Lost & Found: Finding Hope in the Detours of Life
Ã¢ÂÂLost and FoundÃ¢ÂÂ is a story of grace meant to reach those who believe theyÃ¢ÂÂre so broken, so ashamed, or so lost that there is no hope. Author Sarah Jakes shares openly about the choices she made throughout her teens in the hope that her readers will learn from her experiences and find hope and restoration in their own circumstances. While her intent is clear, and her desire to share her story for the sake of others is admirable, I felt her message was mixed. But more on that later; hereÃ¢ÂÂs what I did like:
Ms. Jakes conveys a number of great insights throughout this book, such as the lie that a faÃÂ§ade is easier to live with than the truth and that youÃ¢ÂÂre Ã¢ÂÂin troubleÃ¢ÂÂ if you are not free to think, feel, or communicate in a relationship. She sheds light on the vicious cycle of eroding self-value and destructive relationships, and most importantly, she communicates that GodÃ¢ÂÂs grace is always available to us- no matter what.
I admire Ms. Jakes for sharing her story and I think she has great wisdom to impart to others who struggle with the belief that they are unworthy of love, or that somehow theyÃ¢ÂÂve made such a mess of life that they can never find freedom. I also think her story will resonate with those who have given up on Christianity either because of the mistaken belief that they just canÃ¢ÂÂt measure up to everyoneÃ¢ÂÂs (perceived) expectations or because they grew up Ã¢ÂÂin the churchÃ¢ÂÂ and learned to resent it for various reasons.
But hereÃ¢ÂÂs what I struggled with:
Ms. Jakes is very brief when it comes to sharing the details of her experiences, but sheÃ¢ÂÂs quite verbose when it comes to analyzing them. For every paragraph of narration there are probably five paragraphs of rambling, metaphoric introspection that goes back and forth between Ms. Jakes either rationalizing her choices or imparting the wisdom of hindsight to her readers. These are two distinct voices- one exploring her self-identity and the other dispensing self-help concepts- but theyÃ¢ÂÂre used interchangeably, and this leads to textual incoherency because at times you canÃ¢ÂÂt tell when exactly she switches from rationalizing to advising.
The author also frequently uses confusing terminology that caused me to reread passages several times in an attempt to decode her meaning. HereÃ¢ÂÂs an example:
Ã¢ÂÂIÃ¢ÂÂve seen so many people lose their way in ministry because they were unwilling to pretend to have it all together.Ã¢ÂÂ What does this mean? Is she saying we should pretend to have it all together so we donÃ¢ÂÂt lose our way? I truly donÃ¢ÂÂt think that is her intention, but I didnÃ¢ÂÂt get it (I strongly suspect my understanding of Ã¢ÂÂministryÃ¢ÂÂ [service] differs from hers). HereÃ¢ÂÂs another example that had me scratching my head, Ã¢ÂÂUltimately, in most relationships I think we confuse love and respect. The two are not mutually exclusive, but I had no way of knowing that because I had never known love that didnÃ¢ÂÂt come with respect.Ã¢ÂÂ Again, IÃ¢ÂÂm not quite sure what this means, or how it is that we confuse love and respect in most relationships, or how this distinction applied to her circumstances. But I can say that the frequency of rambling, ambiguous, and awkward sentences such as these made for difficult reading. There were also numerous examples of pronoun reference errors throughout the book. Of course, this is as much a reflection on the editing as it is on the author, but I mention it because it did detract from the book overall.
The bottom line for my rating this book less than favorably, however, is that I wasnÃ¢ÂÂt convinced a reader would come away grasping that the love of God is completely and fully life-changing; nor would a reader learn how to bring God her brokenness and pain. I tried to imagine how a young woman caught in a web of her own poor choices and a tragic search for love would truly find hope- let alone redemption- when she reads Sarah JakesÃ¢ÂÂ conclusion that, Ã¢ÂÂIn the end the ministry I tried to outrun most of my life is what saved me.Ã¢ÂÂ (ThereÃ¢ÂÂs that word again!) Ultimately, Ms. Jakes found a sense of purpose and wholeness when she began working for her (famous and very wealthy) parents in their various church-backed enterprises. The redemption is her own achievement; she redeemed her past when she discovered she was able to offer something to others. I donÃ¢ÂÂt think she intended this conclusion at all, but its there, and it blurs the true meaning of redemption, making her story sound like a journey of self-actualization rather than a journey of deliverance. To be fair, Ms. Jakes does acknowledge that GodÃ¢ÂÂs grace was always available to her, and that accepting her imperfections and GodÃ¢ÂÂs love was life-changing- but the message is mixed. What really comes through most powerfully is that she was saved from a painful life by her parentsÃ¢ÂÂ unconditional love, the opportunities they offered her, and her discovery of purpose, rather than a revelation of GodÃ¢ÂÂs love, his mercy, and His transforming power.
I absolutely hate to be critical of what is clearly a courageous and genuine desire to help others by being transparent and honest- but when I think of young women I know who are in destructive relationships or a pit of bad choices they canÃ¢ÂÂt seem to pull out of, I canÃ¢ÂÂt help but think that they would say upon reading this book, Ã¢ÂÂI can really relate to what Sarah went through, how she felt, and why she did what she did. ItÃ¢ÂÂs nice for Sarah Jakes that she has a loving, strong and wealthy family to rescue herÃ¢ÂÂ¦but I donÃ¢ÂÂt.Ã¢ÂÂ
I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade CommissionÃ¢ÂÂs 16 CFR, Part 255.
March 19, 2014
Lost and Found by Sarah Jakes
Lost and Found: Finding HOPE in the Detours of Life by Sarah Jakes is a book about turning your life around after making bad decisions seemingly when all hope is gone. More simply, as the title states, finding hope in the detours of life. The author's life was warped with bad decisions and bad relationships. She couldn't see that the people who were in her corner were the people who loved her and rooted for her the most. I suspect growing up as a P.K. (preacherÃ¢ÂÂs kid) couldÃ¢ÂÂve been why she felt that way. The pressure in the church to be perfect and appear to have it all together can be overwhelming. So instead of trying to conform to what the Ã¢ÂÂchurchÃ¢ÂÂ thought she should look like, she fell in love with someone who she thought understood and accepted her flaws as they came. The book ended with her realizing that redemption and grace can only come from one source.
With that being said, I wanted to love this book. I really did. However, the author's writing was surprisingly rudimentary. I felt the author left a lot out of the story that could've shed more light into why she kept making the decisions that she made. The book seemed to jump around a bit. One minute she is talking about child-birth and in the next sentence she is talking about another new woman in her husband's life. One minute she is talking about how lost her husband is. Then in the next sentence, she mentions how he buys her everything and is giving and caring. Although she elaborated on her marriage and what contributed to the cessation of it, I would've love for her to give the reader more on what process she took to go from a cheating husband, to divorce, to redemption. Did you keep a journal, talk to a friend/family, the counseling sessions? What was it? Those steps and advice on the topic couldÃ¢ÂÂve been vital to a young reader going through the same thing. I'm sure her story will touch many and I hope it does. However, there were no real ah-ha moments.
The couple of things that I did get from the book were:
1. We don't have to look perfect while GROWING through our testimony. As the author wrote, "How do we embrace the process of not having it all together?"
2."...if the sun rises tomorrow, you have a chance to test the limits of God's grace." Someone, somewhere will always need to hear that!
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
March 27, 2014