters separated into three parts: Faking Fine, A New Way to Pray and To Sing Again. Each chapter begins with a short scripture verse and ends with a beautiful prayer filled with more scripture references.
This book unearthed things that I had buried deep inside myself and caused me to want to deal with them for the first time in a very long time. The themes of forgiveness, healing, and repentance are heavily covered in this book. In fact, if there could be only one thing I take away from this book it will be the idea that forgiveness is not possible without lament. This one concept may change my life – I pray that it does. Here are my favorite quotes from the section on forgiveness:
“I am convinced we cannot forgive offenses without first lamenting those offenses appropriately. We need the grace of God, the example of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit to help us look favorably upon a person who has wronged us. And we first need to lament the wrong that has been done to us.” (p160)
“Unprocessed, unforgiven hurt means we still carry it around with us. It means it still drags us down. But forgiveness is our invitation to process the pain so we can be authentically freed from it. Forgiveness is a process of releasing our laments to God. It is feeling the weight of what this person did to cause you harm, taking this offense directly to God, and telling Him exactly how it made you feel. We have to lament it, not forget it, in order to move forward.” (p162)
I cannot say why things happen the way they do, why bad things happen, or why people hurt people, but I can say for certain that God can and will use our circumstances to bring hope to others. He can use our stories to love people, to teach them about His character, and to lead them towards healing and wholeness. Esther Fleece is bravely doing exactly that with this book. I pray that it travels well – into the hearts and lives of those who need it most and that it brings with it the healing power of Jesus over the wounds of those who are hurting. There are very few books that I believe carry with them the power to mend broken hearts and lives – this is one of them.
Some of my favorite QUOTABLES from No More Faking Fine by Esther Fleece:
- I should note that it took a full 20 minutes to narrow down this list. There are so many quotables in this book that many of them could spawn new books (and I sincerely hope that they do)!
“For so much of my life, I thought sucking it up and faking away the pain showed true strength. But real strength is identifying a wound and asking God to enter it.” (p35)
“God’s grace meets us where we are, not where we pretend to be.” (p39)
“It’s okay to not be okay. God will never ask you to suck it up.” (p41)
“Nothing can prevent our laments from reaching God’s ears. Even if everyone in the world ignores our cries and minimizes our pain, God hears us. Neither our offenders nor injustice, nor even death, can silence our lamenting cries to God.” (p71)
“Falsehood does not become truth just because we have believed it for a long time.” (p94)
“My relationship with God isn’t dependent on my performance.” (p101)
“trusting His presence will require faith even in those times when we feel His absence.” (p125)
“Even in the waiting, God is powerfully present, and that can be our source of deep, unshakable joy.” (p141)
“Some of us may be experiencing God’s favor in a palace, while others experience it in a prison. So let’s practice grace toward each other. We must be very careful to avoid wrongly attaching someone’s circumstances to the character of their heart or to God’s treatment of them.” (p150)
“When we minimize pain, we also minimize forgiveness. And when we minimize forgiveness, we minimize healing transformation.” (p165)
“When we fake fine, we run the risk of faking forgiveness – and in doing so, we cut ourselves off from real healing.” (p166)
“Time does not heal all wounds, but time is a gracious gift that allows for wrestling with the pain. And not one of us made int he image of God is meant to wrestle with our pain alone.” (p171)
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