Book Review: Standing Strong

Book Review: Standing Strong

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Can I tell you about another wonderful book for which I’ve gotten to be on the launch team?

God works in mysterious ways, and I wholeheartedly believe he planned for me to get to read this book before I even decided I was going to. This is my first non-hope*writer member book launch, but I found it because of the author of the first book launch team I was ever a part of. Meredith McDaniel posted on Instagram about joining in with Indelible Ink Writers for daily emails and writing prompts during Lent. I thought, “Well, this seems interesting.” So I signed up for the emails. Since then, my writing life has changed for the better. I enjoyed writing sort-of poetry/lyrics when I was younger, and the writing prompts reawakened that creative kind of writing in me. It’s been such a blessing, especially these days, where life can be too heavy to express explicitly in words, yet poetry somehow carries the weight while being light, too… but that story is not what you’re here. I was explaining how I came across this book launch team.

Rachel Kang is the creative soul behind Indelible Ink Writers, and she’s one of the beautiful models on the front of this book! She shared about Standing Strong long before the launch team even opened and then shared about it with the Indelible Ink group when it was time to sign up.
I signed up, got a confirmation email, and then weeks passed without another word about it. I wondered if I fell through the cracks somehow, so I also joined the book launch team for the Enneagram Devotionals, which came out on September 15. Then I joined one for a book that launches in November called Talking Back to Purity Culture by Rachel Joy Welcher.

Suddenly, I found myself swimming in more fantastic non-fiction than my migraine inundated brain could even start to process. I got behind on all the reading, but I am catching back up (and I totally wrote most of this review a month ago…and then got very distracted)!

I think one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to non-fiction books are the ones that tell you that you can do this, you are enough; all you have to do is work harder.

Standing Strong isn’t a “You can do this!” kind of book. It’s a “You can’t do this alone and thank God, you’re not alone.” kind of book.

Filled with words worthy of underlining, Alli doesn’t mince words when it comes to all the ways we undermine our calling, worth, work, and even our God. Especially as women, who are told to “go home” or are encouraged to defer to men as the ones in charge. Never before have I read a book that encouraged women to lean into what they feel God is calling them to do without sounding like an overly feminist “You can do this, girl!” kind of book.

Alli doesn’t start her book quietly and meekly; she starts it with some gut punches that are backed up by God’s word, saying, “God is calling his daughters to more. He does not call us to be the heroes of our own stories. He is the hero of our story. God is calling women to partner with him, to be a force in a barren, broken world, woven with weariness.”

She calls out our tendencies to “play small” and try to be invisible so we won’t be called out or noticed. It is a defense mechanism we use so no one can confirm our worst fears about ourselves and our self-doubt. But we aren’t called to be quiet and let life pass by us.

Never in God’s word are women told they aren’t called the way men are or equal to them because they are less-than. Yet, too often, we allow this to be preached in our churches or our own hearts so we feel less validated when we feel called to do something. “Oh, surely, God isn’t calling me to that because I’m a woman, and I’m not allowed to lead.” If we believe those lies, how can we believe the rest of the Bible is true?

We must decide to live like we believe that what God says is true.

The truth is, by limiting what women are “allowed” to do, we are limiting God. If a woman is called to lead, write a book, start a business, or do anything else God asks her to do, who can tell her she can’t? The truth is, we are the only thing truly standing in our way. If you’re like me, maybe it’s time to “get out of your own way and let God work in and through you.”

And y’all, everything I’ve written so far is just out of the first chapter of the book. I’m not joking when I say it is full of gold, but that gold is on fire and hurts to touch sometimes because they’re words we don’t really want to hear (well, if you’re like me. I don’t like being called out, I hide from confrontation. This book did a lot of calling out) but words we need to hear. At the same time, it permits us to do things I didn’t necessarily realize I wanted permission to do. Sometimes I feel I need permission to simply take up space in a room; reading this book reminded me I don’t need anyone else’s permission as long as God called me to that room.

While reading this book, I also realized that when I feel called to do something but I don’t because I am afraid to disappoint others (or care about what others think in general), I’m actually listening to fear and disobeying God. If we believe we aren’t good enough to do something God calls us to do, we are disobeying him. That was something that stuck out to me that I had never truly realized before: Jesus disappointed others, and it was not only okay, it was right. He did what his father called him to do, and we are called to do the same. How freeing it is to be reminded that it’s God, not humans, that validates us!

Reading that reminded me of the verse in Galatians that says, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10 NIV) How often do we feel like we can’t do something we feel called to do because of what others think? Or, how long do we continue to do something that is soul-draining to us when we no longer feel called to it because we worry what will happen if we stop? Will everything fall apart? Or, possibly worse is the blow to our egos if it flourishes without us.

When we take ourselves out of the equation and see it as God instead, we can more easily give up what we hold on to so dearly, and we may find there’s something life-giving in letting go.

I could probably write a whole book about my thoughts on this book, but she’s already written this book, and I have my own words to write. So, this is me saying I hope you check out this book that’s a loving kick in the pants but a fantastic reminder that we’re not the only ones feeling this way.

I’m honored to hold a spot on my bookshelf for Standing Strong. I recommend it for every Christian woman, especially those who feel like there is more to their life than sitting quietly on the sidelines.

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