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Last month, I had the privilege of (in)courage using a piece I wrote about conflict. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed interacting with those who’ve responded to the piece. The ensuing conversations offered my first glimpse into what a blogging community is and how being part of one can inspire further writing.

One reader’s response prompted me to reflect anew on an experience I had several months ago related to a widely debated topic. Over the past four weeks, I disappeared from the blogosphere to sort through my thoughts in written form. Several drafts emerged, but none seem to sufficiently convey my struggle.

I hope the piece soon reaches a point where it’s ready to share. In the meantime, I’ve continued interacting with (in)courage by reviewing a book written by one of its cofounders.

The title of the book, You’re Already Amazing, deterred me at first, bringing to mind hokey clichés and images of prima donnas. Although the language is indeed at times a bit cheesy, the subtitle of the book encompasses its engaging nature far more accurately: Embracing Who You Are, Becoming All God Created You to Be.

Author Holley Gerth provides a refreshingly affirming perspective on God’s complete acceptance of every woman just as she is. Unlike so many Christian books that encourage women to foster certain predictable characteristics, You’re Already Amazing calls forth the natural, creative expression of each woman.

Practical tools throughout the book guide readers through an exploration of their strengths, skills, emotions, and relationships to better understand how God has created them in particular to express faith through love.

I found these exercises incredibly helpful as they brought divergent areas of life into focus for me. With Holley’s assistance, I was able to identify common threads and discern God hemming me in along a seemingly winding path.

Mapping out various parts of my life also enabled me to see that although God seems to have me waiting in some areas, He has brought me forward in others and given cause for celebration.

In addition to these interactive tools, I found the book’s call to abide in Christ invaluable. Without this essential truth, the guided self-exploration would easily lead readers into self-reliance, looking to who they are or what they do for purpose and meaning.

Even as the book currently stands, Holley may unintentionally lead readers astray from the truth that life simply is not about us. She clearly wants to counteract the lies fed to women by numerous sources – lies that lead them to believe they’re simultaneously too much and not enough. Yet, in advocating the opposite extreme, You’re Already Amazing sometimes loses sight of the reality that meaning comes only in obedience to God, when what one seeks is not purpose at all, but Christ.

In an effort to uphold the freedom to be oneself in a world that frequently separates identity from surrender, You’re Already Amazing at times errs on the side of popular, self-help theology.

Overall, however, the book provides rich insight and incredibly helpful tools for understanding how God created each of us to uniquely express faith in love. My hope is that the truth offered in this book will outweigh any potentially misleading theology and help readers lean into the love and freedom of Christ.

You can interact with author Holley Gerth and others reading the book at http://www.incourage.me/2012/03/youre-already-amazing-details.html.