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Looking for Lovely: Collecting the Moments that Matter Paperback – April 5, 2016
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In the book, Annie journies through some of her own very deep struggles, and reveals glimpses of lovely in the simplest of things: sushi, Zumba, the farmers market. Each of these small lovelies helps her recognize God’s presence and remember His promises. While Annie and I live very different lives, her search for lovely connected me to a truth I missed in my drive to do more and be more. Internal drive will take you far. Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps will get it done. But without lovely, the destination is not worth the journey.
Through a collection of essay-type chapters, Annie F. Downs shows us how to look for lovely in our ordinary days. She demonstrates how these lovely moments help heal brokenness, restore faith, and fuel a hope for the future. I am hooked on looking for lovely. I am now a collector of the moments that matter.
One comment: At one point, Downs mentions eating disorders as if an eating disorder is a chosen path. As someone who has suffered with disordered eating, I found this comment misinformed. A true eating disorder is not a commitment to lose weight, but a deeply emotional/physical/mental challenge.
Looking for Lovely kind of kicked me in the gut in ways that I needed it over and over again. Annie shared about walking into the brokenness in her own life and oh how I desperately needed someone to stop saying life was beautiful and truly talk about the hard parts.
“If you want to be full of hope, you have to suffer a bit.”
She shared about overcoming the lies and broken pieces of her life and how the Lord so intimately met her there. This journey is hard and heartbreaking. Both from experience and from walking girls through it, I know that you feel alone, broken, and like giving up, and I love that Annie illuminated both how real and how trying of a journey this is but most importantly how fruitful and life giving it is. (Also, I love how she addressed just how helpful going to counseling can be, as it can be a scary and stigmatized step for many.)
“I started to turn toward the whispered lies and look them in the face, giving my soul a voice to stand up for the truth.”
But amidst this hard and trying journey of a broken world full of pain and heartache, Annie emphasizes that there are beautiful little reminders of hope. She speaks about the small things that remind her life is good like sushi and friends, and I can attest to these little sprinkles of grace in dark times, like a friend who brings Starbucks to the hospital and just massages your back and doesn’t say a word, a best friend that brings you a birthday present the day your Dad dies in the hospital, or coworkers that throw you a birthday party a week late so you could still be celebrated. (Can I get on my soap box here for just a second and scream to you to never separate yourself from the body of Christ. Can I just tell you from the depths of my soul how desperately you need them when you are in these dark places?)
I was listening to a sermon last night as a I was driving into Atlanta, because sometimes I need room to be myself and cry in response to sermons. John Piper talked about how Jesus taught us to rejoice. This wasn’t a rejoicing that was naïve or oblivious to pain and hurt, but this was a rejoicing with tears streaming down his face in pain and fear to the point of death, but He “rejoiced in the hope of the glory of God”. Similarly, Paul is in chains, in prison in a deep hole, truly suffering and writes to the Church how he rejoices for them.
And as I have been so thankful and so blessed amidst feeling so much pain I actually feel it in my chest, God has taught me so much about this. We rejoice that somehow, someday this will all make sense, but right now it doesn’t and it hurts and God invites us to feel that and invite Him into it.
And I think Annie emphasizes this so well that when we walk into our rainy days and lonely nights and painful thoughts, we somehow walk into allowing hope and love to abound in us in deeper ways that we ever thought possible.
“If you aren’t experiencing pain, you aren’t experiencing beauty. Darkness makes us appreciate the beauty of light. If you aren’t allowing yourself to feel the hurt, sadness, loneliness, and disappointment this fallen world has to offer, you probably aren’t feeling the fullness of the joy and beauty the redeemed moments have to offer.”
To sum all of this up, I loved this book and amidst reading it bought 3 copies for other people.