During my week recovering from surgery, my mother-in-law Sara was a godsend. She took care of Alice, cleaned my bathrooms, did my laundry. She also recommended a book called The Me I Want to Be by John Ortberg, which I picked up at the library and am now about halfway through.
I’m convinced I not only need to buy my own copy, but that I need to buy copies for everyone I know. And that I should re-read this book at least once a year in perpetuity. In fact, this book is already on the way to every member of my immediate family (and I already know my Dad is going to love this guy’s sense of humor, since it’s exactly like his).
In the very first chapter, Ortberg says that he used to evaluate his spiritual life by his faithfulness with devotionals–a daily set-aside time for Bible-reading and prayer. That’s my tendency; I’m disciplined, a lover of routine. I can read the Bible once a day (and enjoy it!)–that’s not a problem. But there is a problem with evaluating oneself that way: a Pharisee would get a high pass! Ortberg suggests that a better way to evaluate your spiritual life is by asking two questions: Have I been growing more easily discrouaged recently? Have I been more easily irritated recently?
If the answer to these questions is ‘Yes,’ then I’m struggling spiritually with peace and love, two of the pillars of a thriving spiritual life. And guess what I answered to those two questions?
A resounding ‘yes.’ Not just since my ectopic pregnancy and surgery, but starting this spring and until now, I’ve been struggling with happiness. I’ve been feeling angry, irritable and discouraged at my job, at home, with my circumstances. So what that I’m reading the Bible once a day? Something hasn’t been right in my spirit.
Every chapter of Ortberg’s book has been like that for me: eye-opening. Refreshing. Bringing self-examination, but with a message of hope (because the gospel is hope).
Based on the title, you might think this book leans in the self-help direction, or perhaps has a kind of narcissistic “find yourself” bent. Neither is the case. This book is solid. Ortberg, a pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, takes us to Scripture and reminds us of the wonderful truths in it. He’s not presenting anything new, but he writes about these truths in a fresh way that I am just loving.
I’m reading the chapter right now on anxiety, and how the Spirit is a non-anxious presence in our hearts. It’s wonderful, and it’s reminding me of the immense freedom I have in my relationship with God. Freedom to enjoy him, to grow in the Spirit, and to become more myself.
Pick up a copy–but not at the library. This book is worth owning!