Once in a very great while I will read a book and think, “If I was more eloquent and disciplined, this is the book I would’ve liked to write.”
Fortunately, probably more successfully, Wendy Ulrich beat me to it.
For many, just believing that God exists is a challenge. That’s a subject for another book. (One I have no plans to write.) But for the rest of us, the biggest challenges can be keeping Him close, feeling worthy of His love, and being assured that He is listening when we pray. Admitting these challenges, even to like-minded friends and family, is equally difficult. It feels like a massive character flaw.
Wendy Ulrich, who spoke at an event I attended in 2012, addresses these challenges and more in her book Let God Love You: Why We Don’t, How We Can. Although Ulrich is a psychologist–which would normally have me running in the opposite direction–she doesn’t use professional terms to make her point. Instead, she takes a very courageous route, an incredibly vulnerable route, tapping into all of her own insecurities with her personal relationship with God over the years and sharing them with us.
At times I felt almost numb. Her sentiments echoed mine in a way that was so accurate, it was almost scary. Her concerns, her fears, her highs and lows felt so relatable. I could feel myself nodding along and thinking, “yes, Yes, YES…These are all things I’ve felt too.” After a while I thought, “I should just stop highlighting, because I’m highlighting everything.” Other reviewers have said the exact same thing.
Not only was it extremely satisfying to know that someone else has gone through the same struggles I have while trying to feel God’s closeness, but it was a relief to know the root of those struggles (she shares many possibilities) and to know that there is hope. Hope, being a core element of faith. Faith being the “assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Some may ask, “If being close to God is so hard, why try at all?” Good question.
Obviously, the desire to believe in God (or not) is a choice we all make. But, like anything else worthwhile, it takes practice. Knowing there is hope of getting closer to Him by understanding what we might be doing to keep Him at a distance is a major step. The most important lesson I learned is that we often project human flaws on God because being flawed humans–who often hurt and disappoint each other– is all we know.
It’s been a long time since I could honestly say I was “blown away” by a book, but I was with this one. Yes, it forces introspection and self-examination, sometimes admitting things we are secretly ashamed of and have tucked away, possibly for years. But for those of us who think having a better relationship with God is worth it, which I most certainly do, this book is a wondrous read that far surpassed my expectations. And, while Ulrich is an LDS author, the principles of the book are for anyone and everyone.