For Lisa Velthouse’s whole life, Christianity had been about getting things right. Obeying her parents. Not drinking. Not cursing. Not having premarital sex…..But after two decades of trying to earn God’s favor, she found her faith was lonely, empty, and unsatisfying. So where does a “good Christian girl” turn when she needs answers? More discipline, of course: fasting! For months Lisa managed to fast, but the result seemed to be that suddenly she was falling short in everything else. Then, one night at a wedding, she denied herself the cake but broke an even bigger promise she’d made years before–falling in such an unexpected and world-rocking way that it challenged everything she thought she knew about God and herself.
Have you ever encountered a book that almost perfectly described your current situation and feeelings? Your awkward, humorously stupid, and at times, downright sinful moments and emotions? I have. And it’s called Craving Grace.
I first read a Lisa Velthouse creation seven years ago when my cousin lent me her copy of Saving My First Kiss. At that time I was a tween, awkward, innocent, and relatively simply in every way possible, and I honestly did not understand a big part of the book, except for the fact that the author (who was the same age as I am now) made a vow to God to safeguard her purity, especially that of her lips.
In this not-so-tell-all but completely honest memoir, Lisa Velthouse described her struggle with a seeming lack of romantic activity in her life, understanding God’s grace, keeping her hands off chocolate sundaes and brownies, and dealing with failure. A whole smack of heart-crushing failure, especially for a woman who seeks to have everything in place so that she would not make God sad. While reading this, I felt joy in knowing that someone else’s reality and struggles are similar to mine, and even more joy in confirming that everything I’m experiencing now is part of God’s great, big, and strange plan.
Objectively, I thought Craving Grace was mature, intelligent, funny, and heart-tugging. Although there was no particular or singular story that was supposed to be follow throughout the book, I always found myself wanting to turn over the next page and read on (and I read even if I had a thick-load of other school readings, which were mostly boring. HAHA) I also liked the fact that the arrangement of the stories and events was not chronological, but thematic, and the theme was, the ever-deepening understanding of a child of her Father’s amazing grace. I also appreciated Ms. Velthouse’s choice of words and use of language because it entailed going to the dictionary to search for literal meanings and looking into my heart and mind for deeper ones (which is why I thought it was intelligent). Lisa Velthouse didn’t just write her story for the sake of writing it (a mistake a lot of memoirs unfortunately commit); she wrote for the sake of change–for herself and her readers.
So why did I say I identify with this book so, so much? Because while I was reading it, I was at the point of my life where I struggled with God’s grace, love, Word, truth…and just God Himself. I also struggled with fasting (I am eating my 5th or 6th serving of peanuts for the day. :O) I couldn’t understand how I, the professing smart, intelligent, organized, and “I-have-it-all-together” girl, could eat too much food, watch too much TV, think vain thoughts, become so utterly selfish, fail academic requirements, and hurt the people I love the most (and who love me even more). In some parts of the book, Lisa Velthouse told stories about her experiences with sheep and how much she wished God didn’t compare her with sheep, which are downright stupid, helpless, and stubborn animals. She really got me when she wrote the following lines on page 145:
My preference–and my default mode–is to go on believing I am mostly good, just occasionally misguided. It is soothing to me, this illusion that I am not small and insignificant…that I am not undisciplined and unprincipled….that the core of my character is not at all ugly or awkward or unseemly….
She helped me accept the fact that I am an awkward, stubborn, and helpless sheep that is loved, cared for, and protected by a good and gracious Shepherd. She helped me understand even better that, while God hates sin to the core, He loves the sinner, and more importantly, to those He calls His children, He does not rest nor does He get fazed by failure and trials until His kids are perfectly aligned to His will for them. She made me crave grace and search for God’s sweetness without shoving it at my face. Grace, indeed, is beautiful. 🙂
Ms. Velthouse, thank you for sticking to God in spite of the struggle, and living on to write your story about His grace. 🙂
As for YOU reading this right now, go grab a copy of Craving Grace: the book every person who ever failed in life and searched for God and continues to seek revival and hope should read. 🙂
Special thanks to OMF Literature for publishing her book here in the Philippines! :) Our God is indeed Jehovah Jireh! :D