Loveable: Embracing What Is Truest About You, So You Can Truly Embrace Your Life, by Kelly Flanagan
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Zondervan. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
I must admit, I thought much higher of this book than might be the case in less skillful hands. As I read this book, I pondered how the author’s perspective as a Christian therapist would make this end up, since it is fairly easy to imagine how a book could end up having the worst of psychobabble and the worst of preachiness, and the fact that the author praises Brennan Manning, author of the terrible Ragamuffin Gospel did not allay my concerns initially . The fact that the subject of the book is an area that hits close to home, as I have long struggled with not feeling particularly lovable, also did not bode well. Nevertheless, despite my considerable misgivings, the book ended up being one of the more thoughtful works I have read about embracing our identity as children of God and also being forthright about the messiness and brokenness of our lives . Against all odds, the book manages to be a persuasive and enjoyable read.
The contents of this book are rather intriguing, a threat-act drama of how we end up feeling more lovable despite our foibles and flaws. The opening of the book consists of four chapters that give the backstory of how people are wounded–some more than others–and how we search for healing unsuccessfully in our relationships with others. The first act looks at our worthiness even when, especially when, we do not feel worthy of the love that we long for so deeply. The second act looks at our need for belonging and the universality of our struggles to belong. The third act looks at our purpose and the fact that we matter in the eyes of God. Overall the book is under 250 pages and is filled with humorous and poignant references to the author’s own life as well as some chapters that are letters from the author to his  children. All in all, this book is a touching discussion of the child within all of us, and it definitely sounds reads like a book from a practicing therapist who has to deal with wounded inner children much of the time from clients.
Quite possibly the reason why this book works so well is because the author uses his insights about human nature not to look down from lofty heights at the struggles of humanity or to give a message of pessimism and despair, but rather to combine forthright and candid admissions of personal foibles and struggles with a message of hope and encouragement. The book hovers at that line between self-help and recognition that we are helpless without God, and the mix works better than anyone has a right to expect. This book is certainly good enough that I am curious about reading more that the author has to say in the future. Hopefully his children do not mind being so great an element of his writing, as he appears to be the sort of writer who discusses the people that are on his mind frequently and at length, a tendency that is not universally loved by those who are written about. Even so, this is a worthwhile book that deals with at least some of the most universal repercussions of human frailty and weakness and the corruption in this world as a result of sin on our own identities.
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 This is not a typo. Just like the similarly ambiguously named Evelyn Waugh, the author married a wife with the same name.