Friday, July 21, 2017

Book Review: You can do This

 You can do This
ISBN: 1631467468
Author: Tricia Lott Williford [website]
Published by: Navpress

DISCLAIMER: This book was received from the publisher in exchange for a free, unbiased review.

Cover Description:

YOU ARE SMART.  You are kind.  You are beautiful.  And even if you've never thought so, you are confident.  You have everything you need to begin.  This is your story, your life, your moment.

I'm inviting you into the confidence conversation.

It's time to stop being unhappy with yourself.  You can choose to stop second-guessing all of your decisions and commitments and wondering whether your life would be better if only you'd chosen differently.  I invite you to be present where you are -- where God is! -- and to embrace your life and live out your God-given gift of confidence.

Come join me in the pages, my friend.  Let's talk about who you are.  Let's hold hands and run hard into the glorious mess of it all. I don't know what challenges wait for you, but this I know for sure:
You can do This!


When I first ordered this book, the title and summary both promised "seizing the confidence God offers", in general terms, but when I started into it I quickly realized that this is a book for women.  In fact, I didn't even get past the table of contents, in which each chapter description is, "The confident girl.... [does whatever]".  This could have been made clearer, but I really don't hold it against the book.  Although I will say that the material could have been handled in such a way to appeal to men as well, broadening the author's audience.

Incidentally, my wife took one look at the cover and immediately said, "It's a girl book."  I was taken aback and asked how she knew that.  "There's a pair of shoes on it."  I'd have gotten killed for saying that! :)

Even so, I really began to resonate with this book right away, especially in the introduction where she stated, "The only difference between you and the confident person is one thing:  Confidence."  At this point I started thinking I could get some great things out of this book, but little did I realize that there was a shadow lurking, even within this clever turn of a phrase.

Wilford is very a good author, and does a great job of being vulnerable with her own struggles with feelings of inadequacy. 

"I don't make mistakes, I have failures." she says.  That is, when something goes wrong, she (and I, both) struggle with the lie that we didn't just make a mistake because we're human, but we failed because we're failures. This was a real shot-to-the-heart moment!

Not only that, but the opposite is true as well, namely, not only does losing prove I'm worthless, but also, since I'm worthless I don't even deserve the victories.  

(I'd add that this self-destructive thinking is only re-enforced through peer-pressure and socialist education which punishes exceptionalism as "weird" and wrong, and marginalizes the exceptionally smart as, "nerds", but that's a can of worms for another fishing trip.)

"If I'm honest," Williford says, "there's a part of me that will always be a middle schooler navigating the cafeteria of life, hoping to quickly find my place; dodge the microscope of critics; and feel known, seen, and safe."

<raises hand>  Yep.  Totally with you.

In many ways I identified with the author, and enjoyed her godly advice.  Yet the ideas presented in this book have a strange duality that makes it difficult for me to endorse.  While the author is clearly confident with scripture and handles it well, she also has synchrotized that with the advice of ungodly purveyors of wisdom of our age.

Now, on some level I don't mind this.  After all, it is a fundamental concept of logic to take a given statement and evaluate it soley on its own merit rather than the character of the one giving it.

That being said, there is a vast difference between that and becoming a doting disciple of the ungodly.

Williford relies far too heavily on the advice of "new spirituality" purveyors such as Oprah Winfrey and Brené Brown as well as her psychotherapist Jana, devoting the entire middle third of her book to their advice alone, no scripture needed!

[It may be off topic here, but briefly, "new spirituality" is the same as old idolatry.  The only difference between an idol carved from stone and one made of ideas is that the former can at least keep papers from blowing off your desk.]

As a result, what started out as an authentic and genuine problem and Biblical advice, the book degenerates quickly into wonderful ideas like visualizing a box in your mind to hide all of your emotional "stuff" in.  That is, my friends, is what we call A HORRIBLE IDEA!  When my kids hide stuff they don't want to deal with in a box, around our house we call that "stashing", and as I point out a minimum of 300 times a day, "That doesn't fix the mess.  That only moves the mess."  Emotionally, it's even worse, because you don't know when they're going to pop out at you like funhouse monsters.

Dear, sweet Jana sure isn't doing Williford any favors!

I think the lowest point for me though (and I think this is a great example of the conflicted advice), was when she said, "Hold on... to what?  You hold on to whatever is keeping you from floating away.  You find the one thing that is solid, safe, and secure, and you don't let it out of your sight.  Don't let it out of your grip.  Hold on to the one thing you can find that is real and true."

Freeze frame there.  So far, sounds right, doesn't it?  We know exactly what that "one thing" is!  ...right?  ...right?

Nope.  "Hold on to the one thing you can find that is real and true.  Your child.  Your art.  Your family.  A playlist.  A song.  A phrase.  A word.  Hold on to that with both hands."

Oh!  Good thing you said something!  I was going to go for the firm foundation of the Word of God [Luke 6:46-49], but my mistake.  Just need to update the old iTunes. 

Okay, I apologize for my over-the-top snarkiness, but this completely reeks of new spirituality.  That is, " 'whatever' [direct quote from above] gives you a spiritual buzz is just as good as anything else, just cling to that and you'll be fine."  Not cool.  Very not cool.

I mean, upbeat music and those other things are great, but PLEASE don't run to your playlist in times of trouble!  That's just idolatry all over again!!!


In conclusion, would I recommend this book?  Sadly, no.  And if you choose to read it anyway, I recommend doing so with the utmost discernment, testing everything against the Word.

Furthermore, my heart breaks for the author who has undergone so much.  Please join me in praying for this woman personally, that the Spirit should bring discernment of the many voices competing for her attention.  That she could turn away from those who are wise in the world's eyes, and rather find comfort and healing in the arms of Jesus.   Amen.