Thursday, February 13, 2020

19. Enough About Me

Enough About Me: Finding Lasting Joy in the Age of Self. Jen Oshman. 2020. Crossway. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy] [Christian nonfiction; theology; Christian living]

First sentence: I am nearing my fortieth birthday. In just a couple weeks my friends and family will gather to celebrate, and I’m looking forward to it. Forty. It’s a much-anticipated age.

Sadly, this is a MUCH NEEDED book. If I could, if I had the power, I would make EVERY ABOUT-TO-BE-PUBLISHED author read this book before his/her book is actually published. Perhaps the line has always been a blur between Christian living and self-help books. Perhaps looking at the publisher of a book used to give readers more of a clue as to if it was "self-help" or "Christian living." Perhaps in days gone by Christian living used to be less me-me, me. Or maybe not. That's not an experiment I want to commit to making--to read all the Christian living books that have been published over the last hundred years.

So what is this one about? It's about GOD, GOD, GOD, GOD, GOD, yes, and did I mention it was about God?!?! The title essentially says it all, this is not a book telling YOU that YOU have all the answers, and that YOU are enough, and that everything you need is right there inside of YOU just waiting for you to tap into YOUR own strength, own destiny, own gibber-gabber. The book covers how to do life--as a godly, God-fearing, God-believing, God-worshipping woman.

I loved, loved, loved it. It truly counters essentially everything you're taught by the world, by society, by culture, by the books you read, by the music you listen to, by the shows you watch. Stop lying to yourself--it urges. Wake up! Take note!
"When we deify ourselves, we require reality to conform to our own desires, rather than the other way around (conforming ourselves to reality). And whether we know it or not, this self-deification requires us to worship ourselves, to uphold ourselves, to convince ourselves that we are enough and worthy of following. When we become our own source of meaning, we also become our only source of satisfaction and fulfillment. We set ourselves in a cycle of defining ourselves and worshiping ourselves. To uphold this worldview, we must become our own masters. Ironically, we don’t actually become free. We must not only muster our own meaning and goals and dreams, but we must supply our own energy and ability to accomplish them. With ourselves on the throne we must truly be self-made women: we must conjure up everything from the meaning of life to the energy and ability to live it out. This makes us fragile. It’s all on us. Today we have to create our worlds and make them go round too. The problem with self-deification is that it limits oneself to oneself. We disable ourselves by not permitting ourselves to look to something bigger—something outside (or someone outside, as we’ll investigate in the next chapter)—for our meaning and purpose. Our only hope is to believe ourselves when we say we are enough."
"We twenty-first-century women have been running on ourselves, rather than our God. We’ve been running on self-help, self-empowerment, and self-actualization. The fuel of self has run out, and that’s why we’re tired and discouraged and even in crisis. Enough about me. And enough about you. If we want to keep running, we need to run on the fuel we’re made for—God himself."
What we think of as empowering ourselves is really crippling ourselves.

Oshman invites readers to ask different questions, and seek answers in God's Word. She shares with her readers the BIG PICTURE story of the Bible; how all 66 books of the Bible work to tell one story. It's a grand, action-packed story in four parts: creation, fall, redemption, and restoration.
"These four movements make up the big story of the Bible. God created us, we rebelled against him, he redeemed us, and one day all will be restored. That big story about God is also our story because we were made in his image. We must know that we’re a part of that story before we can know what we must do. It’s in tethering ourselves to that story—in recognizing that we were created on purpose for a purpose—that we will thrive. God says, I made you in my image to live for my glory. Culture says, Be self-made in whatever image you like and live for your own glory. This is a counterfeit calling, and it’s killing us."
I definitely get the impression that Oshman believes wholeheartedly that man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. (Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q/A 1)

The whole book cover to cover is a solid, compelling, truth-packed, gospel-saturated read that though marketed to women is relevant to everyone. Men and women could benefit by reading this one and doing a little self-reflection. It has depth and substance. It isn't fluff--the opposite of it, in fact. It offers much food for thought, and asks readers to challenge themselves.

"Our intuition says the more we prioritize ourselves, the better we will feel about ourselves. But in reality, the more you and I look at ourselves, the more we loath ourselves because we fall short. When we fix our eyes on Jesus, when we behold our good God and ponder what he has done, your self worth and mine is elevated. We remember that we have inherent value as dearly created children. We remember that we are chosen, adopted, and loved (see Gal. 3:26–27). In other words, when we transition from self-focus to Jesus-focus, we actually end up with a better self-image—because it’s dependent on him who made us, not on ourselves. Because God is the author of our lives and the Redeemer of our souls, we will thrive when we study him, know him, love him, root ourselves in him, and renew our minds in him. Feasting on him, beholding him, and making the change from me-ology to theology is the key to your wellbeing and mine."

"Life is lived in minutes, which add up to hours and days and years. Whatever we love most each minute is what drives our action in the present. Those minutes build, one on top of the other. Life is a culmination of our momentary desires. Whatever our hearts love each minute will lead us for a lifetime. We are what we love. Each of us must therefore ask, What do I love? What am I loving the most right now?"

"Here’s the telltale sign that our god, our faith, and our calling are small and self-created: we find ourselves at the center of them all. You and I must ask ourselves if the values of our god are identical to our own. Have we reworded the Bible so that it matches our preferences, rather than us being changed by it? Are we living exactly like our non-Christian friends and family and simply slapping a #blessed on all we do? Are we being stretched beyond ourselves? In our quest for joy, are we living for our own glory, our own name, our own success? Can we honestly say that our Christianity requires faith? Because what Jesus asks of us requires great faith. He asks you and me to die. And in that death, he promises joy."

"If your devotional book, your women’s Bible study, your pastor, your favorite Christian author, or your Christian best friend don’t encourage you to come and die, an alarm should go off in your head. If their messages are for self-preservation and self-promotion, you know they don’t match God’s word. If they want to bless you on the small cycle, you know it’s not the life Jesus has for you."

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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