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Even though the class was a disaster, I still regret quitting high school physics. I wish that I had hung in there with my little TI-30 calculator and all the boys who wore theirs in “denim-look” vinyl cases hanging off their belts or bulging from their shirt pockets — not because I suddenly care about the trajectory of a cannon ball fired at a forty-five degree angle. It’s because I believe that I would be a different person today if I had persevered in the hard discipline and allowed the dreaded “B” (or less!) to sully my G.P.A.
Annie Downs knows what it’s like to look in the mirror and see a quitter. By grace, she is also learning that to hang-in-there-in-hope is the path to joy. Looking for Lovely is the record of her journey in joy’s direction, in which she explores the connection between suffering and transformation and the truth that beauty lives in the spaces that may look like “rain, confusion, hurt, and ugly.”
Looking for life’s loveliness may involve suffering. Annie’s search felt, at times, like a training regimen in which she built strength and endurance, only to realize in the end that the muscle most in need of conditioning was “the one between her ears.”
Part of our search for hope is the process of learning to ask, and Annie reminds believers that the life of faith involves an awareness that God made us on purpose, and He has called us to a life of courage. Whatever rope He calls us to climb, beauty will be “the knots in the rope” that keep us holding on.
It’s clear that Annie has spent some time pondering the past and all the changes she intends for the future resulting in a Spirit-fed resolve to mine her pain for every nugget of Romans 8:28 beauty:
“My capacity to see beauty has increased in a much bigger measure than the pain I felt. My ability to feel the depths of something good was strengthened by my choice to feel the depths of pain.”
The Romans 5:5 hope that does not disappoint comes throughembracing (glorying in!) the tribulations that produce perseverance. Annie also reminds her readers that a pause is not the same as quitting. In fact, the pause “can actually be part of the victory.” She shares serial metaphors of her own paused-ponderings in which sushi rolls, nail polish, and Zumba classes all point believers toward healthy habits and grace-oriented priorities. When we pause to look for the lovely that lives all around us, there is strength to be found in the reality that it is God who is at work behind the scenes, orchestrating the search and strengthening our hearts and minds for the journey.
This book was provided by B&H Publishing Group in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”