Emma Scrivener is another person who more recently has come into the fore for making the world a gift of her weakness. She writes about her experience with anorexia and her on going struggles to keep going through this world. I love her writing because it’s infused with a very deep thread of the reality of God and yet is never glib, never gives easy answers, is always honest about the reality of living with ongoing brokenness without being self pitying. It’s an incredible path to walk and it’s one I want to continue to learn. It is a crazy feat to not give into the desire for easy answers and to be honest about the internal battles without ever attention seeking. I love that loads of Christians I know are finding her blog so helpful because it reminds me once more that we need people like this, we need to be honest and vulnerable, we ache to know we are not alone, we ache to know how to keep walking when the easy answers have failed us, we want to know real hope in the midst of our real messy everyday lives.
Over the weekend a copy of her recent book ‘A New Name’ landed on my doorstep, I’d been sent a copy to review for this fair blog and I couldn’t wait to sit down with a mug of tea and get into it. I’ve been finding it hard to write a review ever since, especially after I read the excellent review by Mark Meynell over on his blog, he says all I want to say in much more eloquent ways. So, rejecting the paragraph format and the need for linking sentences here are my top 7 reasons why you should stop what you are doing, do all you can to find a copy (here is a good start) and mark out an afternoon in your diary when it arrives on your doorstep, it won’t let you put it down.
- It’s a gift. (I don’t just mean my copy was a gift, although thank you Emma) Her story is a gift. It’s a story that makes you feel privileged to have read it, and deeply thankful for Emma’s vulnerability, admission of weakness, and willingness to share her weakness with the world.
- It is a big fat reminder that change and progress are long term, gutsy epic battles. There is no nice tidy ending. I’m always worried about testimonies that end with and Jesus sorted it all out and everything is great. Emma really met Jesus at the lowest point of her struggle when she found the courage to cry out for help and everything was different but not everything was great. It’s vital that we hold onto what the reality of change looks like. Long messy and not easy, but worth it. The last chapter is a wonderfully realistic picture of trying to believe the wonder of God’s love in the everyday, a path that is not straightforward.
- Emma manages to write about God in a way that makes me want to know him all over again. There wasn’t a jarring change of gear when she stopped talking about her story and then started talking about the reality of God. He didn’t feel like a sticking plaster answer over her issues. I believed that he is a reality as a result of reading this. None of the Godtalk felt like jargon or unreal.
- It made me cry. A lot. It reminded me of my own different story and how God is working in me and it gave me hope that the stops and starts, tumbles and turns of my life with God are normal. It reassured me that God was real and at work and worth crying out to.
- It felt like reading a breath of fresh air, like a cool drink on a hot day, like draughts of living water. It was deeply good for my soul.
- It’s incredibly well written. I thought I was going to be jealous of someone I have come to vaguely know, through our mutual love of each others blogs, writing an actual book. When it came to it the book is simply too well written to even bother being jealous about. How often do we really pick up books by Christians and delight in the wonder of the prose within them? Too little I fear. Here is writing that even made me forget the horrible font IVP insist on printing everything in at the moment. It is that good.
- It’s a brilliant reminder that the externals of our Christian lives are really not the things by which we should be measuring how we are doing. Emma looked the part of the great Christian in ministry for a long time but things hadn’t changed deep down inside. What’s going on in the battle of our hearts is the stuff that matters.
There is my less than comprehensive list of why you need to read this book.
If I have one issue with the book it’s that I was left at the end wanting more. I want to read Glen’s side of the story now, I want to know how he dealt with the issues of wanting to rescue Emma and the realisation of God as the true rescuer. But maybe I want too much. For now I’m content with a real story of the way God can work in the deepest mess of our lives and hearts. I’m grateful for the story of someone else on this road who knows the deep wonder of the love of that God and the daily struggle to believe and live in that love. Thank you Emma.
(disclaimer: no-one paid me to write this slightly effusive review, I got sent a copy and loved it)